Jan 10, 2019

How to Use JavaScript

If you're old enough, you may remember a time when websites were pretty basic. Sites didn't have many interactive features or advanced graphics. Over time, the web has evolved to support a much wider range of visual possibility, and that's largely thanks to a coding language called JavaScript. This overview will help you understand the basics of when and how to code in JavaScript.

The Basics: A JavaScript Guide for Beginners

JavaScript is an essential language for the modern web, but it isn't actually required to make a basic website. The hierarchy of web development languages is as follows: HTML, CSS, JavaScript. HTML is the basic building block of a webpage, and CSS is the language that helps to organize and style those basic building blocks in an attractive way. You can create clickable links, insert graphics, and generally build out the architecture of a serviceable informational page with HTML and CSS. But with JavaScript, you can take things to the next level, making your design much more dynamic and interactive for the user.

Let's say, for example, that you wanted to create a webpage with an interactive game component to engage users. Regardless of the details of the game, whether it's building constellations against a blank night sky or sending fluffy cartoon sheep over a fence, you'd likely need to use JavaScript to do it. JavaScript is a scripting language, so you insert what's known as scripts into your code. You can write these scripts yourself, or you can use a JavaScript library to find pre-written scripts that would work for your purposes. You can modify what you find in a library to suit your needs and use it together with HTML and CSS to create something unique.

JavaScript libraries like React can be complex and constitute a skill unto themselves. There are simpler frameworks available for beginners as well, so don't let that intimidate you. JavaScript is a powerful, complex language, but that means it's quite important for front-end developers and can really take your web design efforts to the next level. Things like geolocation, which is allowing the site to discern the user's location to provide better service, are done in JavaScript. So it's a really important tool for creating high-functioning professional websites.

Learn How to Code in JavaScript

If you really want to get into the details of JavaScript web development, consider a Udacity nanodegree program that includes JavaScript tutorials. It's not impossible to learn on your own, but having a professional provide JavaScript tutorials can really make a big difference in both the time it takes to learn and the comfort with which you approach the topic. The best way to learn JavaScript, as with any coding language, is to actually use it and experiment with what it can do. Building projects with JavaScript in an environment where you can get feedback and ask questions about what you're doing wrong can be a great way to ensure you learn quickly without accidentally misinterpreting the often complex information associated with this scripting language.