Oh, and Nick Heinle was 17 years old! There’s something very 90s about teenage developers leading the way with web scripting (you may recall Matt Wright from a previous post, the high school student who ran a popular CGI scripting directory).
In the cookies article, Heinle pointed out that the “most prevalent code out their [sic] is Bill Dortch’s.” Having said that, Heinle wanted to write his own functions.
Another Dortch creation from 1996 was ColorCenter, which allowed the user to dynamically adjust the colors inside a browser window.
After explaining the basics, Heinle then showed a variety of coding techniques to control a layer:
The complex animation effect that Heinle illustrated was an image moving across a web page, from bottom to top:
He goes on to show how you can do even trickier animation on a web page using the layer object. The chapter is short, but practical. You can see why the book was fairly popular in 1997 and going into 1998 — Heinle’s writing style is engaging without ever being wonky, and the diagrams and code examples supplied are excellent visual guides to working developers of that time.
Heinle ends the chapter with this line, which I’d happily nominate as a motto for web developers of all eras:
“If this sets your head “spinning,” don’t worry: a few minutes of experimentation and this will quickly come into focus.” [page 175]
Brendan Eich Moves On
At the same time, Eich was being influenced by other web trends happening around him — such as the rise of Python as a scripting language. He later wrote:
“JS1.0 in 1995 was under Perl influence; JS1.2 in 1997 fell more under Python influence.”
Programming theory is beyond the scope of this website, but it’s worth noting that Python is well regarded for its conciseness and ease-of-use. On the other hand, Perl’s best known motto is “There’s More Than One Way to Do It” — implying that it’s not so easy to decide how to use it!