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 The Big Picture BUILDER.COM

Fredric Paul

Top 10 underrated Web building products and technologies

A few weeks ago, in my list of overrated Web building products and technologies, I promised to balance my nattering negativity with a list of underrated Web building players.

At first I thought I'd have to scramble to come up with the full list. After all, every writer knows it's more fun to be a critical curmudgeon than a pandering Pollyanna. But once I started thinking about all the cool things happening on the Web, the only hard part was winnowing the choices down to just 10.

Like the overrated list, this is an eclectic collection. Some items made the cut because they're largely ignored by the press or by Web builders. I've recognized others because no matter how popular they are, they're even better than we realize. Check 'em out, I'm sure you'll find a couple of your favorites.

Underrated! No. 10: JavaScript
How can I call JavaScript underrated? After all, CNET is constantly telling everyone just how cool and important it is.

Well, despite the hype, I still don't think the world fully understands the importance of JavaScript, or how it profoundly changes the Web development landscape.

On the low end, JavaScript lets even programming novices create powerful interactive Web applications using forms, windows, mouseovers, interactive menus, and many other cool techniques. JavaScript is a key ingredient of Dynamic HTML (DHTML), and only the relative dearth of good JavaScript tools keeps it from becoming an even more ubiquitous technology.

On the high end, JavaScript seriously challenges big-time programming languages like Java and C++. Slowly, even hard-core developers are recognizing that you can use JavaScript to do many things that previously required far more complex and time-consuming programming approaches. JavaScript is even being used to create mission-critical, enterprise-level applications.

2Bridge Software, for example, has built its 2Share information distribution product almost entirely out of JavaScript. And more and more companies are using JavaScript as a key component in their corporate intranets.

While some traditional programmers may feel threatened by scripters able to create important Web-based applications, it's this very promise that qualifies JavaScript as underrated.

Underrated! No. 9: Where's the Web beef?

Related CNET stories:
 • Spotlight on JavaScript
 • SuperScripter
 • Master Builder: Learn!
 • The Big Picture: Web scripting gets no respect
 • Master Builder: Surprise! JavaScript is object-oriented

Links from around the Web:
 • 2Bridge Software's 2Share
 • JavaScript resources, in Snap
 • Ask the JavaScript Pro
 • The JavaScript Planet
 • HotSyte: The JavaScript Resource
 • IDM's JavaScript FAQ
 • Live Software's JavaScript Resource Center

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