PEO­PLE ARE NOW EVEN DO­ING MA­CHINE LEARN­ING IN JAVASCRIPT

JavaScript has al­ready emerged as the back­bone of the fast-grow­ing world of the Web. But how is open source en­abling JavaScript to power ad­vanced Web de­vel­op­ments? Bren­dan Eich, the cre­ator of JavaScript, spoke to Jag­meet Singh of OSFY to re­veal the se­cre

OpenSource For You - - For U & Me -

Q

What was the fore­most aim of de­vel­op­ing JavaScript?

I joined Netscape to ‘do Scheme’ in the browser. But on my first day at work, I learned that Sun and Netscape were work­ing on a Java in­te­gra­tion deal. So, with Marc An­dreessen di­rectly, and Bill Joy at Sun sup­port­ing me, I came up with a plan to make a dy­namic lan­guage with Java (or the C fam­ily) syn­tax, which peo­ple who were not pro­fes­sional pro­gram­mers could write di­rectly in the HTML Web page source. We wanted a script­ing lan­guage to com­ple­ment Java, akin to Vis­ual Ba­sic for Vis­ual C++ in Mi­crosoft’s Win­dows plat­form. This would em­power more peo­ple to start pro­gram­ming, by glu­ing com­po­nents to­gether with a lit­tle script in the page. The com­po­nents were pro­jected to be ei­ther built-in (the ‘DOM level 0’ which I im­ple­mented along with JavaScript for Netscape 2), or we hoped they could be writ­ten in Java by higher-priced pro­gram­mers.

Q

JavaScript is presently ubiq­ui­tous in the world of the

Web. What is the rea­son be­hind its suc­cess?

There are three rea­sons that I see as crit­i­cal and re­lated. JavaScript it­self is cer­tainly the first and fore­most rea­son be­hind its suc­cess. The sec­ond rea­son is its enough pow­er­ful ba­sic fea­tures. And the third one is the ease in ex­tend­ing the frame­work and patch­ing (so-called ‘mon­key-patch­ing’ and ‘ob­ject de­tec­tion’. All this en­abled Web de­vel­op­ers to com­pen­sate for ver­sion dif­fer­ences and even ex­tend old or in­com­pat­i­ble browsers to re­sem­ble newer or dif­fer­ent ones.

Q

How has the open source com­mu­nity helped in mak­ing JavaScript the star of the Web world?

Even be­fore Mozilla or an open source im­ple­men­ta­tion of JavaScript, I used all the early adopter sup­port tech­niques and en­ergy that I had ac­quired over the years in soft­ware, go­ing back to Sil­i­con Graph­ics. I helped de­vel­op­ers find work­arounds and re­duce test cases. I an­swered ques­tions promptly. Also, I groomed help­ful sec­ond and third (vir­tual or even real) team-mates. Netscape even­tu­ally al­lo­cated and hired more peo­ple to work on JavaScript in late 1996. Be­fore that I had im­por­tant vol­un­teer help.

Q

Do you con­sider JavaScript as a dom­i­nant fac­tor in new, emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies like IoT and wear­ables?

Thanks to Node.js and the mod­ule ecosys­tem it spawned, JavaScript has moved strongly into servers and IoT de­vices. Peo­ple are now even do­ing ma­chine learn­ing in JavaScript. Early hob­by­ist-level work such as Johnny Five en­dures and grows. I ex­pect th­ese trends will con­tinue over time.

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