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Modern JS: Tools of the Trade

Whether you like or dislike javascript, the good parts are quite good and javascript patterns can make it easier to write sophisticated apps that are also readable and maintainable. One of the more recent trends in JS is a movement toward micro libraries. A good resource for that is Alas, there’s no such thing as CPAN for browser-based javascript, but I think this is a good start at organizing the useful libraries that exist on github and elsewhere.

On one of my recent projects, I wanted to implement the pub/sub pattern on some objects, but instead of writing the code myself or reaching for a heavyweight library just for event functionality, I instead found microevent.js via microjs, a mixin that adds the ability to make any object an event emitter. In total, the library is just 20 lines of plain-old-javascript that anyone can understand.

These are some other tools and services that I’ve found very useful:

  • JSHint (successor to JSlint): lints code and also useful for enforcing a common style on a project with multiple developers.
  • RequireJS: a library that aims to make dependency management more sane in javascript. This is based on AMD.
  • Jasmine: a library for doing unit testing (BDD).
  • JSDoc: for documenting javascript, kind of like Javadoc. Docco is also gaining in popularity, although I haven’t used it myself.
  • Lodash/Underscore: Lodash is a fork of underscore.js that I’ve been using, although they both serve the same role: they facilitate a more functional-style and provide common utilities that every JS dev needs, whether they know it or not, although as Brain Lonsdorf points out, there’s more to functional programming.
  • JSPerf: this is a popular benchmarking service for JS and helps answer performance-related questions. Very useful.
  • JSfiddle: great service for testing out javascript and sharing it with others.

I’m sure there are some others that I’ve missed, and I’d like to hear about them!

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