Overview (Background)

JavaScript language and functionality overview.


ECMAScript edition - 2

JavaScript originally started as a Netscape extension to provide some script-driven dynamic effects within the web page. At this time, Netscape had by far the greater penetration and was much more popular than the MSIE browser.

MSIE rapidly caught up with the scripting functionality and extended it in different directions. In the typically competitive style of the Microsoft company, JScript rapidly became the equal of the Netscape 4.0 browser. However, now it's the turn of Netscape to up the stakes again with the introduction of Netscape 6.0, although Microsoft has a new version of MSIE at the stage of beta testing.

In the two years Netscape has taken in releasing new browser, JavaScript has become standardized through the ECMA organization and has been deployed in a variety of non-browser contexts. It is now part of the fundamental scripting interface in Windows where its duty with the VBScript interpreter lies in automating desktop operations.

JavaScript is now available on Unix platforms as a shell scripting language and in web servers for server-side programming.

More recently, it has been adopted and modified to become WMLScript which is used in WAP-enabled mobile devices. Even more recently it is becoming popular in Digital TV set-top box systems as part of the rapid merger of broadcast TV and web content. This is likely to be where JavaScript becomes a fairly dominant tool for developing interactive TV content.

The language continues to evolve and penetrate new markets and systems. The core language has been standardized and several bindings are also reasonably stable through the efforts of the W3C, but there is still much to be done to ensure the language operates consistently across browsers. Now that Netscape and MSIE are implementing the standards-based features in similar ways for the most part, the differences between the two browsers are being squeezed into more esoteric areas such as sidebars and visual transition filters. Events still have some way to go, and it will be a while before DOM-style control is completely supported. There are also several new DOM components in level 2 and extensions in level 3.

See the web-references for the article by Brendan Eich on "The Birth of JavaScript".

See also:DOM, ECMA, ECMAScript, JavaScript language


ECMA 262 edition 2 - section - 4

ECMA 262 edition 3 - section - 4