Empowered by Javascript

by May 28, 2005

Time to dig out the Rhino book because Javascript is getting lots of attention by powering exciting Web development. Make a Dashboard widget, rewrite Amazon’s Web pages, or enable desktop-like interactions online. Javascript makes it happen:

Apple’s Dashboard Widgets

Based on Web Kit technologies, Dashboard Widgets are created using a mix of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. If you know how to create a web page, then you know how to create a capable Widget. JavaScript in Dashboard works the same way as it does in any browser with the single addition of the widget object, which gives you the ability to:

  • Access to the user preferences system.
  • Perform transition, such as resizing the size of a Widget or flipping it over to access preferences.
  • Respond to Dashboard activation events.
  • Open other applications.
  • Handle drag-and-drop operations.
  • Retrieve content from the Internet using URLs.
  • Execute system commands, such as shell scripts or command-line tools.


Ajax enables faster, more responsive Web applications through a combination of asynchronous Javascript, the Document Object Model (DOM), and XMLhttpRequest. What this means for Web interface designers is that a DHTML-based Web application can make quick, incremental updates to a user interface without reloading the entire screen. In the AJAX model JavaScript calls to the server can update a single element in the UI with data retrieved from a server.


Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows you to write “user scripts” that alter the Web pages you visit. A user script is just a chunk of Javascript code, with some additional information that tells Greasemonkey where and when it should be run.

Recent Javascript Resources