ckportfolio.com - Beyond JavaScript and jQuery

Beyond JavaScript and jQuery

Where Do We Go From Here?

Fraught with countless framework solutions, the JavaScript domain remains frustrating for newcomers and seasoned developers alike. Fuelled by overzealous yet less-than-consistent development efforts, many JavaScript frameworks quickly decline in popularity upon inception, and projects involving such frameworks feel increasingly abstract and unproductive for novices.

One thing, however, is clear: all is futile, if the programmer is unfamiliar with fundamental concepts and languages. In order to transcend this constant influx of frameworks, one must recognize that all tools, frameworks, and even languages can become obsolete, but that ideas always prevail.

Driven by the recent surge of JavaScript's popularity, today's code schools often feature HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as foundational components, accompanied by some of the less-popular-yet-promising technologies:

  • NodeJS: JavaScript-based backend framework
  • MongoDB: Document-oriented database system
  • Ruby on Rails: Server-side web application framework, based on a relatively new language called Ruby

As "bleeding-edge" as these technologies may be as claimed by new developers, it is also implortant to recognize that they are still immature and hold little market share in the industry. NodeJS holds a meager share of 0.3%, behind Apache (50%), NGINX (32.6%), and Microsoft IIS (11.5%), While Ruby on Rails holds 0.6% behind PHP (82.5%), ASP.NET (15.3%), Java (2.7%). While MongoDB made its mark in the database world with an innovative approach to organizing information, it lags behind other industry favourites including Oracle, MySQL, and Microsoft SQL.

It is also important to recognize that these tools can be incredibly empowering when used correctly, and that one must rise beyond these tool-specific debates. In short, today's web development domain is a constant struggle between market demands and entrepreneurial innovation.

"Holy Trinity"

Sometimes dubbed the "holy trinity" of modern web development, the following is the list of technologies that fuel the majority of today's web-based projects:

  • HTML/CSS
  • JavaScript
  • PHP and MySQL

As mass-market paperback books evolved into the Kindle-fueled ebook market augmented with iPad's multimedia experience, there are many other technologies beyond HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that address challenges that they alone cannot handle. These technologies are all indispensable in today's modern web projects.

PHP and MySQL

Available as part of the popular LAMP stack, PHP and MySQL are responsible for processing user input and requests, running complex calculations, and saving and retrieving user data. MySQL is a spreadsheet-like database system that handles a large amount of data, and PHP bridges the gap between MySQL and HTML so that otherwise "boring-looking data" can be displayed as per the developer's layout.

Responsible for back-end needs in web technologies, it is also important to note that PHP and MySQL are not standard technologies certified by the W3C, but remain most popular in the market of web technologies.

Front-End Limitation

PHP and MySQL finally complete the web development cycle, as they offer crucial functions that are simply not possible when using front-end technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript:

Multiple pages that share same elements

While this can be solved using the AJAX technique, PHP handles this much more rigorously to the development's convenience.

Overwhelming number of HTML pages

Without the use of PHP and MySQL, each website will need to dedicate its editorial content to a large number of HTML pages. This organizational challenge can be solved by loading the database with content, and using a single PHP template file to display different parts of the database with ease.

Search function

The MySQL infrastructure provides a powerful query mechanism, allowing the developer to implement a search function across a massive amount of editorial content. This simply would not be tenable via JavaScript, as it will have to traverse individual HTML files via AJAX.

PHP vs JavaScript

PHP is a server-side language, where all of its processing is handled by the server computer that hosts the website. It is also notable that PHP code snippets can mix directly with HTML, which may contribute to the potential spaghetti code in the hands of an inexperience programmer.

In any case, PHP serves as a direct antithesis to JavaScript --- a client-side language whose performance is dependent on the user's browser, and its code separate from HTML. However, it is also important to note that PHP and JavaScript share many similarities as programming languages, with some of their syntaxes being identical. PHP remains a relatively easy programming language to learn, especially if one is familiar with JavaScript, and its massive popularity makes the language much more appealing.

WordPress

Releated in 2003, WordPress is mainly known as a popular blogging platform to the masses. Armed with strong user base and focus on pragmatism, however, WordPress is also known as the leader in the CMS (content management system), fueling almost 60% of CMS-driven websites, ranging from personal websites to complex web applications.

It is notable that WordPress is built with technologies that are considered industry standards, and the PHP-MySQL combo continues to serve as the backend core. Bringing small yet consistent updates to the platform, WordPress also serves as a microcosm of today's web application trends.

Fin