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Developer Javascript: Javascript Explained

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Javascript is a programming language that is used to create interactive web applications. It is considered one of the most versatile and powerful programming languages, and is used by millions of developers worldwide. In this article, we will take a beginner’s look at Javascript and discuss the basics of the language, as well as best practices for writing high-quality code.

What is Javascript?

Javascript is an interpreted scripting language that is used to create interactive web applications. It is a cross-platform language that can run on a variety of browsers and devices. It was first developed by Netscape Communications Corporation and first appeared in the Netscape Navigator 2.0 web browser in September 1995.

Javascript is a multi-paradigm language, supporting both object-oriented and procedural programming. It is an event-driven language and supports asynchronous requests, allowing it to run asynchronously in the user’s web browser. In addition, Javascript can handle interactive elements on a web page, such as pop-up dialogs, forms, media players, animation, and games. It also allows developers to interact with server-side systems via Ajax requests, making applications faster and more responsive.

JavaScript Basics

Javascript is characterized by three main features: syntax, objects, and functions. The syntax defines how data is written; objects are used to store and manipulate that data; and functions are used to create interactive elements and execute code.

The syntax of a programming language refers to the rules for writing code. In JavaScript, the syntax uses curly braces ({}) to define code blocks and semi-colons (;) after each line of code. JavaScript also uses whitespace to describe code structure, making it easier to read. Tokens are used to write in JavaScript; these tokens may consist of keywords, identifiers, strings, numbers, symbols, punctuation marks, and operators.

Syntax and Basic Constructs

JavaScript syntax contains functions, variables, objects, loops, control statements, and comments. Functions are used to perform specific tasks within a program; they are defined within curly braces ({}). Variables are used to store information within a program; they are defined using the keyword ‘var’. Objects are used to store and manipulate data; they consist of properties, methods, and functions. Loops are used to execute commands multiple times until a certain criteria is met; they are built using ‘for’ and ‘while’ statements. Control statements are used to make decisions within a program; they are built using ‘if’, ‘switch’, ‘do…while’, and ‘try…catch’ statements. Comments are used to document code; in JavaScript single line comments start with // and multi-line comments use /* */.

Variables and Data Types

Variables are used to store information within JavaScript programs. Variables must be declared before they can be used; this is done using the keyword ‘var’. Variables can have different data types such as strings (text), numbers (integers, floating point numbers), booleans (true or false), and objects (arrays and objects). JavaScript also supports type conversion; this allows variables to be converted from one type to another.

Data types are also important when working with operators. Operators are used to perform operations on variables; they include arithmetic operators (+, -, *), comparison operators (>, <, =), assignment operators (=), logical operators (&&, ||), and other operators.

Working with Operators

Operators in JavaScript are used to manipulate variables and execute logical operations. Arithmetic operators are used with numbers to perform basic arithmetic operations such as addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (*), division (/), modulus (%), and increments/decrements (++/–). Comparison operators are used to compare variables or values; they include equals (==), greater than (>), less than (<) and not equals (!=). Assignment operators are used to assign values or variables to other variables; they include assigning (=), adding (+=) or subtracting (-=) from existing values or variables.

Logical operators act like filters for conditions; they allow developers to combine multiple conditions into one logical expression (&&), combine multiple conditions into one logical statement (||), or check if a condition is true (!). Other operators include typeof (checks the type of a variable), delete (deletes an object or variable), and ternary (returns one value if a condition is true, another if false).

JavaScript Functions

Functions are useful components of JavaScript programs. They are like mini-programs written inside the main program that can execute some specific action when called upon. Functions allow code to be run multiple times without having to rewrite the same code multiple times. Functions start with the keyword ‘function’ followed by curly braces ({}) where the code will be written; functions also need a name.

Functions can have parameters which act like placeholders for data which needs to be passed into the function for it to execute correctly. Parameters pass information into the function when it executes; within the function parameters are identified by the name of the parameter followed by its value (paramName = value). Functions can also have return values which act as the output of a function; these values can be used outside the function after it has executed.

JavaScript Events and Event Listeners

Events allow code to be triggered in response to user input or other external factors. Events can be anything from a user clicking a button or scrolling down a page, to an Ajax request completing successfully or an image loading in the browser. Event listeners are functions that listen for events and run some code when an event is detected. Event listeners can be added for particular elements on a web page or for particular parts of an application or website.

Event listeners are attached to an element using the ‘addEventListener’ function. This function takes two parameters; the first parameter is the type of event to listen for (click, scroll, etc.). The second parameter is a reference to a function that will run if that event is detected. This function can take one or more parameters depending on the type of event being listened for.

Object-Oriented Programming with JavaScript

Object-oriented programming (OOP) is an approach to programming where data and methods that manipulate data are organized into groups called objects. In JavaScript there are two types of objects; primitive objects and user-defined objects. Primitive objects are pre-defined objects such as numbers, strings, and booleans that provide methods for manipulating the particular data-type stored in them. User-defined objects allow developers to group data and methods together in order to encapsulate data into meaningful bundles.

Objects contain properties which store data about the object and methods which define actions that can be taken on the object’s data; both properties and methods can contain parameters too. Objects also have prototypes which define default behaviour for all instances of the object type; these prototypes can be extended by creating new objects which inherit properties and methods from the prototype object.

Working with Arrays and Loops

Arrays are special objects used in JavaScript programs which are collections of data items that can be accessed using an index value. Arrays can store multiple different types of data items and can contain numeric or string values. Arrays can be looped over using loops; loops allow code blocks to be repeated multiple times until a certain criteria is met. The two main types of loops in JavaScript are for loops and while loops.

For loops are useful when you know how many times you need to loop over an array or other elements in a program. While loops can be used when you don’t know how many times you will need to loop over elements in a program. Both types of loops require an initialization statement which sets up the loop, a condition expression which will ensure looping stops at some point (i.e. when the array index has reached the end of the array) and an increment statement which will move on to the next item in the array or collection.

Manipulating the DOM with JavaScript

The document object model (DOM) is a programming interface for HTML documents which allows web developers to access elements inside a web page using JavaScript code. DOM manipulation allows developers to create interactions within web pages such as changing their contents in response to user input or other events without refreshing the page itself. The DOM consists of nodes which represent elements such as images, headings, paragraphs, etc.

DOM manipulation can be performed using functions such as querySelector/querySelectorAll which allow individual elements inside a web page to be selected using CSS selectors. DOM manipulation can also be done using methods such as getElementsByTagName/getElementsByClassName/getElementById which allow elements to be selected from HTML documents directly. Once selected DOM elements can have their content changed using innerHTML or have style attribute values changed using style properties within JavaScript code.

Debugging and Error Handling in JavaScript

Debugging is an important part of developing software in any language. Errors can occur in JavaScript applications due to incorrect syntax or unexpected results from user input. To spot errors quickly JavaScript provides developers with powerful debugging tools such as breakpoints which allow execution of code to be paused at select points in order to inspect values of variables while running code.

Error handling can be done using try…catch statements which allow sections of code to be executed within a try block and any errors caught within a catch block at the end of the try block so developers can take different actions depending on what type of error occurs. Error handling also requires developers to write code that is able to handle unexpected errors such as handling inputs from user input or validating user data before attempting manipulation or processing operations.

Best Practices for Writing High-Quality Code with JavaScript

Writing high-quality code involves applying common best practices such as writing well-structured code with good readability and maintaining consistent styling throughout programs. Debugging should be done regularly while writing code as well as at the end when entire applications are completed as this will help identify potential errors quickly and make wrestling with difficult errors much easier later on.

Testing code should also be done often as this will identify potential problems in both performance and accuracy before users begin using an application or website. Documentation should also be included with all applications as this allows others who may need to work with code in future to understand what is going on more quickly. Refactoring should also be done when necessary in order to ensure applications remain well-maintained as time passes.

Libraries and Frameworks for Developing with JavaScript

Libraries and frameworks provide developers with prebuilt components which make development faster and easier. Libraries provide extra functionality that can be easily added into applications such as user interface components or extra utility functions. Frameworks provide structures for quickly developing web applications; frameworks often provide built-in components such as routing support for URLs or server-side integration components.

Latest Trends in JavaScript Development

JavaScript has come a long way since first appearing back in 1995; many new features have been added over the years including support for ES6 syntax in 2015 which brings modern features into the language such as arrow functions and object destructuring. Mobile development frameworks such as ReactNative and Ionic have made development of cross-platform mobile apps easier than ever before. Developers have been moving away from version control systems like git onto distributed version control systems like mercurial due to its improved flexibility.

Anand Das

Anand Das

Anand is Co-founder and CTO of Bito. He leads technical strategy and engineering, and is our biggest user! Formerly, Anand was CTO of Eyeota, a data company acquired by Dun & Bradstreet. He is co-founder of PubMatic, where he led the building of an ad exchange system that handles over 1 Trillion bids per day.

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