Facilitating the Spread of Knowledge and Innovation in Professional Software Development

Write for InfoQ


Choose your language

InfoQ Homepage News JavaScript: Its Evolution as a Language

JavaScript: Its Evolution as a Language

This item in japanese

JavaScript (classically, ECMAScript) has been progressing steadily since it received a significant update as ECMAScript edition 3 in 1999. has been tracking the updates on JavaScript on its web site.

The latest proposal Netscape's ECMAScript Edition 4 for JavaScript 2.0 is available online. John Resig, the creator of jQuery project, has posted some thoughts on his blog:
I think we’ve seen the JavaScript language move through many individual phases:

* The "We need scripting for web pages" phase. (Netscape)
* The "We should standardize this" phase. (ECMAScript)
* The "JavaScript isn’t a toy" phase. (Ajax)
* The "JavaScript as a programming language" phase.

JavaScript was created in 1995 by Brendan Eich (an engineer at Netscape) and first released with Netscape 2 early in 1996. JavaScript as a language has been explored in the past in writings such as The World's Most Misunderstood Programming Language by Douglas Crockford (developer of JSON), and recently such as The Next Big Language by Google's Steve Yegge (who ported Rails to Javascript/Rhino). John Resig continues on his blog saying:

... JavaScript will be treated as a significant programming language - divorced from the concept of web development.
Non-Web-based Use

JavaScript on Rails - Granted, at this point, this project may as well be pure vaporware, but it's caught the attention of the right people. When one of the most popular software bloggers talks about how there's a "next big language" coming up and then announces his massive re-write of the popular Ruby on Rails framework, in JavaScript, running on Rhino - people tend to pay attention. ...

Helma - This web application framework is a long standing stalwart of server-side development with JavaScript (again, using Rhino). ...
All of this leads me up to a point: JavaScript is actively advancing, as a language. While it’s most popular domain will probably always be in web browsers (with new JavaScript engines pointing in that continued direction), the advancement of server-side uses of JavaScript will only make for a much larger area for possible development in the upcoming years.
To quote Steve Yegge from his blog:
...because the Next Big Language (NBL from now on) is going to arrive very soon (timeline: 18-24 months, as far as I can tell, which in language terms means "imminent") ...

Many saw Steve Yeggie as confirming the Next Big Language to be Javascript or ECMAScript. As of this writing, it is understood from Mozilla pages that the intent is to make JavaScript 2.0 and ECMAScript Edition 4 the same language with JavaScript 2.0 offering a few additional features. JavaScript 2.0 draft specification can be found here. Stay tuned to the JavaScript thread at InfoQ for further news.

Rate this Article