Chapter 1. Introduction to JavaScript and the Web

In this introductory chapter, you look at what JavaScript is, what it can do for you, and what you need in order to use it. With these foundations in place, you will see throughout the rest of the book how JavaScript can help you to create powerful web applications for your web site.

The easiest way to learn something is by actually doing it, so throughout the book you'll create a number of useful example programs using JavaScript. This process starts in this chapter, by the end of which you will have created your first piece of JavaScript code.

Introduction to JavaScript

In this section you take a brief look at what JavaScript is, where it came from, how it works, and what sorts of useful things you can do with it.

What Is JavaScript?

Having bought this book, you are probably already well aware that JavaScript is some sort of computer language, but what is a computer language? Put simply, a computer language is a series of instructions that tell the computer to do something. That something can be one of a wide variety of things, including displaying text, moving an image, or asking the user for information. Normally, the instructions, or what is termed code, are processed from the top line downward. This simply means that the computer looks at the code you've written, works out what action you want taken, and then takes that action. The act of processing the code is called running or executing it.

In natural English, here are instructions, ...

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