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Doug Crockford On JavaScript

What does the future hold for programmers in a post-JavaScript world? Developer Douglas Crockford, who is most recognized for his work on JSON, feels that the web development standard needs a successor that can address a variety of programming issues.

Crockford named JavaScript the most popular programming language in the world when speaking at the recent Oracle Code conference in San Francisco. But what comes after JavaScript, he wondered? Crockford covered a laundry list of things he would want to see in a future language, slamming JavaScript and occasionally programming in general, and remarking that “it would be sad if JavaScript turns out to be the final language.”

Douglas Crockford is also known as The JavaScript Guy. He’s well-known not just for his O’Reilly book JavaScript: The Good Parts, but also as the creator of the JSON data format and the JSLint tool. He was highlighted in the book Coders at Work for his contributions and ideas on what JavaScript got right and what it didn’t.

Doug, a native of Southern California, has the physique of a surfer, being slender and tall with white hair and a beard. He worked at Atari Labs, created and worked at multiple software start-ups, was head of technology at Lucas Films, and now has the fortunate job of being a JavaScript evangelist at Yahoo!.

Crockford bemoaned system bloat and programming confusion, citing several examples.

He cited the continuing debate among developers about whether to use tabs or spaces as an example. “Get a bunch of programmers together and ask them, tabs or spaces, and they’ll have strongly held beliefs with no facts to back them up,” he bemoaned. “As a result, we spend a lot of time bickering and having trouble cooperating.” As an alternative, he suggested getting rid of tabs.

The following is a discussion that occurred in Bozeman, Montana, before speaking at Montana State University. Doug openly discussed outstanding programmers, user empathy, and how JSON restored his trust in humanity.

DO YOU BELIEVE EVERY PROFESSIONAL PROGRAMMER NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT COMPUTER SCIENCE BACKGROUND?

We all exist in the present and prepare for the future, but how can we know where we’re heading and what constitutes progress? To know where you’re going, you must first comprehend where you’ve been from. That necessitates an understanding of history.

We all live in the now and prepare for the future, but how can we know where we’re heading and what constitutes progress? To know where you’re going, you must first comprehend where you’ve been from. That necessitates an understanding of history.

Aside from the well-known phrase, ‘Those who do not understand history are bound to repeat it,’ For starters, it gives you something to stand on if you need to construct a system. What went well, what went wrong, common problems, and how they were resolved.

Also, while prior systems were underpowered, they had a lot of creativity and thought in them, and a fair amount of brilliance, and understanding that provides you more tools for a practical (and economical) approach.

Despite the rapid pace of technological progress, we see in the software tale that it takes a generation to retire or die off before we have a critical mass of brilliant young brains to adopt new ideas.

I believe that if individuals were more conscious of their past, they would be able to perceive these trends more easily.

WHAT WERE THE WEAK Developers’ Attributes?

That’s a simple one: a lack of interest. They were so certain that the job they were producing was good enough (without knowing what ‘good’ meant) that they did not drive themselves.
So many individuals specialize in one language and devote their entire career to it, and as a result, they aren’t very good programmers.

Scenarios in Which Team Programming Can Be Stressful For Programmer. How it is crucial to show coding in front of others?

Well, I’ve seen over the years that there are some great programmers out there who are perfectly pleased to sit in their basement all day producing excellent code. However, they don’t communicate much with their team, which implies they’re passing up an opportunity to mentor other members.

So, with code reading sessions, my goal is to give a venue for individuals to come together and read for each other to pull them out of their caves. As a team-building activity, the experts read for the novices and vice versa.

Well, I’ve seen over the years that there are some great programmers out there who are perfectly pleased to sit in their basement all day producing excellent code. However, they don’t communicate much with their team, which implies they’re passing up an opportunity to mentor other members.

As you may be aware, many coders are not the most socially competent creatures.

The key to success is to establish ground rules ahead of time so that no one gets humiliated and everyone provides constructive input. It needs to be a beneficial learning opportunity for all.

ARE PROGRAMMERS BECOMING Improved AT USER Empathy?

Working in marketing support provided me with the most opportunities to practice empathy. There were occasions when I would go out into the field and hold hands with the consumers, witnessing directly the ramifications of some of the garbage we were giving to them.

When I got into systems programming, I was astounded by how the programmers treated the customer with scorn.
Every programmer, in my opinion, should work in customer service for the product they are developing.

This is just another example of over-specialization. “I just create the code,” is the reaction, and programmers don’t see it as an opportunity to enhance people’s lives.

HOW DID JSON GET Incorporated?

You know, the acquisition of JSON sort of restored my confidence in humanity because it was a good concept that won out, just because it was a good idea. I began working on it in 2001 as a mechanism to connect browsers to the server.

Everyone felt XML had to be utilized at the time, or else they’d remark “that’s a fantastic concept, but JSON isn’t a standard.” So I acquired json.org, designed a logo, created a Web page, and it languished on the Internet for three years.

In the meanwhile, AJAX emerged, and when it became the standard method for developing apps, JSON was present. Of course, there was a backlash from the XML community.

However, when I came to Yahoo!, some of the company’s younger employees began to believe that it was OK to begin deploying JSON APIs via Web services. And developers discovered that the apps became quicker and easier to write.

It kind of took off from there—no flashy marketing. So, for once, a decent concept based on simplicity triumphed.

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Jayashee

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