Javascript: A Newbie’s Guide to get started with JS


What is javascript?

JavaScript is a programming language which for most of its lifetime only ran on web browsers. HTML, CSS, and Javascript are the core technologies of the web. So, a JavaScript compiler comes built-in into a web browser.

But, JavaScript has moved far beyond its humble beginnings. Nowadays, it is more than a scripting language to add a bit of dynamism to websites. Due to the inception of projects like node and deno, it can be used in the web backend instead of languages such as Java, PHP, ruby, python, etc. Due to projects like the native script and react-native, it can be used to create mobile applications. Due to projects such as Electron, it can be used to create desktop applications as well. It can be used in embedded systems. It is a very competent general-purpose programming language today.

What is EcmaScript? Is Javascript the same as EcmaScript?

Javascript is a trademark name owned by Oracle. Netscape’s version of Javascript was called Javascript. Netscape and Sun Microsystems (which is currently owned by Oracle) had an agreement on that. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer version of Javascript was called JScript and the actual technical name of Javascript is Ecmascript. But, the name Javascript caught on so everyone calls it that.

ECMAScript is a standards document that suggests how Javascript language should be implemented across browsers.

What is ES5, ES6 (ES2015), ES2016, etc?

After the ES3 version of the ECMAScript specification Javascript stagnated. It took years and a lot of politics to get it moving forward. There was a proposed ES4 document that proposed breaking changes into the language but “don’t break the internet” advocates argued that breaking changes is bad for the web because it will break a lot of websites that are relying on an older version of the specification. And, browser vendors were not keen on implementing ES4 either so in December 2009, they came much with much lighter addition to the language called ES5. Later in 2015, a new spec called ES2015 released, but everyone called that one ES6 and since then new features are added on Javascript (Ecmascript) every year without breaking any old features. If you wish to read more about this, this article explains it well.

  • A committee named TC-39 agrees on the features to be implemented on the next version of JS (Javascript).
  • Proposals pass through various stages before they make it to the spec document.
  • Different browsers or platforms might implement the new features in different points of time so something like “Can I use” is handy in finding out which features are supported by which versions of the browser.

How do I get started with Javascript?

This video explains all that you need to get started with JS. The tools required are linked below.


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