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A screenshot of a video of Keith Fahlgren presenting at Fluent Conf 2012

The following session was given at Fluent Conf 2012 as part of their Business of JavaScript workshop. You can watch the complete video (as well as many, many others from the conference) on Safari Books Online. I highly recommend the keynotes from Brendan Eich (JavaScript at 17) and Nicole Sullivan (Don’t Feed The Trolls) as well as the FT Labs‘ Andrew Betts‘ We’ve Got a Website for That.

[slideshare id=13938589&w=427&h=356&sc=no]

There are slides available for download.

Here’s a tremendously condensed version:

JavaScript is ready to be used by professional software developers as a real programming language. It is ready to be actively learned and studied as it if were a grown-up tool and it is also ready for the Enterprise. It is (finally) becoming boring (and mature), and that is actually a wonderful thing.

Why invest now?

There are three primary reasons to bet on JavaScript today: while its past was Unicode Character ‘PILE OF POO’ (U+1F4A9) and its future is somewhat complicated, the water is warm and inviting at present. Specifically, nothing is more ubiquitous than JavaScript. And after a long and meandering road, it has finally arrived:

  • The number of books about JavaScript rises every year.
  • The number of bytes of JavaScript sent over the wires rises steadily (thx, HTTP Archive).
  • The number of very-very-high-level languages built with JavaScript underneath continues to grow (consider CoffeeScript and Dart in particular).

Finally, JavaScript is now mature enough that it has started accumulating its own enterprise acronyms (or at least participating in the acronym party).

JavaScript has many peculiarities…but which matter?

JavaScript was born as a language expressly designed to be used by non-programmers. Because of this, it has many strange vestigial tails. For professionals, some aspects of JavaScript are unsettling:

  • JavaScript is a language without a strong culture, in part because it does not have a module system.
  • It is noteworthy that Maintainable JavaScript exists, but O’Reilly hasn’t published any other “Maintainable X” books.

What to avoid

Just because JavaScript is ready for the Enterprise does not mean that transitioning Enterprise developers to JavaScript will be easy. Even after getting them over their past aversions, there are plenty of pitfalls. In particular, I think people should:

  • Impose structure in their JavaScript from day one (perhaps with a library like Backbone.js, or whatever works for you)
  • Avoid the fact that shiny new frameworks are being announced every single day (stick with the older ones, where “older” is relative in JavaScript land)
  • Understand that (proper) testing will be hard and plan accordingly
  • Be terrified of how difficult offline access will be in the real world

Tags: Javascript,


  1.  The Ups and Downs of Investing in JavaScript: Fluent Conference 2012 session | Safari Books Online's Official Blog