JavaScript: the Big Divide - comments

Here you can leave comments about my presentation "JavaScript: The Big Divide" that I just finished.

See also the slides.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, web developer, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter or Mastodon.
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1 Posted by David Golightly on 13 March 2007 | Permalink

I would love to be able to say something interesting about the presentation, but since I couldn't make it to SXSW, do you have notes up somewhere so the rest of us can see them?

2 Posted by Michael Moncur on 13 March 2007 | Permalink


Excellent presentation! I was expecting something boring and technical but it gave me a lot to think about on the social issues instead. One of the best ones at SXSW this year.

As for your thesis about The Big Divide, I have to agree with the comment someone in the audience said: (paraphrased)

"It's not about web developers vs. app developers, it's about people who are willing to learn the right way to program different platforms rather than thinking they know everything."

Nevertheless, you're right about the divide.

I think the fundamental problem is that JavaScript still isn't taken seriously as a programming language. That's why Java and Ruby programmers will slap together some JavaScript rather than taking the time to learn to do it right, and also why HTML coders will slap it together without learning how to be good programmers.

3 Posted by Alex K. on 13 March 2007 | Permalink

I liked your presentation but didn't agree when you said that Ajax is just a fad and is going away.

Ajax is here to stay...I agree however that it's often used just for the sake of using it and then doesn't enhance the experience for the visitor. But it's still useful technology it's going to be used more and more, as bigger companies start building more apps for the web that mimic desktop applications.

In regards to the point about programmers not respecting javascripters...that's true but javascripters carry much of the blame for that. Now that web apps are becoming more complex the need for better more thought out code is almost a necessity. Just as html and css has progressed from horrible tables and spacer gifs to where it is now....semantic xhtml and css (which requires more skill to do)....the same thing is happening with JS and coders are now building more complex classes etc.

4 Posted by cody lindley on 13 March 2007 | Permalink

Giving the context of the presentation it would be my opinion that the JavaScript framework (regardless of how you feel about them) is currently helping to minimize this divide. The javascript framework has opened the minds of software engineers to the complexities of developing for the squirrelly web browser, and the web developer to the purposes and practices of good software development. As has been discussed many times before using frameworks involves a certain amount of risk. But as I see it, the sudden increase in the usage and construction of frameworks provides a platform for collaboration where everyone is talking and thinking. This might just be where we bridge the gap.

5 Posted by Alex Payne on 13 March 2007 | Permalink

With all your knowledge about JavaScript internals, why give a panel about programming language religion and tech industry politics? I was hoping for some technical insight, or at least something substantive, and was greatly disappointed.

Opinions on methodology are a dime a dozen. Backing them up with practice is genuinely valuable.

6 Posted by Mike Vincent on 14 March 2007 | Permalink


Just wanted to thank you for a very entertaining, thought provoking presentation.

7 Posted by Shane Shepherd on 15 March 2007 | Permalink


I did not have the opportunity to meet you at the conference, but I did attend your panel. You did a great job; I would've liked to have seen you have a little more time to elaborate than the 30 minutes time slot you were given. It was interesting and thought provoking non-the-less.

Being non-specialist myself (I am a Photoshop, HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, ASP.NET, C# web/application developer), I was encouraged to hear a general theme at this years SXSW saying that "generalists", with skills like my own, are increasing in value. I don't consider myself a "Javascript Guru", but I know enough to get the job done...and I'm an enthusiastic student. I'm looking forward to reading you r book soon. Thank you for your panel!

8 Posted by Lindsey Simon on 15 March 2007 | Permalink

Is there a posting of the slides online? I'd love to share them with my colleagues. I think this was the most relevant panel I saw at SXSW to issues we're facing at work.

9 Posted by Jonathan Boutelle on 15 March 2007 | Permalink

Hey PPK!

Loved your talk (though I feel the divide between application programmers and web devs is DECREASING, not increasing).

In the current language hierarchy as I perceive it, Javascript actually beats java! Here's what I see as the hierarchy:

Visual Basic

Discuss. ;->

(Oh, and if you have ppt, feel free to upload to slideshare. I think you had css/html though, which isn't surprising ;->).

10 Posted by ppk on 19 March 2007 | Permalink

@Alex P.: I posted a clear overview of my presentation back in November, so you could have known I was going to talk about social aspects.

@the rest: thanks for your thoughts. Not all of you agree with me, but that's fine. I just thought I'd discuss a radical theory and see what happens next. What's happening is the beginnings of a discussion, which is great. Besides, as I said in Austin, I'd be truly happy if someone is able to prove me wrong.

11 Posted by Quentin on 4 April 2007 | Permalink

Another slide show : makes me believe things could change.
It becomes very interesting from slide 30...

12 Posted by Mike on 4 April 2007 | Permalink

I thought that your presentation was right on and it bummed me out that so many people seemed to disagree.

I think a lot of the people who disagreed with you reckon themselves to be in that "in between" part of the populace you mentioned. They are probably fooling themselves. Most people really are designers/front end devs OR programmers, and even those that do both will be weighted toward one (usually design).

I for one found that I was just doing a lot of javascript "tricks" and thinking that meant I knew javascript. This might be were some other folks are at. I hope they don't ignore the point of your talk though, because I learned a great deal from "real" programmers, as you said. And hopefully taught those programmers a little something about HTML/etc.

People should never deny themselves the opportunity to learn something just because they think they already know enough, or because they feel insulted when you call them a designer. That's just goofy.

At any rate, thanks for the talk, I really enjoyed it.

13 Posted by Sanford Rosser on 1 May 2007 | Permalink

I was always scared of javascript because I'd been told it was too complicated and might cause problems for my websites. Your presentation was most helpful.