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This decade in JavaScript

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Looking back at the last decade in JavaScript / Web, it's been a wild ride.

Looking back at the last decade in JavaScript and how the Web evolved, it’s been a wild ride.

Despite having JS books that are dated 1998 in my library, I was not writing a lot of JavaScript in 2010. I was using it, mainly in form of Mootools and jQuery plugins. I was probably writing some glue code in JavaScript, but nothing groundbreaking.

JavaScript back then was definitely not seen as a hot language. Its main use case, outside of projects doing very advanced work with big budgets, like GMail, Google Maps, and others.

The concept of writing an entire application using JavaScript was certainly foreign to most people.

Fast forward to 31 December 2019. JavaScript is.. WOW.

JavaScript is everywhere. In those 10 years it got several new releases, including one major one (ES6), and how we write JavaScript today is very different from 2010 JavaScript.

Async and await, arrow functions, promises, generators, const/let, classes, template literals and more, definitely make modern JavaScript look and behave very differently.

ES Modules make bigger apps way more manageable to write and maintain.

But it’s not just the syntax and new features of the language that changed.

One of the biggest changes of the decade, I think, is the introduction and widespread adoption of build tools. From Grunt to Gulp to Webpack, Parcel and Rollup, things move pretty fast and as developers we have greater and greater power every day that goes on.

Module bundlers provide us very advanced features like tree shaking. It’s amazing how things evolved from the early days.

Should we mention Node.js? Technically, Node was first launched in Spring 2009, so it’s not part of this decade. But it’s fair to say that Node didn’t quite explode in its first year, but it did explode in this decade.

Let’s now talk about browsers. IE in January 2010 was at version 8 and 50+% market share and Edge did not exist. Chrome was 1 year old (!) at 5% market share, as 1.0 was released in December 2008. Can you imagine? Today Chrome is the most popular browser, by far. I’m looking at some stats saying 64% of the internet and Safari 16%.

Speaking of Safari, in January 2010 we had the iPhone 3GS (I didn’t. I had a Nokia. My first iPhone was the iPhone 4, released later that year). JavaScript didn’t run that fast on that device, I think. But today mobile browsers can execute JavaScript at lightning speed, and JavaScript is used to build mobile apps with awesome frameworks like Cordova, Ionic, React Native and many more.

npm was launched in January 2010, and its rise has been phenomenal. Born as a package manager for Node.js modules, today npm is the de-facto standard for frontend development, too. It passed the 1 million packages last June, and I’m pretty sure it’s the largest software directory in the world.

Speaking of that, GitHub in Jan 2010 was a little more than 1.5 years old. It’s funny to see how it looked like back then.

Lots of amazing projects got to life in this decade. I can think of Ember.js, CoffeeScript, Angular, React, just to mention a few.

I had the opportunity to participate and get into many different communities and the reason JavaScript and the entire ecosystem evolved so fast in this decade is the people that worked on it.

With enthusiasm, hard work, commitment and generosity, the Open Source community, along with hundreds of really driven and visionary companies, made this little corner of the development world what it is today.

It’s nice to look back and see how far we went.

I can’t really imagine where this next decade is going to take us.

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