Within one year, Microsoft had added JScript to Internet Explorer. The language was functionally identical — quirks and all — but named differently to avoid Sun trademark issues.
The language had some early competition from Microsoft VBScript in Internet Explorer, but that never stood a chance while Netscape Navigator remained the top browser. (Strangely, VBScript was the most-used language in server-side ASP even though JScript could also be used.)
Then came the dark ages.
- The emergence of Firefox (Phoenix) in 2002. Netscape open-sourced their browser code and started the Mozilla project in 1998. The old codebase was abandoned for the Gecko rendering engine which first appeared in the bloated, buggy and slow Mozilla Suite. Firefox was an experimental standalone browser which quickly became popular with developers because it was better than the aging IE6 and offered superior debugging tools which culminated in the revolutionary Firebug.
- The rise of Ajax in 2005. XMLHttpRequest had been introduced by Microsoft in 1999 but few developers exploited it. Jesse James Garrett’s article Ajax: A New Approach to Web Applications gave us a cool buzzword which made us re-consider the possibilities.
- Google Maps (2005) and Gmail (2004). Google was creating cutting-edge Ajax projects before the term was conceived. We now had a buzzword and some great examples to assess the potential.
- The introduction of client-side libraries. Projects such as Prototype, script.aculo.us, Mootools and jQuery smoothed over browser inconsistencies and made development easier.
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.
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