Front-End Quiz Part 2, The Philosophy of JavaScript


What is the underlying philosophy of JavaScript? (As used on the web)

  1. As a way to add interactivity to a page, as opposed to HTML alone, which is static.

    I think this is only partially true. The problem is, as a philosophy, "to add interactivity" doesn't go to the root of the issue. This definition, however, is a sufficient one for those not involved in architecting the front-end.

  2. JavaScript defines the behavior layer.

    This is where I set up camp. This way of thinking about JavaScript is now emerging as the Way of Enlightenment, often dubbed "Unobtrusive JavaScript." The web consists of three layers: Content, Presentation and Behavior. These correspond to HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and it's best to keep them separate, living in separate files. The HTML layer is considered the base-functionality layer, and the other layers are considered the enhancement layers. It's a very elegant paradigm.

  3. As a client-side programming language, as opposed to a server-side language.

    True, but it doesn't really get us anywhere. While not incorrect, I don't think this distinction is the most significant or useful way of thinking about JavaScript. Perhaps this definition is popular because many programmers code mainly for the server, and tend to contemplate JavaScript in comparison to that task.


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About

My name is Greg Reimer and I'm a web technologist for the Sun.COM web design team.

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