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Dimitris Tsironis

Writing about world and technical stuff

Enjoyable Javascript

The first handshake

When I started learning the building elements of the Web, I had the impression that Javascript is that hefty, untamable beast that nobody really understands, a language so wicked that noone really wants to write it anyway, although it’s inevitable.

Let’s get this out of the way. Javascript is not an inherently bad language. Its notoriety originates mainly on some crappy browser and DOM APIs, bad implementations of specs and the general ambiguity that reigns in the Browser Vendors Land. Yes, it is a stil very immature language but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful enough.

Getting more intimate

For people that aren’t very familiar with it, writing Javascript is just a matter of registering some jQuery events which control animations. Writing webapps in Javascript puts you in a completely different state in which you need to write modular, maintanable and testable code. You have to organize your code efficiently in order to avoid having a “spaghetti code” codebase.

When I joined BugSense, I immediately started to put all of the above principles in practice. Backbone.js isn’t opinionated enough to force me to structure or code in some particular pattern, so I was starting anew. Coming from a more opinionated background, in which I had a basic code structure already layed out, I was kinda freaked out.

It turns out that taking key decisions about my project on my own is one of the best things that I learned while writing Javascript.

Javascript is flexible

One of the wow moments I had with Javascript, was the ability to easily do evaluations, one-liners (almost LISPy things) without having to bleed through my ears. Events, closures, functional js, being able to do this…

X ? doSomething() : doSomethingElse()

…made me fall in love with it after a while.

Building a decent workflow

I think this point is true for every language. You should try moving things out of your way, optimizing your everyday work, organizing your project’s structure as well as possible and having repetitive tasks done automatically. It should be just you and the language, nothing more. Especially for Javascript you should try having multiple files and concatenating or minifying them with Grunt.

Getting serious

If you’re in a state that you want to take it to the next level, then I think you should try strict mode. Just put use 'strict'; at the top of your js files. This have will help you write more consistent code across implementations and other things.

Most importantly, don’t hate Javascript, but instead you can try to get the most out of it. All languages and tools have their limitations after all.

The question is could you rise to the occassion?

Join the discussion on Hacker News!