Kick starting your programming with JavaScript – How and Why?

Learning programming is never an easy task and getting hands on a good language can be a good place to get started. JavaScript is one of those languages that do not just offer you a good basis into programming but also has a wide range of applications which can make you an outstanding developer.

Most of the people trying to learn programming on their own always come into the field with many questions. The most nagging question among most beginning self-taught programmers is always “what is the right programming language to choose”. As said earlier, JavaScript is definitely one of the languages to start you off and this article aims to give you a good guide into getting your hands onto JavaScript and tips on the best way of staying focused and committed to your study of JavaScript.

Starting simple and building on this foundation is always the best way of achieving the ultimate goal but there is a long way to go if you want to reach the professional level. For web professionals, JavaScript is the language to get you selling considering the fact that it is the Standard language of the web.  However, it is not only limited to the web and if you may think of pursuing a path out of the web, especially computer application development, JavaScript will still can get the job done.

Most JavaScript professionals do not go to the full extent of breaking down the whole language but instead prefer picking one side of JavaScript and being good at it. This always results into two types of developers mainly front-end and back-end developers. However, getting a full grasp of language makes you a powerful developer combining both back-end and front-end to make a full-stack developer.

Without further ado, let’s start on breaking down JavaScript piece by piece and give you reasons why you should learn JavaScript as your first language in programming.

Brief History of JavaScript

JS is a high-level, interpreted programming language developed by Netscape communications initially as LiveScript. Its renaming to JavaScript came as a marketing strategy due to the popularity of the Java programming language then. This, however, led to a misconception that JavaScript is related to Java which is not the case.

In December 1995, soon after releasing JavaScript for browsers, Netscape introduced an implementation of the language for server-side scripting with Netscape Enterprise Server. Since the mid-2000s, additional server-side JavaScript implementations have been introduced, such as Node.js in 2009.

JavaScript on the web

JavaScript was first experienced on the web and this has been its main area of deployment ever since. JavaScript introduces interactive sessions to static webpages developed in Markup languages such as HTML. Through JavaScript, developers can automate calculations, add interactivity such as performing a given action when the cursor hovers over a component and many more. The use of JS on the browser (client-side scripting) is still the most common use of JavaScript but today, the language has found applications way beyond the scope of the web.

JavaScript is all over

JavaScript is a complete programming language and learning it is much worthwhile. Getting to understand the basic concepts of JavaScript also makes it easier for you as a developer to grasp any other language. To run JavaScript code, all that is required is a web browser. All the common browsers today are capable of executing JavaScript code and as long as you have a web browser on your computer then JavaScript can work.

However, this does not mean it is only limited to the client-side programming. JavaScript can also be used in the back-end for Server-side scripting and also to build applications that run on computers. This has been made possible by JavaScript frameworks such as Node.js which makes it possible to run JavaScript code on your local machine.

Back-end programming with JavaScript

As JavaScript grew in popularity, some developers came up with the idea of extracting the JavaScript execution engine, which was only available for the browser by then, and use it for other development purposes outside the web browser. With this, Node.js came to life and it made JavaScript a general-purpose programming language.

Today, NodeJS is one of the popular back-end programming languages which basically allows back-end programmers to create server-side applications using JavaScript. Thanks to NodeJS, applications written in the JavaScript language can now access databases, the file system and any other server-side resources. However, Node.js is not only limited to server-side scripting but also can be installed on computers to run JavaScript code on the operating system. It can also be used for tasks such as automation, optimisation or application deployment.

Development of device apps using JavaScript

For several years now, JavaScript has become a language of choice when it comes to creations of applications for IoT devices. Node.js is one of the JavaScript frameworks that have been used in this technology. For mobile devices, the mobile application installed would simply be the user interface, written in the native language or using a hybrid solution like Cordova while keeping all of the application’s business logic on the server. This user interface would get data and perform business logic via calls to a server side API.

Use of JavaScript for IoT devices is not only limited to Node.js. Other JavaScript-based frameworks used for development of native apps include Native Script and React Native.

Development of Desktop applications using JavaScript

In as much as JavaScript’s playground has always been the web, the recent development the language has undergone has made it clear that the web is no longer big enough to accommodate this dynamic language. JavaScript is now conquering Desktop-application development as well and this is making it even much easier for web developers who have no expertise in native operating system languages such as C++.

All this has been made easy thanks to project Electron and many others that are deriving from it. Electron is a software development platform created by Github which enables web developers to create Desktop applications using JavaScript mainly, in conjunction with other web technologies such as HTML and CSS.

It allows developers to create cross-platform applications which can be installed and used in all the major computer operating systems, that is, Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Some of the applications developed using Electron include Atom, Visual Studio Code, Slack, Hyper, etc.

JavaScript on the web platform

Even though JavaScript has applications across many execution platforms, the best and most appropriate place to start off your JavaScript programming is the web. The advantages of web programming are endless and with the power of JavaScript, there always will be opportunities and projects to pursue. Here are some common areas on the web where JavaScript is applied

Websites

Websites are mainly web pages whose main aim is to pass information and the most important part of the website is always the content.

JavaScript in websites cases is dedicated to give the user a friendly experience by introducing interactivity of the website with the user. This is achieved in form of dynamic user interfaces, response to user action and form validation among others.

Web Applications

A web application is a client–server computer program which the client (including the user interface and client-side logic) runs in a web browser. Web applications in most cases have similar functionality to a desktop software application or to a mobile app just that the app data is always stored on the server and the browser is used as an interface of accessing it.

Common web applications include webmail, online retail sales, and online auction.

Libraries, frameworks and Pure JavaScript for web development

Libraries in programming basically refer to pieces of code that have been compiled and stored together and these can be used to perform certain functions when called upon. In most cases, Libraries are always written to be reused by other programmers but you as a programmer can develop your own as well.

Frameworks on the other hand is an abstraction in which common code providing generic functionality can be selectively overridden or specialized by user code providing specific functionality. There’s always a thin line between frameworks and libraries and just to make it clear, software frameworks have these features that distinguish them from libraries:

  1. Inversion of control – In a framework, unlike in libraries or normal user applications, the overall program’s flow of control is not dictated by the caller, but by the framework.
  2. Default behavior – A framework has a default behavior. This default behavior must actually be some useful behavior and not a series of no-ops.
  3. Extensibility – A framework can be extended by the user usually by selective overriding or specialized by user code providing specific functionality.
  4. Non-modifiable framework code – The framework code, in general, is not allowed to be modified. Users can extend the framework, but not modify its code.

For average website development, writing pure JavaScript code is enough to get the website functioning perfectly. The creation of a Single Page Application is a much more of advanced task than the development of a website and for such tasks, the use of a framework can go a long way is saving the developers time because they are just building on an already laid foundation. Some of the common JavaScript frameworks are Angular, React, VueJS, Ember or Polymer.

Apart from just saving time, another advantage of using a framework as a developer is that frameworks offer solid code that has been tested by hundreds of other developers (some of whom maybe skilled than you are). With your own code, chances of making mistakes are always high, some of which may pose security flaws in your application. With a framework however, this is less likely to happen.

For development of websites, a common library in place today is jQuery. jQuery is a JavaScript library designed to simplify HTML Document Object Model (DOM) tree traversal and manipulation, as well as event handling, animation, and Ajax. jQuery, therefore, aims to help you manipulate the page, saving the differences between different browsers and allowing you to write a single program that runs correctly in any web client. Besides, jQuery offers many functions that are useful for the development of many common tasks of websites, which you can use in a faster way than if you work only with JavaScript. Hence its slogan is “write less, do more.”

DOM is just an API that treats HTML, XHTML or XML documents as a tree structure where each node is an object representing part of the document.

For anyone getting started in JavaScript programming, learning pure JavaScript is the way to go and after you have a solid grasp of the language, you can now delve into using frameworks. As stated earlier, these frameworks are just flavors of JavaScript developed to make your work easier but you may not understand them if you don’t have the fundamental knowledge of JavaScript as a programming language.

JavaScript as the first language

If you are learning to program, JavaScript is an excellent language to start with. The main reasons why to start with JavaScript are:

Simplicity and ease of use

For JavaScript code to be executed, all that is required is a web browser. You don’t have to install any special compilers or anything. Furthermore, JavaScript is an interpreted language thus there is no need to compile the language to any object code for it to run.

Also compared to other languages, JavaScript code is not OS dependent as long as there’s a browser installed on your system then this code would certainly run.

JavaScript is also known to be a weakly typed language which means the rules regarding its syntax are less strict compared to strongly typed languages such as C.

Wide scope of application

As already mentioned, the applications of JavaScript go far than any programming language can go. By learning JavaScript, you can become a full-stack web developer, a Desktop or even mobile app developer. With all this power in one language, it probably will save you the hassle of having to master several languages.

It is a standard language of the web

As a professional programmer, you may want to work in the web environment at some point in your career. Learning how to program in JavaScript will help you understand web basics which are significant for any programmer working on the web.

Many web based professions require knowledge of JavaScript

The more reason why you should start off with JavaScript is that the language is the fundamental pillar for web programming. With just months of JavaScript study, you will be able to do marvelous things especially on the web and this means you can quickly land your first job as a developer through JavaScript. Some of these jobs are:

  • developing for the front-end

As a front-end developer, you will be responsible for the development of the client side. However, apart from programming, front-end development requires skills in other fields which include web design, layout, user interface development etc. When it comes to performance, JavaScript is important in ensuring flawless performance of the web application which is the most important aspect.

  • Developing for the back-end

As a back-end developer, server-side programming is the key thing and this is very much possible with JavaScript. This is possible by use of Node.js. In as much as some popular languages still dominate this side of web programming, the major advantages of using NodeJS on the back-end is that it offers good asynchrony, speed and optimisation, which makes it an ideal language for many back-end applications.

  •  Full-stack development jobs

A full-stack developer is one that is capable of working both on the client side and on the server side. In reality, coming by a full-stack developer is not easy due to the fact that it requires a great deal of knowledge to become a full-stack developer. Traditionally, full-stack developers don’t really seem to exist because of the huge load of programming languages you need to have at your fingertips. With JavaScript however, being a full-stack developer is very much possible considering you can use the same language to handle both client and server side. It breaks down the workload for all you need to add to it is a little knowledge of databases, and mainly HTML and CSS.

How to go from 0-100 in JavaScript

Being outstanding at JavaScript or any programming language for that matter requires months of dedicated study and practice. Taking baby steps at first and building a firm grasp of the basics is, however, the best way to start off. As soon as you are comfortable with the basics of the language, building on to it will be very easy and sooner than you expect, you’ll be able to write amazing code with little effort. It is however important to remember that practice is very important and with constant practice, you will become a master sooner than you know.

Here are some tips to get you started in the right direction.

Start with learning pure JavaScript, not a framework

Most of the frameworks are basically derivatives of JavaScript meaning anything you can do with a framework or a library can also be done with pure JavaScript.

The advantage of this is that even as much as you may have to use these framework/libraries in the end, learning pure JavaScript gives you a good understanding of whatever is being done with these frameworks and with this understanding, you will know which one suits your particular needs. You may also want to customise the libraries to do a particular task and this may be a problem of you don’t know the fundamentals of the language.

Have a good grasp of how things work on the web

Having a good understanding of your working environment is key to your success in this profession. As a JavaScript programmer, your playground will mainly be on the web and therefore having its fundamental working processes at your fingertips is certainly a boost.

Some of these fundamentals include:

Good understanding of the medium: You must know what the Internet is and generally how the web works. Get to understand networking and mainly HTTP protocol. Understand SSL and how to get SSL certificates to ensure your clients’ data is secure through your website. Knowledge about Domain names and how it works is also important.

Sharpen your Design skills: Although you will mainly be a programmer, it is ideal to have good design skills especially as a front-end developer. Having a good taste of design will make you stand out among most programmers who in most cases overlook this bit of being a complete front-end developer.

Build your programming knowledge and skills: Dedicating to the path of a programmer is not easy mainly because programming is a dynamic profession. If you have decided to dedicate yourself to the profession of programming, it is never enough to just have a basic understanding of code and programming. It is important to have as much knowledge as possible. Take interest in other styles of programming as well eg. object-oriented programming, be interested in software analysis and design, design patterns, etc. You also should not forget to keep up with the trends and be quick to grasp new technologies that cross your path professionally.

Know your tools: Just like any other profession, a good understanding of your tools is important for your success in the field of programmer. Become familiar with the command line, equip yourself with basic server administration skills and get to understand task automation through the version control tools ( Git preferably) and other things related to the field of the web and internet platform.

With so much free information on the web today, you can build yourself a successful career in programming and become the best of what you can be. If you need professional guidance, we at ProgrammingAssignmentHelp.net can guide you into becoming the success you want to become. Our experts can offer well-tailored coaching lessons that will always help you overcome the small tumble blocks you may experience.