What is JavaScript?

You use it almost every time you browse the web, but what exactly is JavaScript?

Tech companies are great at making whizz-bang products that make our lives easier. But they also excel at making jargon to confuse us.

Thankfully, we're here to cut through the tech terms and explain what they actually mean. So what exactly is JavaScript?

[Read more: What's inside your computer?]

What is JavaScript?

You may not realise it, but you use JavaScript pretty much every time you browse the web.

JavaScript is the most popular form of language used for programming within web pages, and is commonly used for creating interactive elements such as polls and quizzes.

JavaScript also allows web developers to create elements such as pop-up windows, and it's JavaScript which allows text or an image to change when you roll over them with your mouse.

JavaScript first came about in 1995 with the release of the Netscape Navigator 2 beta web browser. Today, JavaScript is widely supported by the majority of web browsers.

JavaScript

Do I need to install anything to use JavaScript?

No. JavaScript is built into web browsers, so there’s nothing extra you have to download to enjoy the benefits.

How do I turn on JavaScript?

JavaScript should be activated by default. If it’s not, you can activate it by doing the following for these browsers:

Google Chrome: Settings > + Show advanced settings > Content settings… > Allow all sites to run JavaScript (recommended) > Manage exceptions…

Internet Explorer: Settings > Internet Options > Security > Custom Level… > Active Scripting > Enable

Firefox: Type about:config in the address bar > click I accept the risk > search for javascript.enabled in the search bar > if it says ‘false’, click to make it ‘true’.

Is JavaScript the same as Java?

No. JavaScript and Java are both programming languages, but despite their similar names are not the same thing. They do, however, share some of the same ideas, and are used to add extra functionality to your web browser.

Java has to be installed separately onto your machine unlike JavaScript which is built into your web browser.

[Read more: What is a computer virus?]