From Basic to Javascript

10 PRINT “HELLO BILLY”
20 GOTO 10

This amazing piece of code is the first program that I wrote on my Commodore Vic20. I wasn’t impressed yet, I carried on, I wrote many more programs that varied in complexity. Much of them were copied and modified out of magazines, but entered by hand at least.

What impresses me about my 10 year old programmer self was the accessibility to program simple games. Today there are many accessible programming languages for children and adults. As long as you know how to find them you can create fun little programs. Unfortunately they are not real programs that will stand the test of time.

When I graduated to DOS, I found Basic was different but still quite capable. Then Windows had VBScript that continues to exist today. Microsoft had done a good job at making sure all Microsoft Software understands Visual Basic, and I had built some great solutions with that software. However, the internet happened, and Microsoft was absent. Microsoft came out with .Net as a solution, but by then it was too late, I was lost to the open source movement, and the Linux platform.

I still use Windows occasionally, my family uses it aside from mobile devices. Which is really the crux of the problem. When I was 10 I had one device, a Vic20 that runs Basic. When the Commodore 64 came out I could transfer that knowledge easily. But with so many devices today, what programming language exists that crosses all of those boundaries.

There are many great programming languages to choose from today. Java, and Python seem to lead the charge, the days of having to learn C or C++ are fading into the background. One language does cross almost all of the boundaries though, Javascript.

Yes I know Javascript is not a real programming language, and its potential for abuse is being exercised thoroughly. Advertisments, malicious intent, and bad programming exists in all areas of the internet. Javascript is somewhat limited and slow as well. There is so much bad press about javascript one is tempted to ignore it all together.

What Javascript does bring to the table is an accessible language that can handle a large and growing variety of tasks. From animations on a website, to enterprise platform like Google Apps, or nCurses based CLI program in a Linux shell. As well it either exists by default or is easily available on all platforms.

What doesn’t exist for Javascript is an easy to access IDE. Modern Web Browsers Chrome and Firefox have development tools to use for testing and debugging. The Atom editor is a handy editor tool that I’m currently getting to know. (The Atom Editor is programmed with Javascript). So now that the ring is closing, I see Javascript as being the language to be competent in for the next generation. I will share practical examples of coding Javascript programs to demonstrate it’s utility.

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