A (Re-)Introduction to JavaScript

Simon Willison‘s tutorial on Javascript is very timely – a number of other Web 2.0 services have brought JavaScript, XMLHttpRequest and the DOM once more to the fore of web development. AJAX-based rich internet applications, such as Gmail, Google Maps and Flickr, have come to characterise current web development paradigms, with JavaScript overtaking Flash as the RIA toolkit of choice.

After a brief history of JavaScript and it current renaissance at the core of AJAX development, Willison proceeded to review the core features of the the language – types, data structures, object design, functions, exceptions sequencing & control – describing best practices learned from over a decade of real-world usage.

The session is a good review of a powerful language and reminds me how simple JavaScript development can be, However, some hands-on examples, case studies, how-tos and deconstructions of contemporary RIAs would be very welcome…I want to Flickr my work!

Willison did name check a few interesting resources and frameworks for Javascript development – MochiKit, Prototype, Yahoo UI Library, script.aculo.us and DojoToolkit. One of the more interesting tools was a JavaScript shell which allows live scripts to be run within the context of the currently loaded browser page.


  • Phil Windley has a very comprehensive set of notes from this session.
  • One of the books recommended by Willison is available in an abridged edition (four chapters as a PDF) from SitePoint.
  • In the course of this tutorial, I came across inetWord, an AJAX-based word processor.

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