What you can do with JavaScript

It seems there’s an ongoing explosion of things that JavaScript can be made to do. Here’s a quick, non-evaluative round-up to prompt people to think of what pieces might be put together.

When you first encountered JavaScript, it was probably in the context of manipulating web forms and adding content to pages with the document.write function.

As browsers have standardised, it has become possible to dynamically style HTML, including making chunks of page appear and disappear. It gets more modern and interesting after the break.

Combining parsing and styling, you get syntax highlighting, either the basic Prettify hosted by Google or the Dream Productions Syntax Highlighter. You can cut out CSS altogether and style your HTML with JSS

Taking input from the user, processing it and styling it, you get the (X)HTML editors we now regularly use (FCKEditor, Kupu or TinyMCE, for example) or even a complete wiki (TiddlyWiki).

Then of course there’s the AJAX furore, based on the fact that JavaScript can issue HTTP requests and parse the returned files.

We’ve already discussed using JavaScript to draw and animate lines, shapes, gradients and images on the screen. As well as basing this on Canvas (and the Excanvas library, again thanks Google), you can do this with SVG.

Via the AFLAX library you can play, pause and rewind Flash videos (so long as users have the Flash 8 plug-in).
On to the wackier applications… JavaScript shell for those of you who like command-line interfaces. It seems wacky to me, but it has found applications e.g. dedicated interface for semantic image cataloguing.

It’s possible to implement (a subset of) SQL queries on local data, thanks to the TrimQuery library, or on a larger, more permanent local offline data store thanks to Google Gears.

If you’re Jan Grant you can create an interpreter for the logic programming language Prolog, and with clever code minimisation you can do it in five k. If you’re Jim Ley, you can parse RDF with JavaScript.

Feel like sitting down with popcorn and a date and watching a movie about JavaScript programming? No, of course you don’t, but if you get a chance, watch JSON inventor Douglas Crockford’s video lectures on Yahoo.

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2 Responses to “What you can do with JavaScript”

  1. The Ancient Geeks The Ongoing Software Crisis « Says:

    […] What you can do with JavaScript […]

  2. Where are all the YouTube educators? « The Ancient Geeks Says:

    […] the increasing interactivity of web sites, including the increasing power and standardisation of JavaScript in browsers, so that, for example, web pages could become active mathematical models. Academics […]


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