What it is

Javascript is a loosely typed, interpreted general purpose programming language in the C family. Though it is used for a wide variety of applications, such as Node.JS on the backend, it is most famous for being the exclusive programming language supported by web browsers for powering web apps.

It has a few distinguishing features, such as it's prototypal inheritance and ...strange rules for type coercion that many criticize it for being an ugly language, but it’s popularity speaks for itself. It is also known as ECMAScript, and has evolved gradually over the past few years, with new versions such as ES2015, ES2016, and ES2017 adding new language features like promises and arrow functions.

Why it matters

For this reason, it is the most popular programming in the world. Using javascript is unavoidable if you want to work in web development, which a majority of developers do.

How to learn it

As with any language, if javascript is the first language you learn, you’ll be splitting your brain power between learning the syntax and particularities of javascript itself along side learning how to actually program in general. In addition, many learning methods simultaneously teach web technology like HTML & CSS at the same time.

This can be hard because it is a bit like trying to learn to write a poem while simultaneously learning the alphabet. It is easier to start from the basics and work up.

There’s endless resources out there for learning javascript, but my favorite starting place for a beginner is the book Eloquent Javascript, which is available for free online with embedded widgets that you can use to practice.