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Cover image for Syntax and Basic Constructs (Pt a) - Part 8 of Frontend Development Series

Syntax and Basic Constructs (Pt a) - Part 8 of Frontend Development Series

dillionmegida profile image Dillion Megida Updated on ・4 min read

In the past sections, we have learnt the basics of front-end development - HTML and CSS. But it doesn't stop there!
HTML and CSS define the presentation of our website but when it comes to interactions, we have Javascript.

You could find a list of all articles in this series here - Frontend development series

According to our roadmap - roadmap.sh/frontend, we'd be exploring the syntax and Basic Constructs of Javascript

Table of Contents

  • Introduction to Javascript
  • How to Use Javascript
  • Location of Javascript Codes
  • Syntax and Basic Construct
  • Conclusion

This is the part a, the next section would be part b.

Javascript

Javascript is a dynamic programming language that contains types, operators, standard built-in methods, objects and so much more. The language is used for many purposes in web development some of which include interacting with a user (e.g a user clicks a button, and a modal pops up), validating inputs (e.g when filling a form to ensure that the user fills in only required data), changing the contents in a page, sending requests to APIs and so much more.

How To Use Javascript

To use javascript in your website project, there are two main methods;

- INTERNAL JAVASCRIPT

Here, the script codes are presented in the same HTML file of which it would be used. The codes are displayed in-between the open (<script>) and close (</script>) script tags. e.g

<!-- index.html -->
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>Javascript Syntax and Basic Constructs</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <h1>Hello</h1>

    <!-- Javascript area -->
    <script>
      console.log('Hey, Javascript!!');
    </script>
  </body>
</html>

console.log might not be understood, but don't worry, we'll get to that

- EXTERNAL JAVASCRIPT

Here, the script codes are placed in another file and are simply referenced in the HTML file of which it is to be used.
For our program above, we could simply have a different file for it;

// script.js
console.log('Hey, Javascript!!');

In our index.html, we could simply replace the Javascript area with <script src='script.js'></script>.

The src attribute means source which contains the location of the javascript file we are trying to reference.

Advantages of External Javascript

  • It separates your HTML elements and codes
  • It makes your HTML files and javascript files easier to read.

- Location of the script codes or reference

Javascript codes are usually placed in the head tag (usually when the page would require some of the codes) or in the body tag very close to the close tag - </body> (usually when the codes would have to access the HTML elements). Placing codes close to the ending body tag ensures that all HTML elements are loaded before the scripts are used.

Syntax and Basic Constructs

1. Every statement should end with a semi-colon, ;

This helps the interpreter to understand that you are done with that statement. If this symbol is omitted on that statement, you may begin to experience unexpected results. The interpreter may concatenate the next statement with the previous statement. This could result in syntax error or logical error where the result would be different than expected

2. Comments

Comments, as you have seen in other programming languages or in the previous section of this series, helps users to properly document their codes. The interpreter does not interpret comments so there could be as many comments as possible in a file. They help users to remember the purpose of certain sections of their code as well as understanding them.

// This is a single-line comment, but guess what,
/*
  I am a comment that can span
  over
  multiple
  lines
  The interesting part is the interpreter does not try to execute me
*/

3. Statements

Javascript statements are instructions which would be executed by the browser, e.g

//statements
var x = 3;
var y = 7;
var z = x + y;
alert('Wow, this is an alert!!');

Every line in the program above is a statement and as stated earlier, should be ended with a semi-colon.

A group of statements is usually a file is called a PROGRAM.

4. Whitespaces

Javascript ignores whitespaces, hence our code above could be like this

//statements
var x = 3; var y = 7; var z = x + y; alert('Wow, this is an alert!!');

And it would still work fine. This is the more reason why every statement should end with a semi-colon. Breaking to the next line is just for readability purposes, the interpreter doesn't consider that.

5. Variables

Variables are like containers used for saving values. Instead of repeating a value for different uses, you could just assign it to a variable. The var keyword is used. e.g

var number = 7;
console.log(number + 15);
alert(number + 15);

Now, if we wanted to change the number to a different value, instead of going through all areas where the number was used, I would simply change the value of the number variable.

There are other keywords for assigning variables which are let and const. These keywords came up in updated javascript.

6. Operators

There are so many operators in javascript of which we would cover only a few here.

a. Arithmetic Operators

These operators are used to perform arithmetics on numbers or variables.
The operators include Addition +, Subtraction -, Multiplication *, Division /, Modulus %, Increment ++ and Decrement --. E.g

var num1 = 5;
var num2 = 6;

num1 + num2;
//returns 11

num2 % num1;
//returns 1
b. Assignment Operators

These operators are used to assign values to variables. They include =, /=, *=, %=, -=, +=. E.g

var num1 = 7;
// num1 would return 7

num1 += 9;
// num1 would would return 7 + 9 = 16

Read on more operators here

Conclusion

In this part of Javascript syntax and constructs, I believe you've been able to understand how dynamic javascript language is unlike HTML and CSS. Values can be used in different areas and can also change.

We would look into more constructs in the next section so stay tuned for part b.

You could reach out to me with any questions or contributions on twitter - @iamdillion or just leave them below in the comment section.

Thanks for reading : )

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