JavaScript’s seemingly inexorable march toward becoming the universal language of new media recently opened a new beachhead on the Web server. With an effusion of excitement about, and profusion of frameworks for, using JavaScript for such server-side tasks as accessing databases, the homely script that started out as a love child of Netscape and Internet Explorer could end up displacing such respected languages as PHP, Python, and Ruby.

Microsoft Vice President Julie Larson-Green didn’t help matters during a demo of Windows 8, when she called HTML5 / JavaScript “our new developer platform“–freaking out legions of developers who’ve diligently learned Microsoft-only platforms from Visual Basic to C#. Will Microsoft say nyet to .NET?

Node.js has been getting the lion’s share of attention as a JavaScript server (previously mentioned on NMDnet by Craig Dietrich). Nevertheless, the field is still young; InfoWorld recently reviewed five of the leading contenders.

Apart from server code, JavaScript continues to make inroads into territory previously ruled by the likes of Flash, game consoles, and other proprietary systems. Doom and GameBoy Color have just been ported to the Web, running in a browser via JavaScript, without plugins. Other recent examples:

Smokescreen, a JavaScript-Based Flash Player

JavaScript Decoder Plays MP3s Without Flash

Beautifully Rendered Music Notation With HTML5

Breakthroughs In HTML Audio Via Manipulation With JavaScript

Imagine if you could grab and manipulate audio with JavaScript just like you can images with Canvas. Firefox experimental builds let you do just that: crazy audio visualizations, a graphic equalizer, even text-to-speech, all in JavaScript!

There’s also JavaScript-powered stick figure animations (thanks to DeviantArt’s Muro app), and eye-tracking software that changes the color and other properties of text when you read it.

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