The REAL Secrets of JavaScript Libraries

Posted in Web

I must be slacking off: SXSW has already started and I still haven’t penned the “come to my panel” post. So here it is.

On Tuesday, I will be sharing the mic with several brilliant individuals whose feet I am not qualified to wash: Sam Stephenson, Thomas Fuchs, John Resig, and Alex Russell. To drive home how high the bar is: I will be the only person on that stage who has not written his own enormously popular JavaScript library.

We’ll be revealing the secrets of JavaScript libraries. To my dismay and disappointment, the “secrets” to be shared will include nothing scandalous. We will drop no dimes. We’ll simply talk about how you can use some of the techniques we employ as problem‐solving strategies in your own code.

It’s a shame, too, because I have a whole lot of dirt on my colleagues. I’d been saving it up for my gigantic, Zed Shaw–like “fuck you guys, I’m outta here” blog post (tentatively scheduled to happen ~18 months from now), but I can’t let this opportunity slip by.

Are you ready, Internet? Here are the real secrets of JavaScript libraries:

  • Sam Stephenson has a reputation for being reclusive and mysterious, disappearing from IM and mailing lists for weeks at a time. Not true! He simply has crappy DSL service at home. The contract he signed with the phone company has a guarantee of only 5% uptime.
  • The Dojo Toolkit got its name in 2004 when Alex Russell was inspired to write 6,000 lines of JavaScript after watching The Karate Kid, Part II on TNT.
  • At the risk of undermining our efforts, I must reveal that the Prototype developers have been lobbying the ECMAScript 4 working group to introduce several new characters as valid to use in identifiers: £, ¢, and . We need more currency symbols with which to name functions.
  • John Resig has murdered people. No, seriously.

    Actually, I suppose that doesn’t count as a secret about JavaScript libraries. So… oops. Sorry, John.

  • When Jon Snook stopped using Prototype exclusively, and started experimenting with Mootools and jQuery, I cried for a week. Then I cut him out of all my photographs, removed his RSS feed from my reader, and moved on. (But I still pretend there is no such place as “Canada.”)
  • The human you know as “Douglas Crockford” does not exist. He began as an anthorpomorphized straw‐man: we created a web site, placed interesting content therein, but added a controversial and/or nonsensical article every so often so that one of us could post a masterful rebuttal on his personal blog. The whole thing was an elaborate scheme to drive up traffic and make ourselves look good.

    When people started taking these writings seriously, and invited Crockford to speak at conferences, we hired an actor to assume the persona. In other words: Doug Crockford is to the JavaScript community as Tony Clifton was to Andy Kaufman. So if someone comes up to you, extends his hand, and says, “Hi, I’m Doug Crockford,” play along! You’ll be participiating in a subersive ruse!

See you on Tuesday, folks. Assuming I haven’t been assassinated by then.