Javascript: 2017 and beyond

February 8, 2017 | by Diego Delgadillo

In App development, developers, UX

Ok, ok… so all of a sudden JavaScript exploded on every possible trend you could find on the internet. Fine, fine, that might be a bit of an overstatement. After 21 years, however, a scripting language for the web has now become an essential tool for development, testing, deployment, and production. 

Most of this transformation and conversation was not small talk at the XEROX machine, but instead came in the form of internet surveyThis produced a lot of responses (and quite a lot of different perspectives).  There was then an over-the-top post on Medium, that either made you laugh, cry, angry or some combination of the three.

  • "It seems JavaScript is going in two directions, where one is functional and the other one is object-oriented programming and Java-like syntax."
  • "Web development is an absolute nightmare."
  • "JavaScript is almost beyond repair at this point."
  • "In many ways, JavaScript/CSS is moving along well; I'd just wish browsers kept up."
  • "It's a silly language, and yet I can't get enough of it."
  • "It has taken over 20 years to get this unruly abomination of a language to a useful and enjoyable state."
  • "The state of JavaScript is there is too little attention to keeping things simple."
  • "The future looks bright."

How polarizing was all that?

For the better or worse, the limits of JavaScript have extended way beyond its intended purpose. What started in Netscape Navigator in 1995 as a web companion, is now the heart and soul of the developers’ tools.  It helped launch Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. You can now interact with modern day applications without having to hit the F5 button every single time.  Now, more than 20 years later, an abundance of frameworks, tools, and services keeps growing at an exponential levels.

Javascript frameworks right nowFive of the zillions Javascript frameworks you can now find.

Angular and React are now well positioned as front runner frameworks, giving both Google and Facebook big payoffs. Meteor, Ember and Backbone, however, are another set of reliable tools. Vue.js, also has created a presence of its own. Web Assembly, Service Workers and Progressive Web Apps expect to flourish.

Libraries like CreateJS serve as a swiss-army-knife. Npm is not alone in the Node.js environment because the tech-giant from Menlo Park presented Yarn. ES6, the ECMAScript standard were introduced in 2015 and are now known as ES2015.  This still has some struggles with browsers, but fortunately there is TypeScript and Babel to close the gap.

The downside of all this overabundance, however, is that the Javascript environment became sort of uncontrollable and unpredictable. We reached a point where new tools are released in a span of a week.  This can happen without knowing whether or not there is something with the same intended purpose already there.

As a result, the Linux Foundation, the world's most recognized association in technology, has launched the JavaScript Foundation (JS Foundation in short) which goal focuses on validating open-source contributions and establishing best practices, in order to increase collaboration as well as understanding how the platform could become much more reliable.

The brand new project Javascript FoundationJS Foundation, a new project from The Linux Foundation.

It's not easy to adjust to keep up with the fast-paced changes of this world, and it can become messy and complex in terms of scope. Most people didn't realize the potential a scripting language had, and that is when JavaScript left its own comfort zone (that is to say…the browser) to explore new grounds. It seems at first that there is no middle ground.  Either you love it or hate it, but the fact of what it has done for the developing world is incredible. We actually care about building a better community.

So... Is JavaScript the greatest thing it happened to the internet since the invention of the http protocol? Or is it only a discombobulated mess which will eventually overload its purposes and self-destruct? It's already 2017, and we don't have an answer for that, and we might never get it.  All we know is that JavaScript has crossed the barriers of the web browser to make its presence known in areas where C++ or Java were usually the only ones. So brace yourself (or should I say, embrace?).