Monday, 26 March 2012

Opinion - RIP: Managed Code

Over the last 12 months there has been a steady rise in the use of JavaScript outside the browser. Does this mean that the use of managed code could be coming to an end?

If you're writing a Windows application, you will most likely use C++, C# or Visual Basic; if you want to write an iOS or Mac application then you would write it in objective C. Writing a web application can be written in a host of different languages; C#, VB, Python, RubyOnRails and PHP to name but a few. If you want to be an expert in all of these areas then you need to know a wide range of different languages and technologies, and to be honest it's not realistic to be an expert in all the areas and that's why people focus on just one or two.

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

But what if you do want to be an expert in all these areas - is it ever going to be possible? Well there is hope, and it's from the unlikeliest of candidates - JavaScript.

Looking back a few years, JavaScript wasn't a much loved language, people used it for small scripts on web pages, but with the rise of Ajax and helper libraries such as jQuery people started to take note at the merits of the language. Along with improvements in JavaScript engines such as Google Chrome's V8 engine, the prospects of where and how JavaScript can be used began to show.

With these improvements, JavaScript can be used all over the place rather than just in the client browser. It can be used on the server with Node.js. You can develop phone applications for the iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry using PhoneGap. With the new smartphone OS by Mozilla, Boot to Gecko, all applications are created in HTML5 and JavaScript. You can even write applications in Windows 8 with JavaScript using the new WinRT js libraries (and it is rumoured that Windows Phone 8 with use the same programming model).

I think the easier question to ask is: What can't JavaScript do? The answer is not much.

JavaScript Ninja

So as we can see JavaScript is everywhere. If you know JavaScript, and I mean inside out (not just the basics), then you should be able to create any application or software you want through JavaScript. At the moment it's not easy to change careers if you're experienced in only one area; if for example you're a VB developer and you want to create iOS apps then you need to learn Objective C. Some employers won't take the risk of employing someone not familiar with the technologies they use even though the potential employee has many years of programming experience. Also a change in areas is often not feasible due to the drop in wages that may occur. If you take the time to learn JavaScript your opportunities as a cross-platform developer increase greatly.

Conclusion

I believe that JavaScript is the next 'big' thing; just looking at where it is today and where it's going to be tomorrow clearly shows its potential. Some big backers in JavaScript such as Google and Microsoft means it's not going to go anywhere anytime soon, and if you do invest the time in learning JavaScript then it will not be time wasted.

2012 is going to be the year JavaScript really takes off.

If you do want to learn more about JavaScript then I recommend JavaScript: The Good Parts.

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