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Jul 13, 2019 10:45:50

The History of Javascript

by @danielmiller | 767 words | 🐣 | 314💌

Daniel Miller

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This is a great video which is a general-audience introduction to the history of JavaScript. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy with nostalgia, but also made me make some sense out of my odd career path.

In 1999 I transitioned out of a brief post-college career in the duel part-time jobs of personal training and church music directing and into computing and technology. I started as a trainee, then as a trainer, in a medium-sized enterprise middleware software company. It was a transformational opportunity in my life and I have the person who offered me the opportunity and mentored me for those first few years, Neil Crane, to thank for changing my professional life forever. (We met at the church where I was leading music, and this would not be the only time my music endeavors led directly to opportunities that enhanced my technology career.)

I survived the first throes of the dot-com bust, which reached its tentacles into all areas of technology, even enterprise middleware. About the time I was finally let go from that company, I was getting much more into web technologies, and landed a series of freelance gigs building sites in ColdFusion and PHP. These “dark ages” for the web were actually a bright spot for me, as I learned about all things web in a relatively low-pressure environment. I started blogging, got heavily into XML due to my experience with it during my enterprise software days and its relevance in things like RSS and OWL…I even built my own CMS (as you do) using a custom flat-file XML storage format (used at the time to publish this very blog–the technological history of this blog is another interesting story suitable for a separate post).

I freelanced for many years, navigating a number of personal whitewaters and landing in Dallas, where I began exercising my entrepreneurial inclinations. Said CMS was re-written in PHP with a MySQL database. After a number of failed business ventures, from all of which I learned a great deal, it was time to get back into the full-time job market. I spent an unproductive year attempting to re-integrate into the Microsoft stack I had learned at that first job. Then I got a job as a front-end engineer at a small educational software company that had a 10-year-old Java application that used XML as its data transfer layer. XML! In 2008! I discovered ActionScript, which, as the video mentioned, actually held all the promise of ECMAScript without all the baggage and nonsense of JavaScript. History would conspire against me, however, something I even mention on my LinkedIn:

I was responsible for choosing and implementing a new front-end framework and unfortunately, I chose Flex…

Fortunately, another life-changing opportunity came my way by way of my lesser music career. Some members of an Albuquerque band I knew by way of the Dallas music scene were part of a startup and needed a front-end developer with some design chops. I joined and dove straight into the deep end of modern JavaScript. Or, what was modern JavaScript in 2009. ColdFusion, PHP, and .NET were in the rear-view mirror and I was officially a specialized front-end engineer.

Queue additional personal difficulties in my own life, and business difficulties for the startup, and I landed again in the place I was most comfortable: founding (or in this case, co-founding) a technology-based company. This was the spring of 2011, and Backbone had just come out the previous fall. We worked on a number of small projects for big companies and Backbone was just the lightweight framework we needed for those jobs.

More business challenges precipitated my departure from that startup and I began looking for new freelance opportunities. My very first such opportunity was with Modern Message. Freelance quickly turned into full-time and I have been here for the last 6.5 years. We built the post-MVP version of our application in Backbone. We’ve now completed most of a re-write in React. It has been the perfect environment for me to exercise the experience of my varied background. I’ve coded, hired, managed, and led a team that has grown from just me to 17 in engineering and from 3 to 59 company-wide.

Just like the majority of web-based software shops, we’re heavily invested in JavaScript as part of our technology stack. It was fun to look back at the twisty, weird, and storied history of JavaScript and see my own path reflected in its meanderings.

Originally published at daniel.industries

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