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Introduction to JavaScript

What is JavaScript?

  • It is an object-based scripting language developed by Netscape to add interactivity and power to Web documents.
  • It is interpreted by the Web browser when the Web Page is downloaded or when another event occurs.
  • JavaScript can be used to create dynamic effects (live clocks, rollover effects, form validations, etc.) or fully functional "Client side" programs (Programs that run on the end-user's computer).

Why learn JavaScript?

  • With HTML, you are restricted to creating static, non interactive Web pages. This, in today's Internet standards, is unacceptable.
  • With JavaScript, you can create interactive Web pages.
  • JavaScript differs from most other programming languages in that it is relatively easy to master, even for people who have no programming experience.

What's the difference between Java & JavaScript?

  • Java, C++, C and JavaScript have some basic syntax in common (like if statements, for loops etc.).
  • However, Java is completely different from JavaScript
    • It's a lot more powerful, more complex, and unfortunately, a lot harder to master.
    • It allows you to create more complex Objects (Object-oriented vs. Object-based).
    • You need to compile Java programs before you can run them. In JavaScript, no compilation is needed. Open a text editor, type the code, save it, and your browser can run it!

Can JavaScript programs run on Netscape & Internet Explorer browsers?

  • Unfortunately, not necessarily. JavaScript  was created by Netscape, and JScript was created by Microsoft (they are both referred to as "JavaScript").
  • They are very similar but things can run differently in different browsers.
  • A good rule to follow is to always test your codes using both browsers before uploading it onto the Internet.

Defining JavaScripts

  • Every script begins with an opening <SCRIPT> tag to indicate to the browser that the text that follows is part of a script.
  • The language attribute specifies the scripting language: <SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript">
    • Both JScript & JavaScript are referred to as "JavaScript".
  • Each script ends with a closing script tag:  
  • Scripts can be defined either in the HTML document header or within the body of the HTML document.

For Example:

<title>Sample JavaScript</title>
<script language="JavaScript">
   document.writeln('<h1>Hellow World</h1>');

JavaScript Objects

  • JavaScript is "Object based" in much the same way that VisualBasic is:  JavaScript has predefined Objects and uses standard browser objects.
Objects Properties Methods
document bgcolor, title, lastModified write(), writeln()
window status, location, parent alert(),confirm(),prompt()
Math PI, E abs(), max(), sqrt()
text name, value blur(),focus(),select() 
More JavaScript Objects

JavaScript Effects

Status bar messages

  • Using JavaScript, you can display messages in the status bar of your browser below.
  • This is accomplished by setting a string value to the "window.status" property.
  • For example you can display a message when the page first loads:
<script language="JavaScript">
   window.status = "Welcome to ISM 411 & JavaScript"
  • Status bar messages can also be initiated only when the user moves the mouse over a link:


<a href="" 
  onMouseover="window.status='Click for Yahoo!';
  return true" onMouseout="window.status=''">
<!--Single ' for passing string to JavaScript-->
  • The mouse's "position" is captured using the onMouseover and onMouseout event handlers of JavaScript.
  • Event handlers are added directly inside certain HTML tags  allowing code to react to an event.

On-the-fly text

  • Text inside a HTML document is static (the same every time you reload the document)
  • JavaScript allows you to generate text on the fly. You could, for example, have the document greet you "Good morning" in the morning, and "Good night" at night.
  • The basic way to write out text in JavaScript is by using the document.write(), or the document.writeln() methods, as follows:
<script language="JavaScript">
    document.write('<font color="green">');
    document.write('<h3>Some text');
  • The document.write() method writes what is in the parentheses directly to the screen.
  • The document.writeln() method adds a new line at the end of the statement (in HTML code not in displayed document).
  • You can create script that writes out the current date:
<script language="JavaScript">
  var today=new Date();
  document.write('<h2>'+ today +'</h2>');
  • The text  reflects the date and time your page was downloaded is updated automatically whenever you refresh your page.

JavaScript: Dialog Boxes

  • JavaScript dialog boxes are "pop-up" boxes that can be used to display a message, ask for confirmation, user input etc.
  • The three basic types of dialog boxes in JavaScriptare: alert, confirm, and prompt:


<script language="JavaScript">
   window.alert('Welcome to ISM411');


<script language="JavaScript">
  var answ=confirm('Go to CNN?');
  if (answ)


<script language="JavaScript">
  var answ=window.prompt('Enter name');
  window.alert('Hello' + answ);


  • A Variable is an Identifier that refers to a chunk of computer memory.
  • Variable names can only consist of letters, numbers, and the underscore ( _ ) and must begin with a letter (x3 is a valid name but not 3x).
  • Java is case sensitive: Upper and lower case characters are different (Total, total and TOTAL are considered to be three different variables).
  • Java keywords are words that have special meaning in the Java language. You should not use them as variable names. 
  • Variables need to be declared before they can be used.
  • All variables are declared using the var command.
  • Variables may be given an initial value when they are declared (This is called initializing the variable).
  • General form:
  • var variable [ = initialization];

        var number1, number2;
        var string2 = "cow";


  • Arithmetic
  • Relational
  • Logical
  • Increment and Decrement
  • Assignment
  • Conditional


addition   + 
subtraction  - 
multiplication  * 
division  / 
modulus  % 
  • Examples of arithmetic expressions:
        3 + 7 (evaluates to 10)
        2.5 + 7.5 (evaluates to 10.0)
        12.6 / 2 (evaluates to 6.3)
        17 % 3 (evaluates to 2, the remainder after 17 is divided by 3)
        "A" + "BC" (evaluates to "ABC")


less than <
less than or equal to <=
greater than >
greater than or equal to >=
equal to  ==
not equal to !=
  • A relational expression, such as a == 10, evaluates to 0 or 1 depending on the whether it is FALSE or TRUE.
  • Equivalency versus assignment...


not  !
and &&
or ||
  • The negation operator ! changes an expression's value from zero to non-zero or vice-versa.
  • Boolean names may be defined using symbolic constants && and ||
  • Logical operators combine logical expressions.  Evaluation stops as soon as the truth-value is determined

Increment and Decrement

increment ++
decrement --
  • Pre- and post-increment (decrement) operators perform the operation before (after) use.
  • a++ is the same as a = a + 1


  • Types:
    •   =, +=, -=, *=, /=  and  %=
num += expr;
  // is equivalent to
num = num + expr;


Operators Associativity Type
()  left to right parentheses
*  /  % left to right multiplicitive
+  -  left to right additive
< <= > >=  left to right relational
==   !=  left to right equality
= += -=  *= /= %=  right to left assignment

Example: + (Addition and String Concatenation!)

  • The + operator is an addition operator when both of its operands are numbers. It is a concatenation operator when one of its operands is a string. 
  • Every expression including a string operand yields a string. 
  • JavaScript's interpreter evaluates expressions from left to right, and only parentheses can change the order of evaluation.
8 + 8 // 16 
"8" + 8 // "88" 
8 + "8" // "88" 
"8" + "8" // "88" 
8 + 8 + "8" // "168" 
"8" + 8 + 8 // "888"Why is it not 816??
  • What would the following code output (a=5 & b=10)?
  • document.write('a + b');          ______
  • document.write(a + b);            ______
  • document.write('a' + b);          ______
  • document.write('a+b = ' + a+b);   ______
  • document.write('a+b = ' + (a+b)); ______

External JavaScript Files

  • External JavaScript files allow the use of JavaScript code in many pages at once. 
  • External JavaScript files are TEXT files ending with the .js extension. They contain multiple JavaScript Functions (next week we do functions) that can be called from any page that references them.  
  • To link to an external JavaScript file, you need to add a script tag that links to the external file inside the head section of your html document: 
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript" SRC="../scripts/sample.js"></script>