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Communications of the ACM


JavaScript and the Netflix User Interface

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Credit: Gaurang

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In the two decades since its introduction, JavaScript has become the de facto official language of the Web. JavaScript trumps every other language when it comes to the number of runtime environments in the wild. Nearly every consumer hardware device on the market today supports the language in some way. While this is done most commonly through the integration of a Web browser application, many devices now also support Web views natively as part of the operating system user interface (UI). Across most platforms (phones, tablets, TVs, game consoles), the Netflix UI, for example, is written almost entirely in JavaScript.

Despite its humble beginnings as a language intended to be Java's "silly little brother,"4 JavaScript eventually became a key component in enabling the Web 2.0 evolution. Via the introduction of Ajax, this evolution added an element of dynamism to the Web, creating the concept of a living and social Web that is now taken for granted. Today the language's influence continues to grow as it makes its way into the server landscape via Node.js. For all of its shortcomings, arguably JavaScript has more than successfully achieved the "write once, run anywhere" motto that Sun Microsystems often used to tout as one of the benefits of Java.


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