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Understanding and using JavaScript

JavaScript is a "client side" programming language.  This means that instructions that are carried out are done so on the websites visitors computer rather than on the server that hosts the website.  JavaScript has the ability to talk with the server how ever, and can facilitate the transfer of information both ways.

JavaScript can make possible some of the following:

  • Document manipulation - CSS offers quite a bit of functionality regarding the styling of your website but some things need an extra push, JavaScript helps you do this.
  • Ajax functions - Ajax an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML Commonly this is used to provide a means of interacting with server side scripting to provide dynamic content without requiring a page refresh.  For example, say you have a contact form and upon submission you want to have it process and return a message in the same page with out reloading the page. You would use Ajax for this.
  • Other browser based functions such as forms validation, special visual effects and specialized user controls.

The above is a short list for sure but I am only trying to give you a general idea of what JavaScript is. At it's core, it is not for the faint of heart.  It can vary in functionality from browser to browser and platform to platform.  Luckily there are a few JavaScript frameworks out there such as JQuery to help make life a bit easier. 

For more information regarding JQuery, check our our section dedicated to understanding it. 

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