Server-side Javascript: Hope and opportunity

Update: See also

Dion’s cartoon resonated with me:

Resonated because only last night I was thinking it’s about time I actually started playing with server-side Javascript, and wrote my first, extremely dumb, AppJet app. I will hopefully make it, like, actually do something at some stage.

I’ve discussed the potential of server-side Javascript before, and the more I think about, the more I like it. Javascript is a sophisticated language and, by now, a language very familiar to many professional web developers.

The real gap is in server-side frameworks and hosting. There’s no “killer app” Javascript server, a la what Rails did to Ruby. I haven’t even heard of most of the SSJS frameworks listed in Wikipedia. Furthermore, try finding a virtual host that supports Javascript! You would practically need one that support Java, so you can run Rhino or whatever, and few virtual hosts do that. At least Python and Ruby were running on many virtual hosts before Django and Rails showed up. For that reason, the model pursued by AppJet seems worthy. If they can come up with a solid virtualisation environment for Javascript, they may be on to a big winner. They could be the BEA or JBoss of 2015 (2010 seems a bit early for all that!). And if the rumour is true they’re using Scala, they’ll get doubleplus-coolness votes for language selection.

8 thoughts on Server-side Javascript: Hope and opportunity

  1. @JayFresh I was going to answer the first comment with the second comment…I think Jaxer has the right approach, which is to use something in C/C++ that can be made executable. As Mozilla runs on a multitude of platforms, with Spidermonkey underneath, hopefully it will turn out to be a very portable model.

    @Uri: The timing of all this was interesting. There’s definitely a confluence going on here. I’m very excited about Jaxer and think it has great potential. The possibility that it will be able to work on standard hosting services, so long as they have mod_jaxer installed, and without being dependent on Java, which has never taken off on virtual hosts. Hopefully the community will influence the providers in this direction. It’s also great to see a well-backed open-source solution, I would have preferred it to see an Apache/MIT license, but it’s still a vast improvement over other efforts. The out-of-the-box experience for Jaxer is great and I’m keen to write something semi-serious with it and put it up on a VPS box. Dion’s using for his cartoons, something I need to try at some stage :).

  2. How funny these things are. I remember when I started doing web programming about 10 years ago and in my very naive attitude when I had to do my first server side script, my first try was to run my javascript on the server and I asked a friend of my why it was not working … he also naively told me: it’s impossible because js is a client side language … and the picture above really prooves that where going in circles … and just curious to know if js will be good with performance and threading on the server … (this is probably another naive question of me) 🙂

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  4. Dear Sir: I have not read your text. But, I am looking for a current, basic text in ssjs. I do have Aptana Studio on my computer. I program in csjs. Is your text at once basic/comprehensive in ssjs?? If yes, wonderful. I will purchase now. If not, can you recommend a more elementary text. I will also purchase your text a pinch later. I do hope to hear from you at your convenience.

    Respectfully yours, CBGayles

  5. Carlos, I’m not aware of any great text in SSJS right now. Perhaps that’s the big opportunity right there!

    Lots of blog articles though if you google “SSJS” and the very popular “Node JS”.

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