JavaScript Syntax

JavaScript can be implemented using JavaScript statements that are placed within the <script>... </script> HTML tags in a web page.

You can place the <script> tags, containing your JavaScript, anywhere within your web page, but it is normally recommended that you should keep it within the <head> tags.

The <script> tag alerts the browser program to start interpreting all the text between these tags as a script. A simple syntax of your JavaScript will appear as follows.

<script ...>
   JavaScript code
</script>
The script tag takes two important attributes −
  • Language − This attribute specifies what scripting language you are using. Typically, its value will be javascript. Although recent versions of HTML (and XHTML, its successor) have phased out the use of this attribute.

  • Type − This attribute is what is now recommended to indicate the scripting language in use and its value should be set to "text/javascript".

So your JavaScript segment will look like −

<script language = "javascript" type = "text/javascript">
   JavaScript code
</script>

Your First JavaScript Code

Let us take a simple example to print out "Hello World". We added an optional HTML comment that surrounds our JavaScript code. This is to save our code from a browser that does not support JavaScript. The comment ends with a "//-->". Here "//" signifies a comment in JavaScript, so we add that to prevent a browser from reading the end of the HTML comment as a piece of JavaScript code. Next, we call a function document.write which writes a string into our HTML document.

This function can be used to write text, HTML, or both. Take a look at the following code.

<html>
   <body>   
      <script language = "javascript" type = "text/javascript">
         <!--
            document.write("Hello World!")
         //-->
      </script>      
   </body>
</html>

This code will produce the following result −

Hello World!

Whitespace and Line Breaks

JavaScript ignores spaces, tabs, and newlines that appear in JavaScript programs. You can use spaces, tabs, and newlines freely in your program and you are free to format and indent your programs in a neat and consistent way that makes the code easy to read and understand.

Semicolons are Optional

Simple statements in JavaScript are generally followed by a semicolon character, just as they are in C, C++, and Java. JavaScript, however, allows you to omit this semicolon if each of your statements are placed on a separate line. For example, the following code could be written without semicolons.

<script language = "javascript" type = "text/javascript">
   <!--
      var1 = 10
      var2 = 20
   //-->
</script>

But when formatted in a single line as follows, you must use semicolons −

<script language = "javascript" type = "text/javascript">
   <!--
      var1 = 10; var2 = 20;
   //-->
</script>

Note − It is a good programming practice to use semicolons.

Case Sensitivity

JavaScript is a case-sensitive language. This means that the language keywords, variables, function names, and any other identifiers must always be typed with a consistent capitalization of letters.

So the identifiers Time and TIME will convey different meanings in JavaScript.

NOTE − Care should be taken while writing variable and function names in JavaScript.

Comments in JavaScript

JavaScript supports both C-style and C++-style comments, Thus −

  • Any text between a // and the end of a line is treated as a comment and is ignored by JavaScript.

  • Any text between the characters /* and */ is treated as a comment. This may span multiple lines.

  • JavaScript also recognizes the HTML comment opening sequence <!--. JavaScript treats this as a single-line comment, just as it does the // comment.

  • The HTML comment closing sequence --> is not recognized by JavaScript so it should be written as //-->.

Example

The following example shows how to use comments in JavaScript.

<script language = "javascript" type = "text/javascript">
   <!--
      // This is a comment. It is similar to comments in C++
   
      /*
      * This is a multi-line comment in JavaScript
      * It is very similar to comments in C Programming
      */
   //-->
</script>

 

JavaScript syntax is the set of rules, how JavaScript programs are constructed:

var x, y, z;          // How to declare variables
x = 5; y = 6;      // How to assign values
z = x + y;         // How to compute values

JavaScript Values

The JavaScript syntax defines two types of values: Fixed values and variable values.

Fixed values are called literals. Variable values are called variables.

 

JavaScript Literals

The most important rules for writing fixed values are:

Numbers are written with or without decimals:

10.50

1001

Strings are text, written within double or single quotes:

"John Doe"

'John Doe'

 

JavaScript Variables

In a programming language, variables are used to store data values.

JavaScript uses the var keyword to declare variables.

An equal sign is used to assign values to variables.

In this example, x is defined as a variable. Then, x is assigned (given) the value 6:

var x;

x = 6;

 

JavaScript Operators

JavaScript uses arithmetic operators ( + - * / ) to compute values:

(5 + 6) * 10

JavaScript uses an assignment operator ( = ) to assign values to variables:

var x, y;
x = 5;
y = 6;

 

JavaScript Expressions

An expression is a combination of values, variables, and operators, which computes to a value.

The computation is called an evaluation.

For example, 5 * 10 evaluates to 50:

5 * 10

Expressions can also contain variable values:

x * 10

The values can be of various types, such as numbers and strings.

For example, "John" + " " + "Doe", evaluates to "John Doe":

"John" + " " + "Doe"

 

JavaScript Keywords

JavaScript keywords are used to identify actions to be performed.

The var keyword tells the browser to create variables:

var x, y;
x = 5 + 6;
y = x * 10;

 

JavaScript Comments

Not all JavaScript statements are "executed".

Code after double slashes // or between /* and */ is treated as a comment.

Comments are ignored, and will not be executed:

var x = 5;   // I will be executed

// var x = 6;   I will NOT be executed

 

JavaScript Identifiers

Identifiers are names.

In JavaScript, identifiers are used to name variables (and keywords, and functions, and labels).

The rules for legal names are much the same in most programming languages.

In JavaScript, the first character must be a letter, or an underscore (_), or a dollar sign ($).

Subsequent characters may be letters, digits, underscores, or dollar signs.

Numbers are not allowed as the first character.
This way JavaScript can easily distinguish identifiers from numbers.

 

JavaScript is Case Sensitive

All JavaScript identifiers are case sensitive

The variables lastName and lastname, are two different variables:

var lastname, lastName;
lastName = "Doe";
lastname = "Peterson";

JavaScript does not interpret VAR or Var as the keyword var.

 

JavaScript and Camel Case

Historically, programmers have used different ways of joining multiple words into one variable name:

Hyphens:

first-name, last-name, master-card, inter-city.

Hyphens are not allowed in JavaScript. They are reserved for subtractions.

Underscore:

first_name, last_name, master_card, inter_city.

Upper Camel Case (Pascal Case):

FirstName, LastName, MasterCard, InterCity.

 

Lower Camel Case:

JavaScript programmers tend to use camel case that starts with a lowercase letter:

firstName, lastName, masterCard, interCity.

 

JavaScript Character Set

JavaScript uses the Unicode character set.

Unicode covers (almost) all the characters, punctuations, and symbols in the world.