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JavaScript Demos

JavaScript demos

The addition of JavaScript to the first viable web browser (Netscape) was near to an afterthought, the language was designed, written, implemented, debugged and shipped all within a three week framework. Smalltalk, for example, took a decade to do this. How right could JavaScript be? Certainly upon my first inspection it looked like a toy version of C. Which was handy. If you wanted to tweak stuff on a webpage you got to tell it in C which was familiar. Great.

So I tried a few things, and they worked and they were pretty neat, until I tried one that crashed the browser, just locked it up solid. So I stopped using it and figured I'd let other poeple deal with this until it worked properly. This was sometime last century.

But this didn't stop other people from using it, and then Microsoft cloned it, and in one of the most faithful jobs of reverse engineering ever, replicated all the bugs as well. Combined with the sudden rapid deployment of Explorer, the nise of .asp, .jsp and .NET and suddenly the net was 1) full of javascript, but 2) none of it worked.

Ubiquity of a broken feature is, um, "sub-optimal". When one discussion site I frequented at the time (and I'm not mentioning any names but their initials are timezone.com) has as it's sole navigation system a piece of JavaScript that blew up Netscape 100% of the time.

This it was I actually disabled JavaScript in my browser. Java too, just for good measure, although I'd never actually seen any Java anywhere. Some years later, around 2005 I think, I'd long since dropped Netscape of course and was using Opera and a browser upgrade for once didn't maintain my old settings and JavaScript was now on by default (it wasn't in previous years, even the authors didn't trust it) and I remember how shocked I was that having JavaScript on didn't crash my browser.

A lot happened in the next few years of JavaScript and as of the current writing, the good parts of the language now shine and they're so good it's become utterly compelling. In addition, JavaScript now runs on the server side and it's now so fast because of the shift in paradigm from synchronous to an asynchronous event model that the entire body of the art of computer programming needs to be reevaluated.

These demos then are the eye candy that sucked me in to look seriously at this stuff. Besides extracting massive performance gains from current hardware the programming model is such that it scales transparently across multiple machines. But these are just pretty, and the complexity of what they do belies that first examination of the language and assessment as a toy. Mea maxima culpa. So, here are the 10 demos that blew my mind, and I'll be keeping track of these through the years so we can see how much progress we've made, say, in a decade.


Demos organized by year.