Let’s Kill Javascript with Sensational Headlines!

The following article came across my G+ feed today:


Basically, the article’s headline indicates a major throwdown is ahead of us.  People will reject Javascript outright… killing it, or we all open our hearts to JS making it the ultimate one for all language.  Thankfully, the content of the article is a little better, describing the growing pains as people have adopted the language more and more and speculating how it (and we) will adapt.

To me, though, this and other sensational headlines like it is the same old history repeating itself.  Did we really think that the big buzzword that is HTML5 would last forever?  Sorry to tell you guys this, but people are getting bored.  And when people get bored, the other camp that doesn’t like technology X comes out with pitchforks with the great big “I told you so’s”.

If the pitchfork dudes can sway opinion, then the snowball rolls and gets bigger….and bigger…and bigger.

But whatever shall replace this hole in our hearts, now that technology X has died?  There’s always something, and when technology Y is announced, it’s imagined as a heroic knight riding in on a white horse to save the day.  Once that happens, technology X has “died”.

Dig the grave, say your last piece and pull up the hearse.

It will happen to Javascript and HTML5, too.  Does it matter, though?  What happens to a technology when it “dies”?  Lets ask Adobe!

Flash is dead, right?  Nah – just fallen out of favor in the larger context.  Adobe still invests resources into making Flash better and better.  They’ve remarketed it towards games now, but it still does everything it did before.  Yah, so it doesn’t do mobile without the help of it’s little brother AIR.

Is it dead to you because it doesn’t do mobile?  Guess what genius, there are still plenty of laptops and desktops.  There are still people consuming videos and games and rich media.  Yes, some of this is being eaten by HTML5 adoption.  What are we seeing after Flash has died?  Well, it simply declined.  Some folks moved on.  Others didn’t.  I still hear of plenty of Flash and Flex projects going on, it’s just not a compelling story anymore because there’s been a decline and headline writers are bored with it.

OK….maybe it’s too soon.  Maybe death doesn’t happen that quickly and my example is bunk.  How about another Adobe product?  Way back in my career’s beginning, I was in love with a multimedia authoring tool called Director.  That was actually proclaimed dead when Flash started gaining traction.  So…..2002 or 2003, maybe?

Know what Adobe just released?  Yep, Director 12.  That’s like 20 years worth of Director by Macromedia then Adobe.  Do people still use it much?  Nope.  Is it still alive?  Yep.

There will always be old projects to update, workflows to continue, but if the new hotness comes along – yes, your favorite technology will decline in popular favor.

How bout another example?  There was a time when people said Java will take over the world.  I wasn’t a Java dev until recently, but if you got caught up in the moment, you might seriously believe it would.  I was kinda guilty of thinking the same thing of Flash back in it’s prime.  Tons of Java jobs sprung up, entire enterprises were taken over, it was injected into college curriculum as the real world thing you’ll need.

Anddddddddd….it declined.   But shit, Java in it’s decline was probably better than most techs at their peaks.  As a result, Java is still there.  We still need developers for it, and Google bumped it up a little with Android development.  Some people might say that Google brought it back from the dead.  It was never truly dead.  It just lost several percentage points in market favor.

See a pattern?  I do.  I’ve lived it.  And I’ve freaked out when my favorite technology was being threatened thinking I’d die in a gutter doing Flash and Director work for half eaten sandwiches out of a dumpster.

So, Javascript developers, HTML5 developers – listen up.  Your favorite things will all DIE!  But that doesn’t mean that they won’t lead perfectly normal lives after death.  Javascript might do as well as Java so long as browsers exist as they do today.  But just like Java, Javascript will die when marketing people get bored and try to sell you the new hotness.

Having said that, don’t use my advice for complacency.  Typically when things die, you’ll still find work, but you’ll get paid less and gigs might be a little harder to find.  So don’t get tied in to one tech.  Explore and branch out.  The biggest mistake I ever made, not ONCE, but TWICE was to think that my favorite tech was the bees knees and it would take over the world.  I’m seeing it happen with front-enders today.  In fact, I can recall one brain melting moment at a meeting when someone suggested that native mobile app development in Objective C and Android was the “Flash” of the mobile generation.  It’s a detriment, when soon folks will see the light and we’ll all be doing HTML5.

No.  Cross-platform never wins.  It always takes the dive.  Ride it high while it’s here but don’t expect it to last.  Just simply get curious about different tools and languages, try them out – and pay attention to the market.  Nothing you do will be a waste of time.  Anything that dies on you will still be useful, if not in it’s current incarnation, then through the concepts and ideas it carries over to all other things in our space.

Guess what’s living now?  All of it.  I can be a Flash developer, a Java developer, a COBOL developer, and a Javascript developer.  I can make awesome HTML5 experience and make some cool Hypercard experiences (I think).  The more technologies that “die” the more opportunities we have to do new and cool things, not the same amount of opportunities or less.

One thought on “Let’s Kill Javascript with Sensational Headlines!”

  1. I just hope I’ll live long enough to see Adobe and Apple die an horrible death.

    When used to AS3, coding is javascript feels like half way between AS2 and AS3.
    Messy, and ugly.

    And for java, two words to describe the feeling, backward and sclerotic.

    AS3 was killed for political reason.
    It’s obvious.
    Google, Apple and Microsoft calling for more “open standards” …
    Give me a break.
    Can’t believe some people were guilible enough to believe that.
    It’s like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Syria calling for more human rights.

    Here’s the truth:
    Flash, but more specifically AS3, was a real threat to them, to the point they felt the need to team against Adobe.

    Silverlight for the web ?
    QuickTime for the web ?

    That’s the real why.

    Now the best part comes from people who were hated flash for the ads…
    Eat your HTML5 ads …

    And btw, do people really think that mobiles won’t be powerful enough to run the flash plugin ?

    I tell you, the “open standards” story from the big 3 and the “flash is a cpu hog” was just that, a story.

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