Admitting that Javascript was a Mistake

The real mistake that we, as a web community, have made by adopting Javascript is applying a functional solution to a procedural problem. That is, controlling a moderately complex GUI, events and all, with a functional programming language is not something that is easy to implement correctly, nor is it easy to debug, teach or learn.

To strain an analogy, the reason that automatic transmissions are more popular than manual transmissions doesn’t have anything to do with performance. Manual transmissions are more compact, more efficient at transferring power, more durable, and are fantastic in the hands of an expert. They were, however, the wrong choice when it comes to putting more people on the road. The automatic transmission was simply easier to understand and use.

The same is true for Javascript – if we’re going to help create better applications for the web, without relying on Adobe Flash and Flex, we are going to have to empower web developers by fundamentally rethinking the Javascript mistake.

There is certainly room for Javascript to improve, especially with some of the upcoming HTML5 features. At the rate we’re going, it is going to take years for us to get to a place where HTML5+Javascript replaces Adobe Flash 10. Don’t let that depress you. Things are getting better, and they could be much worse — at least it wasn’t HTML+Lisp.


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