Is JavaScript a Real Programming Language?

JavaScript, being untyped (EMCA-256, 2016), is well suited to small codebases. “Microservices” have emerged as a popular architecture, which is a great fit for web applications as these stateless microservices have enabled scalability and resilience. Web servers accept a request and render an HTML page. This straightforward approach: given some parameters, fetch some data, and render the components of the page. JavaScript does the same, both in the browser and on the server-side, with Node[1].

Building on this in 2011, React[2] became the poster-child for “universal” JavaScript as it was implemented by none other than Facebook (Hunt 2013). Later on in 2012, Instagram is built using React. Even Netflix uses React for embedded applications in set-top boxes and televisions, running their own stripped-down browser technology (Kwok, 2015). And the list keeps growing (Facebook Developers, 2016).

The React community believes that JavaScript is the language for everything, thus in February 2015, React Native[3] was announced at Facebook’s React.js Conference (Facebook Developers, 2015). It enables native iOS and Android development with React, using CSS styling conventions and Flexbot[4] for layout. React Native unifies product development teams across the web, iOS and Android. For some mobile apps, 85% of the code can be shared across these platforms, in particular the business logic and backend integration.

React has challenged former “best practices” for UI development. It leverages JavaScript to boost productivity, unify product teams, and share code across the major platforms: web and native; desktop, mobile and embedded; client and server. This truly makes JavaScript a real programming language.


EMCA (2016) ‘Standard EMCA -256’, EMCA International, June 2016 [Online]. Available at (Accessed September 2016).

Facebook Developers (2016) ‘Sites Using React’, 2016 [Online]. Available at (Accessed September 2016).

Hunt, P (2013) ‘Why did we create React?’, React blog, 05 June 2013 [Online]. Available at (Accessed September 2016).

Kwok, J (2015) ‘Netflix Likes React’ Netflix Blog, 28 January 2015 [Online]. Available at (Accessed September 2016).

React.js Conf 2015 Keynote – Introducing React Native (2015) Youtube video, added by Facebook Developers [Online]. Available at (Accessed September 2016).






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