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JavaScript (a.k.a. JS) is a programming language developed by Brendan Eich at Netscape in 1995. It was the first programming language that browsers could execute. Together with HTML and CSS, it became the backbone of web development. Today you can compile code written in C, Rust, Go, and many other languages to WebAssembly and run it in a browser, but JavaScript remains the only language that browsers support directly. Because of this multi-decade web dominance, JavaScript tops the world's most popular programming languages lists.

During browser wars, there were multiple versions of JavaScript including then popular JScript adopted by Microsoft. In November 1996 Netscape submitted JavaScript to the Ecma International organization to write a standard specification for the language. This standardized JavaScript was called ECMAScript. New ECMAScript versions continue to be released on a yearly basis, the latest version being ECMAScript 2022 also known as ES13.

JavaScript is known for its quirks, and few JavaScript developers haven't experienced JavaScript Fatigue. But the language improved a lot since the early days. It is the language to learn if you're going to do web development. The Node.js runtime also makes it a decent choice for server-side programming.

Links: JavaScript (Wikipedia), ECMAScript (Wikipedia), ECMAScript Language Specification, State of JS 2022.

Related topics: Web development.

Here's 5 amazing resources to learn JavaScript:

  1. ECMAScript Language Specification (tc39.es)
    free • resource • 2023

    This is the authoritative JavaScript standard. It's not an easy read, and you won't learn JavaScript by reading it – the primary audience of the document is language implementers. Nevertheless, it's the place to go to learn about JavaScript intricacies and corner case behavior. Check out How to Read the ECMAScript Specification for a gentle introduction to the standard.

  2. JavaScript on MDN Web Docs (developer.mozilla.org)
    free • resource • 2023

    MDN Web Docs is the best JavaScript documentation. MDN Learning Area will introduce you to JavaScript, Web APIs, frontend tools and frameworks, and server-side programming. Language Overview provides a quick reminder of the core JavaScript features. There is also a much more detailed JavaScript Guide. Finally, for exhaustive information about language features, see JavaScript reference.

  3. Eloquent JavaScript, 3rd edition (eloquentjavascript.net)
    free • book • by Marijn Haverbeke • 2018

    This book is an introduction to programming using JavaScript. It teaches the basics of the language, browser APIs, and Node.js. Go for this book if you haven't done much JavaScript programming before and want to get a solid, hands-on experience with the language.

  4. JavaScript for impatient programmers (ES1–ES2022) (exploringjs.com)
    free • book • by Axel Rauschmayer • 2022

    Though not suggested by the name, this is a comprehensive book on modern JavaScript that covers all essential features of the language up to and including ES2022. It's a good book for experienced programmers new to JavaScript and those who want to catch up with the latest JavaScript versions. The author Dr. Axel Rauschmayer has an entire series of books on JavaScript. Deep JavaScript is an advanced book that teaches practical techniques for using the language better and explains how JavaScript works under the hood.

  5. Full Stack Open (fullstackopen.com)
    free • course • by the University of Helsinki • 2023

    This is a course on modern web development with JavaScript. You'll learn how to develop, test, and deploy single-page applications using React, Redux, React Native, Node.js, MongoDB, GraphQL, and TypeScript. This is an ideal resource for aspiring full stack developers and experienced programers that want to (or have to) get familiar with the JS ecosystem.