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

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Description

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

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

  • User profile image
    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...
  • User profile image
    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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