Software Engineering

Why every developer should learn some JavaScript

Ed Wright explores the rise of JavaScript and the reasons all software developers can and should learn at least the basics.

For many years, many developers have shied away from learning and using JavaScript. But how much longer can they get away with doing that?

In this article, we explore the rise of JavaScript and the reasons all software developers can and should learn at least the basics.

JavaScript’s popularity has gone through the roof, in part due to:

  • Yearly updates to the ECMAScript specification since 2015;
  • NodeJS's status as a credible server-side runtime.

Stackoverflow’s survey 2019 of over 90,000 developers shows that:

  • 69.7% of professionals listed JavaScript among their most used language;
  • NodeJS is the most popular framework outside of specific web development technologies. 50% reported it as their most used.

The move by many is towards full-stack JavaScript development. JavaScript UI tools such as React, Vue and Angular for the front end; NodeJS for the back end. All this means that developers can no longer hide away from it!

Modern development tools

Modules, bundlers and code compilation tools have contributed to JavaScript’s rise:

  • Modules (introduced in the ES2015 specification) allows code to be in discrete files. This helps modularity and maintenance. Modern browsers can already handle modules.
  • Tools like Webpack bundle and minify modules. This makes code download and run faster. Code is easier to deploy.
  • Code compilation and ‘transpilation’ means that code can run across platforms. Developers don't need to write many versions. Babel is the most common tool for this.
  • TypeScript, as a superset of JavaScript, can appease those tied to strongly-typed languages. That means easier migration for those who write Java, C# and the like.
  • Open-source text-editors, such as VS Code, support JavaScript development out of the box. Linting, snippets and debugging are all plug-ins offered to users.

JavaScript is here to stay... for now!

The argument for developers to learn at least some JavaScript is compelling, to say the least. Stackoverflow's 2019 developer survey results showed 2 interesting results:

  1. JavaScript was second in the list of 'Most Wanted' languages to learn.
  2. NodeJS was top of the list of 'Most Wanted' non-web specific frameworks, tools and libraries.

JavaScript is moving in the right direction. This is according to 84% of over 20,000 developers who took the 'State of JavaScript' survey in 2018.

Agile practices need T or even M shaped developers for cross-functional teams. Most developers have at least 1 area that they have considerable expertise in, some have more. All need to be able to contribute in other areas of development. It seems like a no-brainer that JavaScript should be one of the skills that every developer should have.

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