Every front-end developer needs to know JavaScript now

October 6th, 2010

When I was in school all I took away from the JavaScript class was how to make pop-ups, find the date and swap out images. JavaScript had a bad rap and the teachers attitude towards it was that you needed to know a bit, but it wasn’t a big deal. If you wanted to be web designer/developer, then the basic knowledge you needed was HTML and CSS. But now clients are seeing what you can do and I think that JavaScript, or at least basic understanding of a library like jQuery needs to be a part of any web designer’s skill set.

Clients are starting to see a lot of JavaScript functionality on other sites and are expecting every web designer and front-end developer to be able to recreate that for them. It’s going to get harder and harder to get by with just HTML and CSS knowledge. Even Flash or Silverlight might not cut it as some of the Flash bashing has begun to reach clients ears. I’m a guy that enjoys working with Flash and I’ve talked clients out of using Flash for something that can just as easily be made with a jQuery plug-in.

And that’s the beauty of JavaScript becoming part of the basic building blocks of a website, almost anything you need has been already built and 99% of the time it’s there for you to use. Even if you don’t understand how to program in JavaScript, a bit of effort will enable you to use jQuery plug-ins and a little bit more will help you learn to write your own. And if you’re anything like me, all the jQuery work will lead you into writing things with pure JavaScript.

Really, this is all just falling under the “HTML5” branding that companies like Apple are throwing around. If you’ve ever checked out their HTML5 showcase, there’s only two actual HTML5 demos, the rest are all CSS and JavaScript. But the trend now is, HTML for structure, CSS for style and positioning, and JavaScript for functionality. You won’t need JavaScript for every site but it will make life a lot easier.

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