What Is JavaScript Used For?


Updated September 27, 2022 · 4 Min Read

JavaScript uses include web development, programming, game development, and more. This versatile language creates small scripts and large applications. Learn more below.

ComputerScience.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Credit: Sanja Radin / iStock / Getty Images Plus

JavaScript is a programming language used to create dynamic content for websites. It achieves this by adding new HTML elements while modifying existing ones.

Many coders enhance web development skills using JavaScript to create user-friendly and interactive websites. With this programming language, front-end developers build elements like image carousels, games, and countdowns.

According to the 2020 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, nearly 70% of survey respondents cite JavaScript as the most popular programming language.

The following sections highlight JavaScript uses along with its history.

History of JavaScript

Brendan Eich invented JavaScript in 1995 to add interactivity to webpages. JavaScript is a text-based, client-side programming language.

"Client-side" means code executes on the user's computer, rather than on the server. This makes JavaScript load faster than server-side languages like PHP or ASP.

Most web browsers run JavaScript to create dynamically updating content, control multimedia, and animate images. Coders use it to build games, calculators, and other programs for websites.

Stack Overflow Developer’s Survey respondents rate JavaScript as the most popular language for building front-end web applications. JavaScript's popularity is due in part to being relatively easy to learn and implement.

Who Uses JavaScript?

Job titles commonly working with JavaScript include web developer, front-end developer, and full-stack developer.

JavaScript is essential to front-end developers. It helps code interactive elements and develop things like fonts and menus. Developers who code apps use JavaScript. Even those specializing in back-end development may gain an edge in the job market when skilled in JavaScript uses.

JavaScript use is the basic foundation for frameworks like React and AngularJS. Put plainly: learning JavaScript may provide additional flexibility when developing applications.

This technology also helps web developers create interactive content. Through JavaScript use, developers can introduce animations, scrolling effects, sliders, and other tools that boost user engagement and satisfaction.

According to one survey, 69.7% of web developers prefer this text-based programming language when compared to 24 other competitors.

Industries like finance, advertising and marketing, and education rely on JavaScript. Major companies using JavaScript include Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

Popular Features of JavaScript

JavaScript remains popular among developers for a variety of reasons. First, JavaScript is relatively easy to learn compared to other programming languages.

Second, JavaScript is versatile and can create a wide variety of applications. Third, all major web browsers support JavaScript, making creation of cross-platform applications easier. Additional features include:

  • JavaScript runs on all devices, including computers, iPhones, Androids, and smart TVs.
  • JavaScript is standardized and receives frequent version updates.
  • JavaScript works with many different frameworks and libraries.

Common Uses for JavaScript

JavaScript has many applications in modern technology. Developers use it in server-side scripting, web applications, and browser extensions. Below are some of the most common uses.

Web Development

JavaScript uses in web development include dynamic content, browser compatibility, and user experience. JavaScript enhances browser compatibility, meaning websites work across a variety of platforms, including mobile devices.

To make webpages interactive, web developers use JavaScript to create drop-down menus, form validation, and to display data in real time. In other instances, JavaScript use enables dynamic content by allowing scripts to run in the background.

This allows websites to automatically update content without requiring users to reload the page. With this programming tool, developers create engaging and intuitive websites without having to learn other programming languages.

Web Applications

JavaScript is a versatile scripting language that can create robust web applications. JavaScript can create interactive features like menus, and form validation.

It can also improve the user experience by providing visual feedback or animations. In addition, JavaScript may communicate with backend servers to retrieve data or perform actions.

JavaScript can make webpages more interactive. For example, a webpage can include a form that requires users to input data. The JavaScript code can then take that data and use it to generate a custom response.

Other times, the developer can leverage JavaScript to change the content of the page, add event handlers, or create new HTML elements.

Mobile Applications

For mobile app developers, JavaScript uses include responsive user interfaces. JavaScript can create buttons that change color when tapped, or dropdown menus that appear after pressing on an icon.

In addition, JavaScript can power the back end of mobile applications. Developers program JavaScript to create database models and to query data from databases.

JavaScript can also create application programming interfaces (APIs) that mobile applications later use to communicate with other applications or services.

Game Development

With its widespread use in web browsers and other platforms, JavaScript enables game developers to create interactive and engaging games. Games built with JavaScript may include user input, physics, sound, and graphics.

Using JavaScript, developers create games users can play across a variety of devices. As the popularity of JavaScript-based games continues to grow, game developers will have even more opportunities to create exciting gaming experiences.

Server Applications

JavaScript can create server-based applications users can access on a web browser. Here, it makes webpages that provide a more interactive experience.

Second, JavaScript creates server-side scripts to automate tasks or perform other functions on the server. In this capacity, the scripting language reduces processing time.

Finally, JavaScript can make server-side components that extend the functionality of an existing application.

Presentations and Slideshows

Features enabled by JavaScript when creating presentations and slideshows may include:

User Input: JavaScript can track user input (e.g. clicks, keystrokes) and use that information to control the presentation or slideshow. For example, JavaScript can advance to the next slide when a user clicks on a particular element.

Dynamic Content: JavaScript can intuitively update content in a presentation or slideshow. For example, displaying different images in a carousel based on user input.

Animation: JavaScript can build animations and transitions between slides, making the presentation more engaging.

Top Coding Bootcamp Programs

Common Questions About JavaScript

What is the main use of JavaScript?

As a client-side programming language, JavaScript's most common use is front-end web development, improving the user interface and interactivity for websites. Application developers may also use JavaScript beyond the web, to develop games, mobile applications, and server applications.

Where is JavaScript used today?

Today, developers use JavaScript to create interactive webpages, process data on the server, and develop mobile apps. JavaScript also improves the performance of web applications, because it can help speed up code.

How do I start learning JavaScript?

To prepare for a career as a JavaScript developer, there are multiple resources available, including online resources such as Codecademy or freeCodeCamp. After absorbing the concepts, experiment with different JavaScript libraries and frameworks. Learners can also network for support throughout the learning process.

Is JavaScript hard to learn?

While some students may find it difficult to learn, surveys show JavaScript is one of the most commonly used programming languages, and most popular technologies. In 2020 it ranked as one of the top 10 programming languages.

Recommended Reading

Take the next step toward your future.

Discover programs you’re interested in and take charge of your education.