JavaScript is Not a Programming Language

Posted on | Last Updated on by Paul Kinchla Reading Time: 1 minute
Screen shot of a browser console showing a console log statement of evauluating and unknown variable named JavaScript
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I love JavaScript. I wrote JavaScript today that runs in a browser and I wrote JavaScript that runs on a server. It is really portable. It has a low barrier for entry comparatively . You can start with a web browser and a text editor. But, for users of the web—JavaScript is not a programming language. JavaScript is a feature.

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Here are key reasons as to why JavaScript is a feature:

  • Users can turn it on and off based on preference.
  • Support varies from browser to browser.

Based on these facts JavaScript is a feature of browsers as far as users are concerned. Similar to the ability for users to change the default font size or how to handle hyperlinks. Browsers also have varying support for all of JavaScript’s features while some browsers don’t have any support all.

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I can say all this from a position of great of privilege. There is lots of talk on twitter about what constitutes a programming language. The narrative that HTML and CSS are not programming languages causes harm. I am the first to admit that I used to think that it didn’t matter. But this affects folks salaries. It affects end users. In closing it’s hard for me to imagine a world where JavaScript would be the success it has been without HTML and CSS.

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