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July 4, 2023 - 7 minutes

Understanding JavaScript: The Basics of Client-Side Web Development

As such a versatile programming language, JavaScript is always in demand. 

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So you’ve decided that web development is for you and, more specifically, that you want to explore a future in tech as a front end web developer. You’ve heard about JavaScript and know it’s a crucial part of the front end, but aren’t totally sure about what you’ll need to learn. Or have some experience with JavaScript, but want to dive deeper into the client side of web development. 

It’s also possible you’re torn between the front and back ends, and have decided to be a full stack developer. Just in case you’re a bit confused, here’s the difference: front end developers focus on the client side of web development and full stack developers work on both the client and software side of the website. 

There’s no right or wrong choice here; it’s up to you and your preferences. But whatever you choose, JavaScript will be an absolute key part of your work. So let’s break it down: what is JavaScript? How does it work? What role does it play on the front end? We’ll answer these questions and give you some tips and tricks to both learning and working with JavaScript throughout this article. 

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a programming language used for web development, expanding the capabilities of HTML and CSS to include new and dynamic additions. Thanks to JavaScript, websites can be more dynamic and users can interact with different features. Here’s how:

  • HTML is the structure of the web page and its content

  • CSS offers styles for the content of the web page

  • JavaScript allows you to add a specific style, link to external content, include images, and personalize the user experience. 

As one of the world’s most popular coding languages, practically every developer you meet will have at least some experience with JavaScript. Why? Well:

  • JavaScript is fast: no one wants to be continuously delayed by slow loading speeds or server connections; because it’s an interpreted language that runs on the client side, it requires less time to secure a server connection, making the program faster. 

  • JavaScript runs on the client side: because JavaScript runs on the client side, the server is free from this added weight and can handle other tasks. 

  • JavaScript is easy to use: as one of the most widely-known programming languages worldwide, JavaScript is easier to learn because you’ll have a lot of online or peer help if you run into any issues.

  • JavaScript is versatile: JavaScript can be used on both the front and back ends and can be integrated with other tools like Node.js to finish the website. 

  • JavaScript is widespread: because the vast majority of developers, on both the front and back end, use JavaScript, it’s widely accepted by browsers and compatible with lots of other languages. 

  • JavaScript has lots of features: despite its simple learning curve and widespread knowledge of it, JavaScript boasts lots of added features to enhance your web development project. 

However, just like anything else, JavaScript does it have its limitations. Let’s take a look:

  • JavaScript can be hacked: because anyone can see the JavaScript script of a website, it could be misused. And because JavaScript knowledge is so widespread, someone could change the code of the website and put the security of client data in danger. 

  • JavaScript is harder to debug: compared to other programming languages, it’s harder to see bugs on JavaScript and determine the source. 

  • JavaScript is seen differently on each browser: because JavaScript can run on multiple browsers, it must be tested on all to make sure it’s presenting similarly. 

  • JavaScript reflects coding errors: one mistake in the code can bring down an entire website, interrupting business functions.

Client vs. server side with JavaScript

It’s pretty clear, but here’s a quick breakdown: client-side is the part of the websites that clients see and use; the server side is the other side where the foundation of the website is stored. Having a hard time distinguishing between the two? Well, think about when you enter password information into a website and the page loads. The client side is what you just saw and where you entered your information; the server takes that information, validates it, and sends you to the next page. 

JavaScript can be used on both the client (front end) or server (back end), which is why it’s so commonly used. On the client side, JavaScript’s dynamic nature helps create visually appealing websites that feature images, graphics, different colors, and other marketing tools used to grab your attention. 

JavaScript Frameworks 

First, let’s define a framework in web development: just like it sounds, frameworks are a structure that help web developers see what they can build or create. They facilitate the coding process across a wide range of programming languages; the actual programming language is just the characters that make up the code itself. 

Lots of frameworks are open source, which means that they were designed by a group of software developers and are now available to the public, can be changed or modified, and is freely available for use by anyone. Okay, now that you have that all cleared up, let’s explore some of the best front end (client-side) JavaScript frameworks that can help you harness all its power. 


Angular is a popular choice for scalable web apps, is free, and supports two-way data binding, allowing your apps to share data amongst themselves: 

  • It boasts great templates, letting you achieve high-quality UI designs in little to no time 

  • You can create apps easily, mobile or desktop

  • It allows for route-level code splitting, speeding up your app’s speed 


This open source framework boasts a huge network of users; it’s easily integrated with any app and was designed by Facebook:

  • It’s easy to debug code with React

  • It offers compatibility across various browsers and boasts a declarative style, facilitating the UI process

  • Using Flux, it supports one-way data binding


Another popular framework is Vue.js, a fast and simple to use framework: 

  • Vue.js offers data binding, which facilitates the assignment of values to HTML 

  • It also uses virtual DOM, which makes its performance faster 

  • It's easy to learn and offers lots of transition elements 


Perfect for web, desktop, and mobile apps, Node.js is a popular choice for server side rendering, but is used for the client side as well: 

  • It’s open source and has an incredible community, full of web development professionals giving their advice and helping you out; the online community has also worked together to build new Node.js skills

  • It doesn’t buffer data and offers a low processing time for audio and visual files 

  • It’s built on Google Chrome’s V8 JS engine and executes code rapidly


Another open source framework, Meteor boasts one of the best front-end frameworks, Blaze.js:

  • It’s a great fullstack framework for both creating and deploying apps

  • It supports almost all databases that use Node.js 

  • It lets you use the same code across the front end, back end, mobile, and desktop apps, making the development process much easier

Ultimately, JavaScript’s versatility means that there’s a ton of frameworks out there. Assess your needs, do your research, and then pick the one that best suits your project. 

Learning JavaScript

Now that you’ve seen how great JavaScript is and how it’s one of the best programming languages to add to your resume, it’s time to get to work learning it! Here are a few of our tips and tricks to learning this popular and growing language: 

  • Take a bootcamp: if you know that your future lies with coding, a bootcamp is a great way to receive the education you need to reach success in a short period of time and with a much smaller financial investment than if you decided to pursue a college degree. Bootcamps offer flexibility, financing options, career services, and remote courses--no matter your situation, you’ll be able to find the perfect fit for you.

  • Read JavaScript books: if you learn best from reading and already have some initial knowledge of JavaScript, checking out some books may be your best option. Programming language books are typically well edited and reviewed, making sure they provide accurate information (which isn’t always the case online!).

  • Start practicing: whether it’s at a local hackathon or just online by yourself, practice makes perfect and as you get more and more experience with coding, you’ll find yourself moving faster and developing more detailed programs. 

At the end of the day, it’s up to you, but if you’re truly set on making JavaScript the next skill you add to your resume, then it’s time to dive right in. Check out Ironhack’s Web Development Bootcamp and get the instruction you need to enter the workforce as a JavaScript expert. Ready? We can’t wait to see your application! 

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