What is javascript – learn web development mdn electricity water analogy animation

Welcome to the MDN beginner’s JavaScript course! In this article we will look at JavaScript from a high level, answering questions such as "What is it?" and "What can you do with it?", and making sure you are comfortable with JavaScript’s purpose. Prerequisites:

JavaScript is a scripting or programming language that allows you to implement complex things on web pages — every time a web page does more than just sit there and display static information for you to look at — displaying timely content updates, interactive maps, animated 2D/3D graphics, scrolling video jukeboxes, etc. — you can bet that JavaScript is probably involved. It is the third layer of the layer cake of standard web technologies, two of which ( HTML and CSS) we have covered in much more detail in other parts of the Learning Area.

• JavaScript is a scripting language that enables you to create dynamically updating content, control multimedia, animate images, and pretty much everything else. (Okay, not everything, but it is amazing what you can achieve with a few lines of JavaScript code.)

APIs are ready-made sets of code building blocks that allow a developer to implement programs that would otherwise be hard or impossible to implement. They do the same thing for programming that ready-made furniture kits do for home building — it is much easier to take ready-cut panels and screw them together to make a bookshelf than it is to work out the design yourself, go and find the correct wood, cut all the panels to the right size and shape, find the correct-sized screws, and then put them together to make a bookshelf.

• The DOM (Document Object Model) API allows you to manipulate HTML and CSS, creating, removing and changing HTML, dynamically applying new styles to your page, etc. Everytime you see a popup window appear on a page, or some new content displayed (as we saw above in our simple demo) for example, that’s the DOM in action.

• Audio and Video APIs like HTMLMediaElement and WebRTC allow you to do really interesting things with multimedia, such as play audio and video right in a web page, or grab video from your web camera and display it on someone else’s computer (try our simple Snapshot demo to get the idea).

There’s a lot more available, too! However, don’t get over excited just yet. You won’t be able to build the next Facebook, Google Maps or Instagram after studying JavaScript for 24 hours — there are a lot of basics to cover first. And that’s why you’re here — let’s move on! What is JavaScript doing on your page?

Let’s briefly recap the story of what happens when you load a web page in a browser (first talked about in our How CSS works article). When you load a web page in your browser, you are running your code (the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) inside an execution environment (the browser tab). This is like a factory that takes in raw materials (the code) and outputs a product (the web page).

The JavaScript is executed by the browser’s JavaScript engine, after the HTML and CSS have been assembled and put together into a web page. This ensures that the structure and style of the page are already in place by the time the JavaScript starts to run.

This is a good thing, as a very common use of JavaScript is to dynamically modify HTML and CSS to update a user interface, via the Document Object Model API (as mentioned above). If the JavaScript loaded and tried to run before the HTML and CSS were there to affect, then errors would occur. Browser security

Each browser tab is its own separate bucket for running code in (these buckets are called "execution environments" in technical terms) — this means that in most cases the code in each tab is run completely separately, and the code in one tab cannot directly affect the code in another tab — or on another website. This is a good security measure — if this were not the case, then pirates could start writing code to steal information from other websites, and other such bad things.

You might hear the terms interpreted and compiled in the context of programming. JavaScript is an interpreted language — the code is run from top to bottom and the result of running the code is immediately returned. You don’t have to transform the code into a different form before the browser runs it.

You might also hear the terms server-side and client-side code, especially in the context of web development. Client-side code is code that is run on the user’s computer — when a web page is viewed, the page’s client-side code is downloaded, then run and displayed by the browser. In this JavaScript module we are explicitly talking about client-side JavaScript.

Server-side code on the other hand is run on the server, then its results are downloaded and displayed in the browser. Examples of popular server-side web languages include PHP, Python, Ruby, and ASP.NET. And JavaScript! JavaScript can also be used as a server-side language, for example in the popular Node.js environment — you can find out more about server-side JavaScript in our Dynamic Websites – Server-side programming topic. Dynamic versus static code

The word dynamic is used to describe both client-side JavaScript, and server-side languages — it refers to the ability to update the display of a web page/app to show different things in different circumstances, generating new content as required. Server-side code dynamically generates new content on the server, e.g. pulling data from a database, whereas client-side JavaScript dynamically generates new content inside the browser on the client, e.g. creating a new HTML table, filling it with data requested from the server, then displaying the table in a web page shown to the user. The meaning is slightly different in the two contexts, but related, and both approaches (server-side and client-side) usually work together.

JavaScript is applied to your HTML page in a similar manner to CSS. Whereas CSS uses elements to apply external stylesheets and elements to apply internal stylesheets to HTML, JavaScript only needs one friend in the world of HTML — the element. Let’s learn how this works. Internal JavaScript

As with HTML and CSS, it is possible to write comments into your JavaScript code that will be ignored by the browser, and exist simply to provide instructions to your fellow developers on how the code works (and you, if you come back to your code after six months and can’t remember what you did). Comments are very useful, and you should use them often, particularly for larger applications. There are two types:

So there you go, your first step into the world of JavaScript. We’ve begun with just theory, to start getting you used to why you’d use JavaScript and what kind of things you can do with it. Along the way, you saw a few code examples and learned how JavaScript fits in with the rest of the code on your website, amongst other things.

JavaScript may seem a bit daunting right now, but don’t worry — in this course, we will take you through it in simple steps that will make sense going forward. In the next article, we will plunge straight into the practical, getting you to jump straight in and build your own JavaScript examples.