Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Javascript - more than bells and whistles

I've long dismissed Javascript as a language of limited value. Yes, it can add functionality to websites, but that's where I thought it stopped. Not so - it's use is extending server-side.

Firstly, there's Google Apps Scripts which is a great way to automate tasks in Google Apps (Gmail, Calendar, Sites, Docs etc). For example - my contact form now triggers a Script that sends the user (and me) a confirmation email. A simple example, but the potential for building useful web apps and gadgets in this way is massive.

Then there's the cross-platform mobile app frameworks such as PhoneGap which are also based not on Javascript. OK, mobile apps may be little more than wrappers for access to server-driven web applications, but these too are starting to be built in Javascript (see v8 and node.js).

As application development is increasingly webcentric, Javascript skills are no doubt useful for the client-side. That these skills can now be used for server-side development makes the language more appealing. Looks like my days of dismissing Javascript are over.