Report from WDN 09: Educating the Next Generation of Web Professionals, III

Live blogging first afternoon session . . .

JavaScript with Derek Featherstone

DerekDerek talked about how to make JavaScript “not the enemy.” He talked about unobtrusive JavaScript and things that are going on in the scripting world and with Ajax. He said Ajax is to web pages what instant messaging is to email.

JavaScript needs to be used in a responsible way. It needs to be taught to be used sensibly. If JavaScript is built on a structure of logic, structure, presentation and finally behavior then most users will be able to access content.

In the current crop of web apps, there is less focus on the backend, HTML, and CSS and a huge focus on JavaScript. In a situation where the focus is on powering everything by JavaScript, then everything isn’t guaranteed to be there in terms of content. The potential to topple is there when the main focus is not the foundation but the behavior layer.

Problems: there’s not security in JS. You can’t expect JS to be enabled in the users browser. There’s no official accreditation for JS.

Educators need to help initiate a change in the perception of JavaScript. Things can be accessible if they use JS. It may be open to everyone with a low entry barrier for development, but it isn’t a toy. Rather it’s a critical part of a design.

Best practices are progressive enhancement, maintainability and modularity. Remove the random browser element.

JavaScript frameworks can help remove random browser elements and improveĀ  maintainability of JS. But frameworks don’t necessarily make anyone a better coder.

The market needs good JS developers because scripting is where the future is going. So education needs to focus on quality-oriented JS developers.

A teaching tip he showed is to connect the syntax of CSS and the syntax of JS. Put them together side by side and show how to get to all elements of a certain kind in CSS and how to get to all elements of a certain kind in JS.

2 thoughts on “Report from WDN 09: Educating the Next Generation of Web Professionals, III”

  1. Andrea, I don’t remember a specific framework recommendation. It’s hard to catch everything live blogging, but I don’t think he named a particular one as “the” framework to use.

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