JavaScript, jQuery, and the DOM

Task: add a jQuery handler to your blog.

####Python vs JavaScript

A nice essay on the differences between JavaScript and Python.

####Why JavaScript?

JavaScript was developed for the release of Netscape Navigator 2.0 in 1995 and was added to Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 the following year. Notoriously, Brendan Eich created it in 10 days. Despite being full of bad design decisions and having a syntax that superficially looks like Java, it is has some very powerful programming features–not shared by many mainstream languages–borrowed from languages like Lisp and Smalltalk. It was originally pitched as a nice way to do form validation and was quickly adopted for implementing dynamic page elements, like dropdown menus. It was several years before JavaScript was widely recognised, not as a toy scripting language for pepping up web pages, but as a serious programming language.

By the early 2000s, it began to be used for populating an already-loaded web page with new content in what became known as AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) applications. Google launched gmail in 2004 and Google Maps the following year. The widely-used jQuery library was released in 2006. The Google V8 JavaScript engine, which greatly speeded up the execution of JavaScript, was released in 2008 with the first version of Google Chrome.

Many languages can be compiled to JavaScript, so it is possible to write web applications without using JavaScript, but no other language will actually run in a web browser without first being converted to JavaScript.

JavaScript is also used as a server language. Node.js was released in 2009 and has started to become widely adopted for building applications that manage data in real time, such as for gaming, online chat and remote monitoring.

####What is jQuery?

jQuery is a library for manipulating the DOM (Document Object Model). The DOM is a convention for describing and manipulating the elements of an HTML document, which treats the document as a heirarchical tree with HTML tags as nodes in that tree.

There is a good summary of how jQuery works on the jQuery website.

There is also a good introduction to the DOM at W3C.

####How to use jQuery

As with using a frontend framework library like Twitter Bootstrap, link to a version of jQuery delivered from a CDN (such a cdnjs) and create a separate link to a local application file. In order to reduce load times, link to both files at the bottome of your document:

    <script src="//"></script>
    <script src="/js/application.js"></script>

The application.js file should look something like this:

$( document ).ready(function() {

    // code to follow


####The task

  • Add the jQuery library to your blog.
  • Create an application.js file and link to it from the front page of your blog.
  • Add an empty ready event to your application.js file.
  • In the ready event loop, create a function to hide the text of each blog entry when the page first loads.
  • In the ready event loop, create a function that responds to a browser event (a click on a link or a button, say) by toggling the visibility of the text of each blog entry.