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Dated: Aug. 12, 2004

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JavaScript Programming

Javascript is the most widely used client-side scripting language in the world today. No designer can create interactive and cross-browser HTML web pages without Javascript. It plays a vital role in the development of any project that has a presence on the net, so it is essential for all those interested in creating interactive web pages to learn Javascript. This discussion assumes an intermediate to advanced knowledge of HTML.

A little bit of history is always good

Before we start discussing Javascript and its capacities, let make one thing be clear - Java has nothing in common with Javascript apart from the first 4 letters. Java is a strongly typed, complied language developed by Sun Microsystems; Javascript, originally developed by Netscape is a lightweight interpreted language that was initially called Livescript.

Back in 1995 Netscape had just hired Brendan Eich to design a new language with the primary goal of making Netscape Navigator's support for Java applets more accessible to non Java programmers. Eich worked out that a loosely scripted language would be ideal for the bulk of the targeted audience, mainly web designers and developers who were not trained in object-oriented software design. The language thus created was called Livescript.

Livescript lasted for about 6 months, then Netscape decided to capitalize on the name recognition whichJavaScript Tutorial Part I - Introduction Sun's Java was receiving, and on December 4, 1995 Netscape and Sun jointly announced Javascript. Very quickly Javascript gained acceptance among web developers and soon the dry web came alive with all sorts of magic which had viewers gasping, "how was that done ?". It was being used more commonly to provide interactivity than to control Java applets, the original goal.

Microsoft, seeing the success of Javascript came up with their own version called VBScript. Initially, it ran only on the Windows + Internet Explorer combination, and it had the Microsoft tag, which spells doom is some peoples minds. As a result VBScript 's fate was secured - it was meant to go.

On July 16, 1996 Microsoft released JScript, basically a port of Javascript. In other words it is another version of Javascript, but JScript was one step behind Javascript which by then allowed for the widely used image swapping. JScript did not have the provision for image swapping arrays. Among the many incompatibilities this was an important one.

In an effort to standardize the Javascript-JScript issue and the equally irritating (DOM) incompatibilities, Netscape and Sun submitted a proposal to the (ECMA). Standardization began in November 1996 and it was adopted by the ECMA in June 1997 and the ISO in April 1998. The standard was neither called Javascript nor JScript but ECMAScript. Meanwhile, both Microsoft and Netscape introduced the 4.0 browser generation each with its own DOM*. Developing websites became a two fold task, different scripts had to be written for Netscape and Microsoft browsers and tested thoroughly before publishing.

With all the browser wars raging, Microsoft, Netscape and dozens of other companies persuaded the W3C to lay down standards for a universal DOM while staying as much backward compatible with the original model (referred to as 'level 0' within the W3C). Thus at present ECMA provides the standards for the core Javascript language and W3C for the DOM.

And so we are here today, with the release of Netscape 6.2 and Internet Explorer 6 which has brought Javascript and JScript are closer than ever before. Netscape got some bricks for having given up some of its own technologies for the industry standard but in hind sight it was a wise move. So we shall work following the standards, with each developer conforming to the standards the industry moves towards an easier solution of the software manufacturer, the designer as well as the end-user.

Next week in Part 2 The Language, the basics of the Javascript language will be covered.

The DOM is defined by the developers of the browser. In short, it defines what of parts the browser window and the HTML document in the window are scriptable by a client-side scripting language.

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Eliseo's Comment
Nice introduction to pmogramring, keep up the good work LH.!I think you forgot a + between " " and myFavoriteNumber in the code arround 04:15 though. It should be:myName + " " + myStatement + " " + myFavoriteNumber + ".";
10 Fri Aug 2012
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