Is JavaScript a programming language? – The short answer

Yes, JavaScript is a widely usable, extremely popular programming language that can be classified as a scripting language. In this article, we are going to define programming languages and scripting languages, and we examine how they differ from each other. Then, we are going to discuss what JavaScript can be used for, why it is so popular, and why you should learn it.

 

Is JavaScript a programming language?

 

Programming languages vs scripting languages

Scripting languages are in a special category within programming languages.

Programming languages are languages created for communicating with computers, through which we give instructions to the computer to make them perform certain tasks. This is also true for scripting languages.

 

Programming languages Scripting languages
Input The code is read as a whole The code is read line by line
Output It generates an object code between the input and the output There is no intermediate step between input and output
Mechanism The compilation is done before the execution of the code (with a compiler) Interpretation and execution are done simultaneously (with an interpreter)
Speed Faster in comparison Slower
Memory Needs more memory because of the object code Requires a smaller amount of memory, because no object code is generated
Errors Errors are displayed after compilation, all at the same time Errors are displayed one by one, line by line
Error detection More difficult in comparison Easier
Examples C, C++, C#, Go, Java, Kotlin, Rust, Swift, Objective-C JavaScript, PHP, Perl, Ruby, Python

 

Programming languages

Programming languages are languages created for communicating with computers, through which we give instructions to the computer to make them perform certain tasks.

These languages cannot be interpreted by the computers directly, since the language of computers is a binary code that consists of 1s and 0s. We need to translate the programming languages that are closer to human languages into machine code. This is done by special translation tools called compilers.

Here are some popular programming languages: C, C++, C#, Java, Kotlin, Swift.

Scripting languages

We can define scripting languages in a way that might be hard to understand at first glance: “scripting languages are programming languages that are being translated with an interpreter during runtime, not with a compiler before running it.” You can read more about this in the paragraph titled “Compiler vs interpreter.” 

If we want to approach it in a practical way, scripting languages are programming languages, that are designed to make code easy to write and modify, and to make it more transparent. They are one step closer to human languages than other programming languages, making it easier to interpret code and thus learn the language.

They have more limited uses than programming languages, as there are tasks for which scripting languages are not suitable because they can only be used on certain platforms (although the range of these platforms is expanding) and they run much slower than other programming languages. The reason for this “slowness” is the method of interpretation these languages use. You can read more about this in the paragraph titled “Compiler vs interpreter.”

Here are some popular scripting languages: JavaScript, PHP, Perl, Ruby, Python.

 

 

Compiler vs interpreter

Compilers and interpreters both serve the same purpose: they make programs interpretable for the device they run on. The main difference is that compilers read and translate the whole program at once, while interpreters read programs line by line while also executing commands.

Advantages and disadvantages of compilers and interpreters

Translating with a compiler takes longer – but after the translation is done, the program can run very quickly. The running speed of programs is critical for video games, 3D animations, and machine vision (perception and interpretation of the environment via cameras), so these programs are written in languages that use compilers. Also, we can set the compiler up so the code can be transferred and can work on devices other than computers (e.g. smartphones, smart devices). 

Interpreters translate the code line by line: they read and execute commands at the same time. This means the process is slower than translation by compilers, but it has a great advantage: we can see the errors of the code during runtime: if the interpreter finds an error, the program stops running, and we can start debugging immediately.

If we use compilers, the errors appear only after the longer translation period, and after we fix the problem, we need to wait for a long time again before the compiler translates the program again.

 

JavaScript programming skills help you to land in a developer position

 

What is JavaScript and what is it good for?

JavaScript is a high-level programming language, a basic technology for creating and operating websites in addition to HTML and CSS. Today, it is responsible for the client-side operation of approximately 97% of the websites on the internet. Every browser we use today has a JavaScript scanning engine that runs JavaScript code on a user’s device.

The static structure of web pages is provided by HTML, the appearance is determined by CSS, and JavaScript is responsible for the interaction between the user and the page.

What kind of language is JavaScript? 

There are many ways to classify programming languages, based on multiple paradigms. These are rarely mutually exclusive. In everyday life, we can look at the same thing in many different ways. It is the same with programming languages—they can belong to more than a single paradigm at the same time. 

This means JavaScript supports event-driven, functional, and imperative programming styles, but we can use it to program in an object-oriented way as well.

If you are interested in the data types, variables, loops, and other basics of JavaScript, you can read more about it here: Basics of JavaScript programming – JavaScript programming for beginners. 

JavaScript frameworks and libraries

Both frameworks and libraries are designed to help us solve certain programming tasks faster and more efficiently, using pre-designed structures or pre-written code. 

In theory, the “framework” and “function library” categories can be easily distinguished: “If you write code into it, it is a framework, if you pull someone else’s code into your own, it is a library.” (source) In practice, their use and nomenclature are less consistent.

 In 2021, the top 3 most popular JavaScript frameworks and libraries are React, Angular, and Vue. 

JavaScript, beyond client-side programming 

Originally, JavaScript was the language of the web, more specifically the language of client-side programming (front-end). Today, JavaScript can be used in many other areas as well.

The runtime environment called Node.js makes it possible to use JavaScript in server-side (back-end) programming.

JavaScript can now also be used in mobile and desktop app development and even artificial intelligence development. It also appears in the field of IoT (Internet of Things), meaning it is possible to program devices that can control each other and send data to each other with JavaScript—this also shows us how the area of use for this programming language has expanded.

It has come a long way since client-side web development, and the opportunities continue to expand, thanks to the advent of newer and newer frameworks.  

 

JavaScript programming language is also a script language

 

Why is JavaScript programming so popular? 

We have already mentioned that JavaScript has been the most popular programming language for years now, according to StackOverflow.

One of the reasons for this outstanding popularity is the versatile use described above, i.e., it can be used both in front-end and back-end development, and to create desktop apps, AI projects, mobile apps, and so on. This is why the principle “JavaScript everywhere” has emerged.

There is a huge programming community behind the language, which makes it much easier to learn and become a professional developer. The most renowned representatives of the IT industry also rely heavily on JavaScript—it is used by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Paypal, Netflix and countless other tech giants.

Is it worth it to learn JavaScript? 

JavaScript is an easy-to-learn, effective technology, so it is ideal for beginner programmers. You can experience a sense of success very quickly using this language—you can learn to create your first website in a few weeks, and you don’t need to learn years before you can get a job as a web developer.

As we have mentioned before, JavaScript is being used in almost all areas of the IT world, so with sound programming knowledge based on JavaScript, you can easily find a job.

If you are interested in learning programming but you haven’t decided on where you want to begin, you can use the following article: “Which programming language should I choose?”. You can find helpful tips to make your decision easier, and you can also see how popular the languages of web development (including HTML and CSS) actually are.

If you’d like to see more programming tutorials, check out our Youtube channel, where we have plenty of Python video tutorials in English.

In CodeBerry Programming School’s “Beginner’s Guide” series, we’ll be answering questions you may have regarding what programming language to choose, how much money you’ll be making, what you can do as a web programmer, and where to start.

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