Why Javascript bores me

14 January 2012 at 6:55 pm

Update: I feel that I should add to this post that working with node.js and socket.io has changed my mood when it comes to Javascript. I’m having lots of fun doing JS stuff these days, but this was my thoughts at the time 😊

Now this is going to sound cocky (sorry) but I need to get it off my chest - the thing I hate about the Flash vs HTML(5)/JS/CSS(3) debacle is that clients now expect you to be able to do everything you could in Flash using HTML. They also expect that everything will magically work well on mobile devices such as iPads and cheap Android phones. This is after all the very promise that Steve Jobs and other cool guys have sold them. The problem is - it’s not like that at all.

It’s really hard work to solve browser incompatibilities and code around lack of capabilities in mobile browsers. I don’t mind hard work but this really bores me - a lot. I hate patching something that really should have worked, but since somebody didn’t agree on how to solve it I’ll get to poke around half a day to look for an answer…? It’s much more fun to create stuff, isn’t it?

I don’t mind that Flash’s role is changing. It was inevitable and I too love to see cutting edge work done in HTML/JS/CSS like this brilliant site by Bret Victor or enfantsterrible by WeFail. I just don’t want to go 5 years back in time to the time before Flash Player 9 and Actionscript 3. I don’t mind Javascript at all, but it feels so totally inappropriate to try and build serious apps with it (like I do with Flash and Flex). I don’t want to work on projects where I constantly have to cut back on creativity just because something just isn’t possible (yet). Flash is a platform that does not limit what I can do, so to me this boils down to either having (what I think is) a boring job or finding something more enjoyable. Work takes up too much of my life for it to be boring…

AS3 is such a mature language and if you read up on the future of Javascript, you’ll find that JS5 will be the “patched but still untyped” version of JS. Future versions after that will become what ECMA 4 tried to be before Microsoft more or less killed the project. Flash’s programming language AS3 is what Javascript will become in the future. It probably won’t be exactly like, but it’ll be close. I think that I will look for other challenges while waiting for javascript to mature where working with it no longer bores me.

Others have taken a different route and gone with the flow to do with JS what they have already done with Flash and Flex. I have no need to do that. There’s so many other things to do than have a boring job. Today, João Saleiro posted a brilliant and thorough article that more or less sums up all of my frustrations with “the future” of web development. It’s lengthy, but it’s really worth it - especially if you come from the HTML/JS side. Most HTML5 “comment trolls” don’t know anything about Flash, Flex or AS3, so they have no clue what they are missing…

Sorry. HTML5/Javascript/CSS3 The hype really bore me and I’m already used to Living in the future. I won’t spend time on learning the fancy “flavor of the month” JS-library that may be dead a couple months from now. Instead, I currently enjoy learning about electronics and microcomputers while coding in C - a language that is older than me and still just as valid. And if I ever “have to” to build something big with Javascript, I’ll certainly use something like Haxe that can remove the pain and add some fun.

Further reading?

HTML5 in way more than 5 paragraphs

The Increasing Cost of Interactive Production

The World of Pain that is HTML5 Video

The open web needs you now

PS: I do a lot of HTML, JS, CSS and have done so ever since I started in this business 15 years ago. I also do PHP and EE CMS on a almost daily basis. I just don’t see the excitement in fighting against technology to make it do what have been done already. If being on the bleeding edge requires daily pain and fighting inadequacies/inconsistencies/incompatibilities, I’ll rather look for things more fun to do?