JavaScript conquers the server

Node.js, Jaxer, EJScript, RingoJS, and AppengineJS combine the familiarity of JavaScript, low overhead, blazing speed, and unique twists

By Peter Wayner, InfoWorld |  Software, java, JavaScript

In 1996 when no one believed in Apple and AOL was voted most likely to succeed, Netscape took its shiny, new JavaScript language from the browser and stuck it in the Netscape Enterprise HTTP server. That was probably the first moment that someone tried to make JavaScript the lingua franca for back-office servers, but it wasn't the last. After Netscape dissolved into Mozilla, new stacks with JavaScript have come and gone as the true believers try again and again.

Now some 15 years later, JavaScript on the server is back in vogue. The buzz from the latest round of believers is that JavaScript is the "new Ruby," for all of the same reasons that Netscape began the trend. Using the same code for the client and the server makes life easier for everyone -- you never know when you'll need to move a routine from one to the other. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to make sure that the Java version of the SHA256 hash algorithm running on the server produced the same output as the JavaScript version running on the client.

[ Also on InfoWorld: 13 open source development projects making waves in the enterprlse. See "Open source programming tools on the rise." | Keep up on key application development insights with the Fatal Exception blog and Developer World newsletter. ]

But some things are different this time. Many of the earlier efforts were built around perfectly nice JavaScript engines like Rhino that offered perfectly acceptable performance. Now we have a number of new JavaScript engines such as Google's V8, which is much faster and uses many of the just-in-time compilation ideas that sustained Java's virtual machines over the years. Suddenly JavaScript is speedy enough that people think of using it for its velocity, not its convenience. It's entirely possible that all of the hard work on the browser engines is making JavaScript the fastest dynamic language and one of the best choices for server-side programming.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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