JS / Ajax / JQuery


JavaScript (JS) is an interpreted computer programming language. It was originally implemented as part of web browsers so that client-side scripts could interact with the user, control the browser, communicate asynchronously, and alter the document content that was displayed. The most common use of JavaScript is to write functions that are embedded in or included from HTML pages and that interact with the Document Object Model (DOM) of the page.

Some simple examples of this usage are:

  • Loading new page content or submitting data to the server via AJAX without reloading the page (for example, a social network might allow the user to post status updates without leaving the page)
  • Animation of page elements, fading them in and out, resizing them, moving them, etc.
  • Interactive content, for example games, and playing audio and video Validating input values of a web form to make sure that they are acceptable before being submitted to the server.
  • Transmitting information about the user’s reading habits and browsing activities to various websites. Web pages frequently do this for web analytics, ad tracking, personalization or other purposes.

Because JavaScript code can run locally in a user’s browser (rather than on a remote server), the browser can respond to user actions quickly, making an application more responsive. Furthermore, JavaScript code can detect user actions which HTML alone cannot, such as individual keystrokes. Applications such as Gmail take advantage of this: much of the user-interface logic is written in JavaScript, and JavaScript dispatches requests for information (such as the content of an e-mail message) to the server. The wider trend of Ajax programming similarly exploits this strength.

A JavaScript engine (also known as JavaScript interpreter or JavaScript implementation) is an interpreter that interprets JavaScript source code and executes the script accordingly. The first JavaScript engine was created by Brendan Eich at Netscape Communications Corporation, for the Netscape Navigator web browser. The engine, code-named SpiderMonkey, is implemented in C. It has since been updated (in JavaScript 1.5) to conform to ECMA-262 Edition 3. The Rhino engine, created primarily by Norris Boyd (formerly of Netscape; now at Google) is a JavaScript implementation in Java. Rhino, like SpiderMonkey, is ECMA-262 Edition 3 compliant.

A web browser is by far the most common host environment for JavaScript. Web browsers typically create “host objects” to represent the Document Object Model (DOM) in JavaScript.

The web server is another common host environment. A JavaScript webserver would typically expose host objects representing HTTP request and response objects, which a JavaScript program could then interrogate and manipulate to dynamically generate web pages. Because JavaScript is the only language that the most popular browsers share support for, it has become a target language for many frameworks in other languages, even though JavaScript was never intended to be such a language. Despite the performance limitations inherent to its dynamic nature, the increasing speed of JavaScript engines has made the language a surprisingly feasible compilation target.

Ajax (also AJAX; an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a group of interrelated web development techniques used on the client-side to create asynchronous web applications. With Ajax, web applications can send data to, and retrieve data from, a server asynchronously (in the background) without interfering with the display and behavior of the existing page. Data can be retrieved using the XML Http Request object. Despite the name, the use of XML is not required (JSON is often used instead), and the requests do not need to be asynchronous. Ajax is not a single technology, but a group of technologies. HTML and CSS can be used in combination to mark up and style information. The DOM is accessed with JavaScript to dynamically display, and to allow the user to interact with the information presented. JavaScript and the XMLHttpRequest object provide a method for exchanging data asynchronously between browser and server to avoid full page reloads.

jQuery is a multi-browser JavaScript library designed to simplify the client-side scripting of HTML. It was released in January 2006 at BarCamp NYC by John Resig. It is currently developed by a team of developers led by Dave Methvin. Used by over 55% of the 10,000 most visited websites, jQuery is the most popular JavaScript library in use today. jQuery is free, open source software, licensed under the MIT License. jQuery’s syntax is designed to make it easier to navigate a document, select DOM elements, create animations, handle events, and develop Ajax applications. jQuery also provides capabilities for developers to create plug-ins on top of the JavaScript library. This enables developers to create abstractions for low-level interaction and animation, advanced effects and high-level, theme-able widgets. The modular approach to the jQuery library allows the creation of powerful dynamic web pages and web applications.

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