Top 5 JavaScript tools you shouldn’t be without

JavaScript has emerged in the past couple years as the de facto expression of next generation web technologies, and a critical component of HTML5 technologies – along with CSS and JQuery. JavaScript is really ubiquitous – it really is showing up everywhere! There are many other reasons why JavaScript and JS-based tools are becoming the wave of the future. JavaScript is the #1 most-used language on GitHub, and this trend is only going to increase. As one article put it, “JavaScript is the number one language in the world; it’s the language of the web, and a starting point for so many new developers . . .”

To better understand the dominance of JavaScript in the world of web and mobile development, we thought it’d be useful to outline some integral tools that are currently used to support and extend the JavaScript ecosystem. In what follows we describe the essential 5 JavaScript tools on the market today and the most important things you need to know about them.

 

1. Node.js

 

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JavaScript has received rapid adoption in recent years especially through the influence of Node.js, a software platform used for building fast, scalable network applications. Node.js is based on Google’s V8 JavaScript engine, or the Chrome browser runtime, and has gained immense popularity among major enterprises in recent years. Node.js provides an event-driven architecture and a non-blocking I/O API that optimizes an application’s throughput and scalability. One notable feature of Node.js is that it contains a built-in library to allow applications to act as a Web server without software such as Apache HTTP Server or IIS. You should expect more and more web development projects shifting towards a uniform web language with Node.js leading the way.

 

2. JSON

 

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JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) has become the major standard today for data interchange used on the modern web. NoSQL databases such as MongoDB use JSON documents in order to store records in the same way that relational databases like MySQL use tables and rows to store records. JSON can be used with any programming language but it’s primary usages is for transmitting data between a server and web application, as an alternative to XML. This makes JSON a natural fit for JavaScript developers to connect their applications, for instance, to non-relational databases such as NoSQL.

 

3. Ajax

 

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There’s a growing trend in web applications towards single page applications (SPAs). The goal here is to build web site that fits on a single web page to provide a more fluid user experience akin to a desktop application. Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is the predominant technique for implementing SPAs, using the XMLHttpRequest object from JavaScript, along with the popular jQuery libraries. Ajax is not a single platform or library but a group of interrelated client-side development techniques used to create asynchronous Web applications. Through the use of Ajax, developers can write web applications to send and retrieve data from a server asynchronously (in the background) and not interfere with the display and behavior of the existing page.

 

4. Angular.js

 

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Angular.js is an open-source web application framework built and maintained by Google with the goal in mind of simplifying application development. HTML is great for declaring static documents, but it’s not so great when it comes to building dynamic views in web-applications. This is where Angular.js really shines. Angular.js allows developers to extend HTML vocabulary for your application and build those dynamic views. The framework collects data from the server, then compiles the templates locally for presentation, and does this through a client-side MVC framework.

 

5. Backbone.js

 

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Backbone.js is a JavaScript library with a RESTful JSON interface and is based on the model–view–presenter (MVP) application design paradigm. The Backbone.js website aptly describes the value add of this framework as follows: “Backbone.js gives structure to web applications by providing models with key-value binding and custom events, collections with a rich API of enumerable functions, views with declarative event handling, and connects it all to your existing API over a RESTful JSON interface.” Backbone.js has gained an immense following in recent years and is notable as a robust, mature, and scalable platform for building web and mobile applications.

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