JavaScript Guru Wants Us To Stop Using JavaScript
Written by Mike James   
Wednesday, 05 July 2023

Douglas Crockford, creator of JSON and JSLint and author of JavaScript: The Good Parts has declared that JavaScript is a smelly language and that we need to move on to a new language. This has evoked a huge response from developers.

It is this short snippet of video that surfaced last month that reveals that Douglas Crockford has lost his erstwhile love of JavaScript and is looking for a change:

Here's a transcript of what Crockford says:

20 years ago I was advocating for JavaScript. My story was that JavaScript was a much better language than anybody knows and that if we use it properly we can do amazing things about it and it can change the world - and in fact that happened.

But now my evangel is that we should stop using JavaScript.

It is has so many congenital defects it really is a smelly language. There's just lot of crap in it. It still maybe for its field of application the best language in the world for doing that kind of stuff - but that's not good enough. We should be moving on to the next generation of languages.

It used to be that we'd get new computer languages about every generation.

I started with Fortran and then C and C++ and Java and JavaScript and so on and then it kind of stopped. There are still people developing languages but nobody cares. One person can make a programming language, a really good one, but you can't get adoption for it. 

There are lots of terrible mistakes in the way that the web works, and the way our operating systems work, and we can't get new ones. We're just stuck with this crap and they keep piling new features on everything and the new features always create new problems.

It doesn't have to be like that. We could be using really clean operating systems with really clean languages and really clean runtimes and doing all this stuff in a much more reliable way, but we don't seem to want to do that.

I've done JavaScript for a generation. It's time for the next thing. And I don't think that should be considered a radical point of view. I think it should be a normal evolutionary view.

When Honeypot posted this video on YouTube it invited comments - and they are still pouring in - mostly agreeing with at least some of the views expressed. Many people have asked to see more of this video, but no link has been forthcoming, even though you'll find another short snippet from the same original footage with Crockford musing on alternative ways to pronounce JSON which is dated almost a year ago.  

We did, however, find a new video in which Crockford repeats his disillusionment with JavaScript and outlines actor-based programming, the paradigm he now advocates. Lasting almost half an hour, it is an interview with Ron Itelman and Juan Cruz Viotti of Intelligence.ai in its Concepts First series.

 

Both interviewers had read and been impressed by JavaScript the Good Parts with Itelman referring to it as:

a seminal book that rapidly moved the adoption of the JavaScript language forward. 

In reply, Crockford recalls that JavaScript was:

poorly documented, poorly implemented and poorly designed. I struggled with it and ultimately wrote a book that I wish had been available to me when I started.

With reference to his current attitude Crockford states:

I don't want JavaScript to be the last programming language - there's got to be something better in the future.

The interview moves on to a discussion of actor-based programming but that doesn't really address the problem of what to do about JavaScript or whether we really need to do anything about JavaScript.

JavaScript is indispensable to the web  and even in the Stop Using JavaScript rant Crockford states that it may be the best programming language in the world for this application - a good things as JavaScript too deeply embedded in the web for revolutionary change to be anything other than disastrous.

Moreover, even though Crockford, while asking for a new generation of programming languages to evolve, doesn't acknowledge it, JavaScript has evolved and is still evolving. For a start, JavaScript has a huge ecosystem and sees a healthy amount of change by way of new frameworks. But more importantly it isn't a single language. TypeScript, Microsoft's alternative to JavaScript, which is a relative youngster having its first release in 2012, is now the most popular flavor of JavaScript and is used at least part of the time by almost 90% of JavaScript devs, a fact I found surprising when we reported it in High Satisfaction Among JavaScript Developers, looking at the results of the 2022 State of JavaScript Survey.

So, just as Rust is regarded by its aficionados as a better C and Kotlin is seen as better Java, TypeScript is a better JavaScript and a successful one.

Personally, I think introducing strict typing into JavaScript is neither necessary nor desirable - it goes against its instance-based dynamic objects, something which is at the very core of JavaScript and which makes it unique. Inspired by Crockford's subtitle "The Good Parts" my own book about JavaScript is subtitled  "The Amazing Parts" and includes features that have improved the language since its original launch in 1995 and since the era in which Crockford wrote about it, 2008. If you want to find reasons to continue to advocate on behalf of JavaScript dip into JavaScript Jems: The Amazing Parts and find your favorite feature.  

  • Mike James is the author of JavaScript Jems: The Amazing Parts, a collection of twenty readings on the features that make JavaScript stand apart from other languages and make it special in terms of having admirable qualities.

  

 

Related Articles

JavaScript: The Good Parts (Book Review)

Crockford On Monads And Gonads

High Satisfaction Among JavaScript Developers

JavaScript Turns 25

TypeScript - Microsoft's Replacement For JavaScript

TypeScript A Decade On

JavaScript Jems: The Amazing Parts (I/O Press)

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 July 2023 )