Javascript Rocks!

January 30, 2008

Loved this article by Michael Morrison in CIO Mag – You used Javascript to write what?

The other side of the coin is the mentality of viewing a Web application as a program, as opposed to a page. In this scenario, the application is utterly dependent on the active functionality made possible by JavaScript, which means it’s okay to forego users who lack JavaScript support. Google has embraced this philosophy in several marquee products, two of which are extremely popular: Gmail and Google Maps. Both applications make extensive use of Ajax (JavaScript), and neither apologizes to users who can’t run them due to a lack of JavaScript. If this article had been written just a few short years ago, I might have used an e-mail application as the ridiculous example of when not to use JavaScript, instead of Halo. But Gmail has pushed through that barrier.

Even if JavaScript-powered, web-based e-mail ultimately takes hold, surely there are other stand-alone applications that will just never make sense in Web form. Two such applications that come to mind are video and photo editing. Similar to games, these are such media-intensive applications that they just can’t make sense in JavaScript, right? Yet Adobe has already released Premiere Express for online video editing and is putting the finishing touches on Photoshop Express for Web-based photo editing. What’s interesting about these applications is that they aren’t technically built in JavaScript; they’re built in ActionScript, a close cousin of JavaScript used in Adobe’s Flex development environment. But the ActionScript in these applications is compiled, so the net effect is more akin to a native application. Adobe may be foreshadowing the future of Web scripting to some degree, at least in terms of building more feature-rich applications. And in doing so, they’re forcing us to rethink just what is possible with scripting languages.

Don’t forget “You used PHP to write what?” and read Jesse Donat comment about PHP “Not Scalable? Ever hear of a little something called Facebook?”

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I am possibly moving to Dallas, Texas, in the next couple of months, and I have been looking around at the real estate market on that side. I’ve been really impressed by quite a few APIs, applications and search engines that have sprung around the real estate market. It seems to be a very exciting area in terms of APIs, visualizations and software, I suspect because the data has always been there and has been captured and analyzed to death, now its time to rework the interface.

Anyway, I came across this very interesting visualization called Hindsite by an real estate search engine called Trulia. It is based on public property assessor records for properties in Trulia’s database and typically includes the date that a house was built. Check out this amazing visualization of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, specifically Plano. It is certainely making searching for a house a whole lot more interesting.

Real Estate information and mapping are ideal partners for a mashup, and besides using Microsoft Virtual Earth for Hindsight, Trulia has a very strong integration with Google Maps for their search engine. All around a very nice application. And they even have an API.