JavaScript: How Did We Get Here?
Subject:   Who Moves Javascript Forward?
Date:   2001-04-07 11:03:51
From:   dale
As Steven points out, JavaScript has seemed to succeed in spite of its shortcomings and the complexity of maintaining fully-compatible scripts.

The problem is the lack of a standard
interpreter in all the different versions
of browsers. It's a shame that the Javascript interpreter can't be replaced as a separate
component -- and upgraded independently
of the browser. That would create the
opportunity to source the interpreter from
a third-party. In the end, Flash, as
a plug-in, has provided a more standardized
interpreter that is not dependent on the
brower vendor.

Is there an open source Javascript interpreter? I read about one written in Java but it was
for stand-alone scripts. It would be interesting to know if there was a way to replace the embedded interpreter with a more standardized Javascript plug-in.

Another strike against Javascript is
that ever since Netscape became a ghost
company, there has been no real owner
or champion of Javascript, no one really
driving the language forward. Maybe
Microsoft is doing that, but I don't think
so. ECMA and a standards process is
not necessarily the way to move a language
forward, and must almost always seem to
define a least common denominator. In short,
I can't see the path that leads to the
improvement of Javascript,
or who might innovate to solve some of its

It's too bad because the browser really needs
a scripting language -- not just to create
a dynamic interface for web sites, either.
The end user needs scripting to automate tasks that are done manually in a browser or to create
useful spiders.

I'd be interested in knowing what more could be done to improve the prospects for Javascript in the future.

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  • Who Moves Javascript Forward?
    2001-04-10 04:37:00  caugusti [View]

    The lack of a pluggable interpreter is really obvious. One could see JavaScript's star going down slowly because of all these (mostly irrelevant) bugs and magazine's started to ban JavaScript.

    On the other hand, I see another important issue -- probably the most important, imho. What really broke the prospects of JavaScript, in addition to all the security flaws, was this so-called "Browser-War". You could see everyone talking about JavaScript once, I don't see another programming language which attracted so many people (non-programmers) because of its promising simplicity. It's only comparable to the Home Computer revolution and BASIC. And what happened? People just abandoned trust in JavaScript and the technologies around. Can you expect to explain the difference of event bubble and capture to a non-programmer. Someone who just wants to enhance his pages in a simple manner as he's used to when working with the Web?

    Right now, I'm seeing great prospects for JavaScript. The DOM is here, available for the masses. It's simple and powerful enough to help people navigate through a XMLized world. I just see it everytime I'm teaching JavaScript. People get curious when they hear about this powerful duo of JavaScript AND the DOM, they're curious about write-once-run-everywhere (well, ;-o ).

    Enforcing the usage of standards, we can continue the evolution. Opening JavaScript to the masses and pushing it to the critical mass. Actually JavaScript has never been down, it was only slowed down by proprietary and incompatible technologies around it.

    Dale, your comment about spiders caught my attention. I always considered this being one of the most natural applications for JavaScript, but, try to create one...

    What we need for the future:
    - A standard Browser-API for accessing the basic functions.
    - A way to plug JavaScripts into your browser without hosting them in a document.
    - A standard WWW security model for Web Client applications.
    - A pluggable JavaScript interpreter, preferably with some Smart Install option which checks for security updates regularly.
  • Derrick Story photo Who Moves Javascript Forward?
    2001-04-07 16:05:34  Derrick Story | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

    Short of having browsers so capable that we can replace the need for these types of scripts all together, I'm interested in the component approach to JavaScript too.

    For example, one thing I like about Java is the Virtual Machine component. When using IE 5 on the Mac, I can choose between Apple's VM, or Microsoft's version. At this point, I think Apple's delivers better performance, and I like having the option to use that VM without having to switch to another browser.

    I would like that same sort of option for JavaScript. But as Dale pointed out in his previous note, no one really seems to "own" JavaScript these days.