Javascript is the next Ruby

Ruby is so, like, web 2.0. More than two graduating classes have, er, graduated since Ruby became the next big thing. That makes it nearly your grandad’s social networking application programming language, in these ‘internet speed’ times we live in. This would be the same community that has just realised that network connections that survive beyond a single request are actually quite useful. But that’s my XMPP / HTTP rant, not this one.

I’ve been of the opinion that Javascript is a much underrated and very powerful language that was only missing a key ingredient to become a ‘real’ language and escape the browser.  The ingredient being the backing of a big enough commercial entity. Popular programming languages generally have one of two things: either a charismatic and beneficent despot or a powerful company behind them.  Examples? Naturally.

  • Perl: Larry Wall
  • Python: Guido van Rossum
  • Ruby: Yukihiro Matsumoto
  • Java: Sun
  • .Net: Microsoft

And now…

  • Javascript: Google

Google are (at the time of writing) on the cusp of releasing their web browser, Chrome. While Chrome has many interesting and cool features, the most interesting is that they’ve written their own Javascript virtual machine, called V8. And the people they’ve got writing it are not short of experience in the realm of VM’s. Lars Bak has worked on Self, Strongtalk and the Hotspot Java VM and was (last I heard) working on a Smalltalk VM for embedded devices called OOVM before the company got bought by Esmertec.

Javascript (strictly speaking ECMAscript 4th edition) also seems to pass Steve’s NBL test and now it has a VM with large commercial organisation backing it, which was the thing it most obviously needed, in my view, to get traction beyond the browser.

Final piece of evidence? This year JAOO has a Javascript track. It’s time.

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