Introduction to JavaScript

Discussion in 'Javascript' started by Charlene Russ, Dec 23, 2003.

  1. Learn on-line at your own in a user-centered format with plenty of
    interaction and personal attention.

    This is a basic level coursed designed to introduce the novice to
    intermediate computer user to the JavaScript language, and focuses on
    creating user interactivity on personal websites. This Object Oriented
    Language is known for creating a high level of interactivity with minimal
    coding, and is fairly simple to learn.

    We will begin with an overview of Javascript, describe its applications and
    compare it to other web programming languages. Flash integration with
    Javascript will also be addressed throughout the course. Topics we will be
    covering include, Incorporating Javascript into an HTML page, Simple
    Scripting, Time and Date,Data Variables,Writing Output, User Prompts,
    Working with images, Creative Scripting, Data Types, and Navigation with

    To provide the student with an enjoyable learning experience complete with
    personalized instruction.

    Course Requirements:

    Internet and Email Access
    Text Editor Such as Notepad or Textpad
    Ability to send attachments,
    or webspace to post assignments
    Netscape 6 or later
    Internet Explorer 5.5 or later

    Preferred but not mandatory

    HTML Editor ( *Dreamweaver MX has some nice features)
    Flash 5 or Flash MX
    Printer Access (printing out the lessons can be very helpful)

    Introduction to JavaScript, currently only $20 per six-week session!

    To enroll visit us on-line at:

    The Eclectic Academy
    'The Better Choice in On-Line Learning'
    Charlene Russ, Dec 23, 2003
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  2. It is an unfortunate truth that there are many poor books and Internet
    sites/pages intended to, or attempting to, teach the authoring of
    JavaScript for scripting web browsers. Many of these (probably most)
    promote practices that are out of date, unwise or actively harmful, and
    create misconceptions, misperceptions or just omit important aspects of
    the language and its application.

    It is to the comp.lang.javascript newsgroup that the victims of these
    "resources" often turn and, with that in mind, if c.l.j is to be used to
    promote a new JavaScript course it doesn't seem unreasonable to attempt
    to examine the quality of the teaching that is being offered.
    Presumably then the intended end result is to leave the student beyond
    the "intermediate" level.
    Presumably not in that order.
    So increasing the knowledge of the student is not an objective? ;-)
    You will be covering "both browsers" then?

    An attempt to asses the value of the propose course is seriously
    hindered by the fact that the only information available about the
    course on the Eclectic Academy web site has already been transcribed
    verbatim into the preceding post.

    It might have been nice to see a representative chunk of course
    material, preferably something less mundane and demonstrating some
    implementation code.

    However, in the absence of other sources of information (and to some
    extent, in any case) any organisation purporting to provide instruction
    in web authoring can reasonably be assessed by examining the
    implementation of their own web site.

    Though it would have been nice I did not expect the Eclectic Academy web
    site HTML (and/or XHTML) to validate. I was not disappointed but
    although the HTML is, in places, very bad the use of JavaScript is more
    pertinent to the current subject. So, starting with the home page:-

    <quote cite="">
    <script language="JavaScript">
    // -- hide from old browsers
    var days = new Array(7)
    days[1] = "Sun.";
    days[2] = "Mon.";
    days[3] = "Tues.";
    days[4] = "Wed.";
    days[5] = "Thur.";
    days[6] = "Fri.";
    days[7] = "Sat.";

    var months = new Array(12)
    months[1] = "January";
    months[2] = "February";
    months[3] = "March";
    months[4] = "April";
    months[5] = "May";
    months[6] = "June";
    months[7] = "July";
    months[8] = "August";
    months[9] = "September";
    months[10] = "October";
    months[11] = "November";
    months[12] = "December";

    var today = new Date()
    var day = days[today.getDay() + 1]
    var month = months[today.getMonth() + 1]
    var date = today.getDate()

    + " : " + month + " " + date)
    // -- end hiding

    The JavaScript comments:-
    // -- hide from old browsers
    - and -
    // -- end hiding
    - are quite unexpected because, not withstanding the questionable worth
    of hiding scripts from browsers so old (pre 1996?) that they would not
    suitably handle script tags, these comments will not achieve their
    stated intention.

    The rest of the code demonstrates an obvious misconception about
    JavaScript Arrays (and how they are indexed) and the inefficient use of
    the getMonth and getDay methods of the Date object to index those

    <quote cite="">
    <script language="javascript" type="text/javascript">
    if (!document.getElementById) {
    document.write('<link rel="stylesheet"
    href="n4.css" type="text/css">');
    } else {
    document.write('<link rel="stylesheet"
    href="btstyle472.css" type="text/css">');

    A page that has no other LINK elements makes the use of CSS completely
    and needlessly dependent on JavaScript and then uses object inference to
    decide which style sheet to use, basing that decision on an object that
    has no implied or real baring on the CSS support offered by the browser.
    (This falls into the category of an utterly stupid thing to be doing
    with JavaScript.)

    It is also interesting to see that this page starts with:-

    <quote cite="">
    <html xmlns="">

    - and then goes on to make a generally misguided (and erroneous)
    impersonation of XHTML, but the link elements written into the document
    by the above script are in HTML format, which is inconsistent to say the

    The next script on that page:-

    <quote cite="">
    <script type="text/javascript">

    //Popup Window Script
    //By JavaScript Kit (
    //JavaScript tutorials and over 400+ free scripts

    function openpopup(){
    var popurl="psppainting1.jpg","",
    function openpopup2(){
    var popurl2="bitmapproj.jpg","",
    function openpopup3(){
    var popurl3="vectorhouse.jpg","",

    - could hardly be clamed to make the best use of functions, defining
    three otherwise identical functions with a hard-coded URL string value
    instead of one function that took the URL as a parameter. And includes
    the usual inappropriately incautious attitude towards the use of the function, not even going to the effort of verifying that the
    browser in question implements that function.

    In context it is not really important that the functions could error in
    the face of a browser that does not implement because
    although the code that defines the three function is included in the
    page none of the functions are used on that page. So the user is
    needlessly burdened with downloading a chunk of code and the author of
    the page demonstrates that they didn't really understand what they were

    Those two pages seem representative of the other assessable pages on the

    In the absence of anything that could speak for the quality of the
    JavaScript course itself I am forced to conclude that if the course
    teaches/promotes the techniques, practices and coding style demonstrated
    at it would be positively harmful to
    exchange money for the information it provides.

    Richard Cornford, Dec 24, 2003
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  3. I totally agree, that's why I use a simple user-centered approach devoted
    to teaching a novice student the basics which he or she will need to move on
    to a more advanced level. Unlike many professors and instructors, I have a
    stake in each students success and devote all my efforts to such. The
    Introductory course will provide all students with a solid logical
    foundation so that they do not have difficulty when they move on to advanced
    scripting technique. Also in my classes, students learn high level creative
    technique using more streamlined and efficient code.

    Also, yes of course I teach both browsers, I can't imagine offering an
    interactive JavaScript course without doing so.

    Thank you for your response. :)
    Charlene Russ, Dec 24, 2003
  4. Please don't top post.
    I think the point was that "both browsers" is a concept that should
    have been dropped five years ago (or more).

    First of all, there are now significantly more than two browsers (I,
    for one, use Opera for all my browsing). There are browsers inside
    mobile phones and PDAs, and even WebTV.

    Second, and more importantly, the point should be to teach standards,
    not browsers, methods, not technology. If you know the W3C DOM, then
    all you need to know about, e.g., IE, is where it doesn't support it
    properly, and you can write code that works in all modern browsers.

    Lasse Reichstein Nielsen, Dec 24, 2003
  5. JRS: In article <7v7Gb.13998$>, seen in
    If the example quoted is typical of what you teach, ISTM unlikely that
    they will do that.

    You create arrays of length 7 & 12, and then assign, one by one,
    elements to them that make the lengths 8 & 13.

    var days = ["Sun", "Mon", "Tue", "Wed", "Thu", "Fri", "Sat"]

    is much nicer. Perhaps, though, your students expect eventually to be
    paid according to quantity of code and not by quality.

    var days = "Sun,Mon,Tue,Wed,Thu,Fri,Sat".split(',')

    is shorter, should download time be considered worth reducing.
    Dr John Stockton, Dec 24, 2003
  6. IMO, this isn't where a course should start with. The first step would be to
    learn how to explain what an array in JS is, the second step should teach
    how to create arrays from an instance of the Array object followed by an
    overview of alternative methods.

    Apart from this, I think a course should not be judged by the code of the
    website it is advertised on. It is well possible that the webmaster's
    expertise isn't JavaScript but this doesn't mean that he or she has
    followed one of the classes to gain basic knowledge.

    Another thing is that it's in general not a very good idea to promote
    trainings in programmer newsgroups, because a lot of programmers have the
    tendency to look down on anything that doesn't follow their own pattern of
    thinking. But I think by now, Charlene will realise that ;-)

    Let the flaming begin....

    Janwillem Borleffs, Dec 25, 2003
  7. Charlene Russ

    Eric Bohlman Guest

    "Both browsers"? There are at least five families of browsers in
    widespread use, and within each family there's widespread variation in
    their support for various host-dependent features of Javascript.
    Eric Bohlman, Dec 25, 2003
  8. JRS: In article <3fea31d4$0$196$>, seen in
    This is not where the course is starting.
    Surely one does not create an array from an instance of the Object; it
    already is an array, albeit empty on creation. IMHO, where there is an
    efficient way of doing something, it should be shown, although not
    necessarily explained, when said something is first discussed - too many
    students follow only the first method in the course or book.

    A Webmaster should be capable of accepting code from an expert; and a
    teacher should be an expert in what he or she teaches, at least in all
    the material that the course remit can cover. Who would buy a suit from
    an ill-dressed tailor?
    Dr John Stockton, Dec 25, 2003
  9. IE, Gecko, Opera, KHTML, and ... ?
    What's the fifth? (Is it for Macintosh, I don't know enough about

    Lasse Reichstein Nielsen, Dec 25, 2003
  10. Charlene Russ

    Eric Bohlman Guest

    Miscellaneous browsers (many of which don't support scripting, though) for
    Windows and at least a couple for Macs (including the Mac version of IE,
    which is a completely different product from the Windows version).
    Eric Bohlman, Dec 25, 2003
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