Friday, December 23, 2011

Alternate Paths: JavaScript

In contrast to all the other computer languages I've discussed so far, JavaScript is a client-side language. It can run purely in a web browser, which makes initial tinkering pretty easy. Assuming some simple HTML chops, the student can show off some real programs pretty quickly. It can be done on any PC with a text editor and a web browser. JavaScript is a web standard. If you program long, you probably will want some JavaScript skills.

What's not to love? Well there is a pretty interesting discussion here at John Resig's blog. JavaScript is kind of a messy language, evolved over time to get things done in web pages. That makes it a little hard for me to endorse for beginners. As comments at John's page show though, people have learned JavaScript as their first programming language, and they endorse it.

JavaScript is also used at Codecademy to teach first-time programmers. There are many happy reports coming from Codecademy students as well.

So perhaps this is a good first-step approach for many. It doesn't start at the low levels I prefer, it kind of starts at the top of a web-programming stack, but if you like programming after a JavaScript exposure, you can branch back down.

Update: Alternate Paths: HTML5

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