The seven ordeals of the web application developer – Part 6

Developers who seek their fortune in the web business applications market must face and survive seven ordeals and success will only favour those who come prepared.

1. The First Ordeal: User experience

2. The Second Ordeal: Compatibility

3. The Third Ordeal: Time to market

4. The Fourth Ordeal: Finding the right tool

5. The Fifth Ordeal: Integration

6. The Sixth Ordeal: JavaScript

The race is over.  JavaScript is the only native programming option on the browser and it is unlikely that this will change.  Some love this language – others hate it.  Attempts to circumvent it have failed.  Ajax applications and Chrome Experiments have demonstrated its power and promise of wonderful things to come.

JavaScript presents the web developer with further challenges.  It is yet another language that must be learned and mastered.  Designed as an interpreted scripting language, it lacks the rigors of compilers hence it is more difficult to use when developing large and complex systems.  For the same reason it is hardly used on the server-side, requiring the developer to think in multiple languages across platforms.

Since the browser is the platform and the emergence of web Operating Systems will further make the underlying hardware irrelevant, JavaScript will increasingly play the role of “machine language” or the “assembly language” of this new platform.

There is no doubt that mastering JavaScript is a good investment for web developers, much the same way that knowledge of assembler is useful for system programmers.  However, in time, knowledge of JavaScript will no longer be a prerequisite and cross-compilers will allow the use of higher level languages by those who do not wish to learn or program directly in JavaScript.

There are many advantages in treating JavaScript as the “machine language” of the web and using cross-compilers that allow developers to use a single language of their choice for both browser and server side development.  But this will no doubt be the subject of great controversy and ideological wars as was the case with the assembler on the desktop.  The increasing complexity of applications will eventually settle the issue and modern IDEs will shield the developers from the challenge of JavaScript.

To be continued . . .

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