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What is Javascript?

Parwinder 👨🏻‍💻
Happy, cheerful, confident. Web developer based out of Chicago :)
Updated on ・2 min read


A direct quote from the Mozilla developer's network or MDN

JavaScript is a scripting or programming language that allows you to implement complex features on web pages — every time a web page does more than just sit there and display static information for you to look at — displaying timely content updates, interactive maps, animated 2D/3D graphics, scrolling video jukeboxes, etc. — you can bet that JavaScript is probably involved.

In short, it makes your pages feel more dynamic. A webpage generally speaking consists of three key elements:

  1. HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): This allows you to create the structure of the web page
  2. CSS (Cascading stylesheet): This is to make that web page look pretty 😊
  3. JavaScript: Allows you to do anything dynamic with the page including fetching data from a server or making the page interactive


JavaScript was not always known as JavaScript. It started with the name LiveScript. At the time of the creation of JavaScript, Java was a common language, and it was decided to add the word Java to it. It does not have any relationship with Java, in any case. There is a famous/corny saying

Java is to JavaScript as a car is to carpet

As it evolved, it got to be known as ECMAScript. The name JavaScript is a trademark owned by Oracle Corp. in the United States. Don't believe me? Check it out

Why is JavaScript popular?

When I say JavaScript is popular, I mean it. According to the Stack Overflow 2019 developer's survey, it is the most popular language. For 7 years in a row!

Stack Overflow 2019 Developer Survey Results

So what makes it so famous?

  1. It works well with the other two components of a webpage (HTML and CSS)
  2. Minimal learning curve (which has been considered a good or bad for the language)
  3. Supported by all major browsers and enabled by default
  4. Works without any compilation or transpiling
  5. It can run in the browser or server-side. It can run on anything that can support the JavaScript engine (V8, Trident, SpiderMonkey)

Hopefully, by now, I have sold you on the idea of JavaScript and why it is fun to work with. In the next few blog posts, we will go over the basics of running JavaScript and introduction to principles of JavaScript. As we take a deeper dive into these basics, you will also realize that it's relatively easy to make mistakes if you don't know what you are doing. We will learn from the mistakes of the past and try to be a better JavaScript developer.

Discussion (5)

zoedreams profile image

Thank you for sharing. But wikipedia is wrong. That is mis-information. There was a prototype of CoffeeScript which came out of the incubator of Netscape. CoffeeScript was the project name of the script implementation of the new Java web server technology, that ultimately became the company Oracle.

Its a shame how companies try to change the history to try to get a competitive advantage. Similiar to how MIcrosoft and Apple used to work very closely together, and honestly i dont think we would have a Mac Classic if bill didn't push so hard to try to author Mac's original image processing encoders.

I disagree with what makes JS so powerful. What i believe makes JS so fluid is that it is managed by a not for profit organization who is steering the language for what is best for every human, not just 1 company.. fb react, cough cough..

bhagatparwinder profile image
Parwinder 👨🏻‍💻 Author

I always welcome constructive feedback. I honestly do not know what part of my post are you referring to in your first paragraph. Is it the fact that I called it LiveScript?

As far as I am aware the prototype that came out of Netscape was called Mocha that transformed to LiveScript and eventually to JavaScript. Correct me if I am wrong and I'll happily change the post.

So all the factors I listed for JS being popular/powerful do not matter and it gained popularity solely because it is run by a not for profit? I do see not-for-profit as another good selling point to JS but not the sole selling point. That being said, for-profit companies like FB created React and I would call it a good library.

zoedreams profile image

no no, your entire article was spot on. It's just the naming part. And yes before CoffeeScript it was Mocha. There was another language that was developing at the time which was LiveScript; very obscure. Is just that i grew up with this and help research this at UMass Amherst from 1993 to 1995. Again I am going by my personal experience. From my memory it was Mocha -> CoffeeScript -> JavaScript.

Your article is very well written. The beginning history of JS is very hazy, and needs more investigative journalism like your written. Cheers!

Well ECMAScripten is regulated by the W3C which is a not-for profit public benefit; which is tied closely with Mozilla. My opinion; I believe JS has grown to be as successful as a language because of its ability to evolve and adapt quickly, based on putting the needs of the programmers above the needs of marketing sales. c# of the failed F# cough cough..

Anyways thank you for this discussion, i can talk about this all day! Thank you for your interest in math and JavaScript! It is people like you that make it worth all the all nighters!


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bhagatparwinder profile image
Parwinder 👨🏻‍💻 Author

This is great to know. Appreciate all the feedback and I hope I continue to get the same in the future. My knowledge about the history of JavaScript came from an auth0 article:

Haha I do agree with the great work Mozilla Foundation and W3C have done for the JS language.

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zoedreams profile image

OMG i totally just remembers i used to program ActionScript. This history of how adobe its flash is pretty interesting too.