Image of an idealised Great Wall of China, taken from the virtual environment Second Life

If a web site is considered to be a house, then HTML is the foundation and framing, while CSS is the interior design: the color choices, doors and windows. JavaScript, the focus of the next set of reading lists, is akin to the home’s devices and utilities: the dishwasher, doorbell chime, and home automation.

JavaScript can access, add, remove, and modify anything on a live web page, including content, markup, and attributes, without ever reloading the page. By doing so, it can add far more interactivity than is possible to achieve with CSS alone. More complex JavaScript allows the page to react to events, interact with other services, and create animations.

Goals: Understand the history and context of JavaScript and the purpose of frameworks; define progressive enhancement and graceful degradation; write simple JavaScript effectively on a web page; avoid common development errors.

Prerequisites: A strong knowledge of HTML and CSS

Total Time: 2 hours

Core Material

  1. Evolution of JavaScript
  2. JavaScript & the DOM
  3. Four Principles of Effective JavaScript
  4. Writing JavaScript
  5. Frameworks
  6. Six Common Mistakes

Recommended Reading

Read pages 1 – 23 & 43 – 52, JavaScript & JQuery. Read Chapter 19, Introduction to JavaScript, in Learning Web Design by Jennifer Niederst Robbins.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in using JQuery extensively, you should read up on using JQuery Content Distribution Networks to improve site speed, performance, and reliability.

When You’re Done

With a strong understanding of JavaScript fundamentals and a commitment to best practices, you’ll be ready to write your first meaningful JavaScript, which we approach in the next reading list.

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