Thoughts on JS

I went on a jog a while ago and started thinking about how important JavaScript is becoming; obviously due to Ajax. I would usually only use it to enhance functionality but now JS is the functionality. Prior to 2005, JS seemed to only provide useless annoying tricks hacked out by a goofy web designer. Not anymore. Your layout, tables, in-browser-pop-ups can all be handled in this mysterious language.

Mysterious because it's so difficult to troubleshoot and well... you'll see once you learn about it's ins-and-outs.

I am extremely impressed with the JS frameworks out there. My current favorites are YUI (Yahoo) and MooTools mainly based on their to their licensing model. But I have to mention EXT-JS, the prettiest of them all. With EXT-JS you can seriously make desktop-like apps... Boy how far have we come.

If you're frightened by JavaScript and Ajax, I recommend the following books. First read Bulletproof Ajax (New Riders) for an easy high-level overview of Ajax. You'll feel so much more confident about this spooky language as the author simplifies everything you need to know. Then read JavaScript: The Good Parts (O'Reilly) to get a good feeling why JavaScript is sooo damn funky. I'll talk about those issues some other time. Finally, you may need a decent reference book... I like Ajax: The Complete Reference (McGraw).

But what's more important to know as a developer: JavaScript or ActionScript? Could JS ever compete w/ the offerings from Adobe? If I needed interactive charts or media, Flash is pretty much the only viable solution out there.

Has anyone ever made an interactive chart w/ JS and Ajax? Where it's data elements can be altered. That would probably be the next killer-app. To my knowledge, it doesn't exist yet. Heck, even Google and Yahoo use Flash-based charts for their finance solutions.