Charles

Douglas Crockford, Alex Russell and Joseph Smarr: On the Past, Present and Future of JavaScript

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JavaScript is a massively popular language.  Programs written in JavaScript can be deployed to more users and more machines than any other language given the prominence of script-enabled web browsers and web surfing.  Yet the language hasn’t evolved since the spec was signed off in 1999. Why?

At MIX08, we were lucky enough to get three of the world’s top JavaScript experts to talk to us about the future of the language, the “Zen” of JavaScript, and tips and tricks on performance and management of large JavaScript projects. 

Douglas Crockford is the guy who first identified and evangelized some of the techniques like closures and lambdas that are now mainstays of JavaScript ninjas.  He works at Yahoo! on JavaScript frameworks including the widely-use JavaScript toolkit in YUIAlex Russell is the creator of the popular Dojo Toolkit for JavaScript, and heavily involved in pushing improvements across the various runtimes.  Joseph Smarr is chief architect and employee #1 at Plaxo, and is a well-known expert on JavaScript best practices – you can see the talks he gave at Mozilla and Yahoo! on JavaScript performance.

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    The Discussion

    • SenorLambda
      Tres cool! I love to see Microsoft doing this interviews. Does anyone has more pointers to the thing Alex was talking about manycore? They had some good comments. My favorite one-liners: Joseph: "You can fake it with JavaScript, but you don't want to" "The web is about being promiscuous but safe" Alex: "Text on the web is the important thing. It doesn't matter what the browser does with it after that" Douglas: "JSON: XML without the crap", "JavaScript wasn't state of the art when it was introduced, and it hasn't aged well" and "All the current engines were optimized for time-to-market, and that time was 10 years ago"
    • JChung2006
      Great video!  I enjoyed listening to the perspectives of these JavaScript experts on the history, current state, and future of the world's most popular programming language.  I would have liked a little more technical discussion about the upcoming ECMAScript standard but enjoyable nonetheless!
    • earnshaw
      It is nice to see the enthusiasm for JavaScript, or enthusiasm for anything.  HTML, in its many incarnations, with or without the addition of CSS, and the so-called Document Object Model, and standards promulgated by the W3C, well...  As far as I'm concerned the whole web languages thing is an ad hoc muddle that was pushed by people who needed something, anything, that was able to put eye-popping advertisements on web pages.  JavaScript is a means through which a web page gets to tell the Browser to do "special" things, like ignore a user request to copy text, and like ensure a user fills out a form correctly using only local computing resources.  Naturally, being a full-featured language mainly for Browser instruction, JavaScript can be used to, par exemple, implement translation layers when necessary.   That would be an extension to the Browser that is implemented in a web page.  Whatever it takes.  Interesting name, JavaScript.  Really quite unrelated to the computer programming language Java, which can confuse the uninitiated.  In 100 years I expect the Internet to have evolved beyond ad hoc to something logical, clean, and comprehensible. 
    • Bas
      earnshaw wrote:
      It is nice to see the enthusiasm for JavaScript, or enthusiasm for anything.  HTML, in its many incarnations, with or without the addition of CSS, and the so-called Document Object Model, and standards promulgated by the W3C, well...  As far as I'm concerned the whole web languages thing is an ad hoc muddle 


      Agreed. The worst thing, IMHO, is that a whole generation of new web applications is going to be built on this quagmire.

      earnshaw wrote:
      In 100 years I expect the Internet to have evolved beyond ad hoc to something logical, clean, and comprehensible. 


      I think you're being optimistic.
    • cmaurya
      Haven't watched the video, but JavaScript *is* evolving as ECMAScript ... http://www.ecmascript.org  (and also as Adobe's ActionScript
       language).
    • saju
      Great Stuff!!
      Keep the good work Charles!!!
    • Ion Todirel
      nice to see Charles too, you shouldn't hide behind camera Charles, nice video
    • Charles

      Thanks! I'll probably spend about half of the time in front of the camera as the year rolls on... Or maybe not. Smiley


      C

    • esoteric
      I don't agree that it's important for a language to be stable for it to be useful and make things like AJAX (yawn) possible. As long as changes are backwards compatible, no problem. Even if not, you can create a compiler for the old version that maps to the new version. I hope we'll see a new language in the browser. Of course we can compile more efficient languages down to Javascript, but building a castle on sand is not that appealing...
    • ymasuda_
      As engineering popularity of JavaScript met the 2nd chance from AJAX and that industrially dedicated standard efforts, Java computing industory is obliged more to invest for assets.

      One of cautious terms in given subject of JavaScript development survival is that JavaScript processor has been hailing more investment groups as much as industry promotes AJAX processing capability. In other word, industrial solution might compensate Java development business assets beyond foudemental JavaScript and AJAX integration. To be frank with JavaScript, AJAX stays in focus of standard and more industrial investments. That seems to be different business trend from other popular languages.

      Designers of Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR) may considerably demand asynchronous processing pipeline of languages to tackle AJAX like activity focused processing mode..

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