From PHP to Perl: What's hot, what's not in scripting languages

By Peter Wayner, InfoWorld |  Software, Perl, PHP

This vector is also giving JavaScript an increasing role in smartphone programming. While many developers who need very responsive interfaces swear by native code, a number of people with simpler, less performance-dependent requirements are turning to JavaScript frameworks such as Sencha or jQuery Mobile. This code can be hosted on a Web server or be bundled into an application using the open source project PhoneGap.

All of this interest is immediately apparent in O'Reilly's book sales charts, with JavaScript accounting for 57% of scripting-language-related book sales, up from 42% in 2009. It was also one of the few computer languages to sell more books in 2010 than 2009, bucking the economic downturn.

But not everything is perfect. Programmers gossip that the JavaScript committee is frozen by an inability to change the established infrastructure. And the stakes have become so high that battles will inevitably hobble the effort to create the next edition of JavaScript -- ironically code-named "Harmony." Google is reportedly working in parallel on a new language called either Dash or Dart that will fix all of the problems with using JavaScript for big projects like Gmail. Yet for all of these flaws, it's more omnipresent than ever.

Not-hot scripting language: ActionScript

If sales of O'Reilly scripting language books are any indication, the rise of JavaScript has claimed one clear victim: ActionScript.

Created by Adobe to help juggle sprites in Flash and Flex, ActionScript rose to 31% of O'Reilly book sales among scripting languages in 2009. While language experts note that ActionScript is a superset of ECMAScript, the official name of JavaScript, the two dialects are not interchangeable. In 2009, everyone wanted to build sophisticated games and other slick presentations with the language.

That was then. Now, ActionScript accounts for 17% of the scripting language marketplace at O'Reilly Books, while plain old JavaScript is booming. What happened? In two buzzwords: HTML5 and iPhone.

The first, HTML5, relies on JavaScript to move things around on the page; because of this, programmers are getting better at using browser-based JavaScript to catch up with what Flash programmers used to do. Sprites and animations that were once the main advantage of ActionScript are relatively simple to set up in HTML5. Every convert to HTML5 is reading and writing JavaScript, not ActionScript.

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