Software Development

Is JavaScript taking over?

The Prairie Dev Con conference was held in Winnipeg this year and something I noticed was the amount of JavaScript being used for everything from mobile to Windows 8 app development. It certainly looks like JavaScript is going to play a big part in many projects over the next few years and probably is already for some people.

Mobile Development
Developing software to work on the many different mobile environments is a costly and time consuming exercise which many companies may decide they cannot afford. As a result I think many will probably end up choosing to build some form of cross-platform web app instead. This is where JavaScript comes in as the driving force behind the variety of tools that are available. Some of the common tools out there are JQuery Mobile, PhoneGap and Sencha Touch, which all use JavaScript in some form to control the web experience via mobile.

There is also another option to consider that falls somewhere in between the native vs. web app decision. Xamarin is a tool that allows for cross-platform development to be written entirely in C#. It is then compiled into the appropriate native code for the different mobile options. (i.e. iOS, Android, Windows Phone) This looks like a good alternative that allows people to steer clear of JavaScript if they prefer and build a user experience that is more integrated with the mobile device.

Web Development
JavaScript is obviously going to remain in use for web development for some time yet, however there are a number of tools and frameworks available that are making it easier to work with.

There are a number of frameworks available to support different user interface architectures with JavaScript, such as Knockout, AngularJS and YUI.

There are also tools such as LESS and Sass to make the CSS easier to work with as well, so the traditional webpages with basic JavaScript and CSS are definitely evolving.

Windows 8 Apps
Windows 8 introduces the concept of an app to Windows users. For people who are used to building software in Windows, they will probably continue to use what they know and use C# and XAML. However it also supports building apps that are written with HTML5 and JavaScript to perform the tasks required by the app.

Moving on from JavaScript
So are we stuck with JavaScript for the long term? Not necessarily. CoffeeScript is a popular tool that makes it easier to generate JavaScript code. Another alternative is TypeScript which extends JavaScript. While Dart is an attempt by Google to build a replacement for JavaScript.

I’m unsure how long it will be before these alternatives start to take over, or if they ever will, however I think we will still be using Javascript for some time yet with the increasing reliance on it.

About Chris Watson

Chris Watson is a software developer at Protegra with over 13 years of experience in the field. He was born and raised in New Zealand, where he started his career in IT before moving to Winnipeg, Canada. Most of his work at Protegra has involved the use of TDD and a variety of open source tools. This work has re-ignited his passion for programming and has seen him share his knowledge throughout Protegra and to the wider community.


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