It's even worse than it appears.
Wednesday June 24, 2020; 11:20 AM EDT
  • Glitch asks a very interesting question. #
  • If you could rename JavaScript what would you name it?#
  • Let's talk this through.#
  • First what is JavaScript. Let's make a list of things it is. #
    • It's a single syntax that works in the browser and on the server. A lot of the built-in routines work in both place.#
    • It's a vastly too-hard-to-learn language, but it's what we got. #
    • If you were going to design one language that everything should be translated to, it would never be JavaScript, but once again, it's what we got. #
    • Every toolkit shows up as a package in the server runtime for JavaScript. It's the default platform. If you want to write software that integrates lots of back end services, JS is your best choice. #
    • It was created by the immediate competitive need of Netscape's visionary, and a future venture capitalist, combined with the longevity of a standard syntax that has grown a lot especially in the last couple of years. #
  • In most of the answers to What Is It? you could summarize it by saying Worse Is Better. In every category, given a choice between elegance and simplicity, performance and ease of use, JavaScript picks the worst of the options. And since worse is better, that's good! That's why it wins. It doesn't worry about being better, does it work, if so, let's use it and go forward. #
  • Let's go back to the beginning when Marc Andreessen didn't (presumably) want Java to run away with the web. That's the position Java had, and they were pressuring Netscape to bundle it with the browser, and he didn't want to do it, but he had to have something to put in his place. Pretty sure that's why he asked Brendan Eich to write it, the legendary 10-day project. So what was that product? Maybe that should be the name? #
  • Even though they weren't thinking of server-side language that JS would become, really JS is the language of the web. That idea fits both the original vision and the current use. #
  • But that's not really a product name: Language Of The Web. LOTW. Nah doesn't really live well in the mind. #
  • I would have just called it Netscape. It's so central to everything the company was doing, you could have said -- this is the reason we created the company. The web is the UI, and that's important, but the real power is the network behind it, and that network is defined by the language, and this here is the language. It would have given Java a run for the money, probably would have pushed it closer to Microsoft (that's a whole other story) but long term, it would have worked. #
  • BTW all that's left of Netscape today is -- JavaScript.#
  • They didn't do it then, but you could do it now and it would be cool and fun, historic, respectful and something people would talk about. #

© 1994-2020 Dave Winer.

Last update: Wednesday June 24, 2020; 12:10 PM EDT.

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