Javascript -vs- VBScript, pros and cons compared

Yes, this sounds like an all-too-familiar “Intro to Web Scripting” class or article, but I haven’t actually seen these more advanced scripting topics compared before, so I wanted to nail it down in print. 

feature Javascript VBScript
Object-Oriented: Very powerul and easy to create custom object classes Now supported with version 5+ CLASS construct, but is comparatively less powerful and syntax is much more verbose
Object-Based: More object-based, wraps core functionality in intrinsic objects like Date, Math, Number, String, and Array Less object-based, dumps functionality into global functions
Optional procedure arguments: Supported Not supported! (hence kludgy workarounds)
Getter/Setter properties: Not supported! (yet?) Supported
Dialog/User-input support: None built-in, depends on the current object model (e.g. window.alert/prompt/confirm, or WScript.Echo/popup). Has powerful native Msgbox and Inputbox functions.
Convenience tools (aka synactical sugar): Few (escape/unescape?) Plenty (Explicit Conversions, Formatting, Dates, Strings)
Date Manipulation: Difficult (hence the need for a Javascript Date library Easy (see convenience tools)
Leftovers/Quirks:
• Has ternary operator (e.g. var foo= true ? 'bar' : 'grep';
• No ternary operator and no IIF function like VB (but a custom IIF can be added).
General strength Powerful, more “nuts&bolts” Easy-to-learn, more common functionality built-in
General weakness Some common tasks are much too inconvenient Verbose, disorganized, weak OO capabilities
key:
good 
bad 
eh..

Yes, of course it’s my opinion, based on experience (and frustration!)  Feel free to proselytize me otherwise, but back it up!

My perspective is this: scripting languages are about convenience — quickly whipping out something that works, is readable, and is maintainable.  If you want perfect academic code, or fastest performance, get another tool!  For scripting languages, the less code and reference to accomplish a task, the better.

Interestingly, different scripting languages reach convenience by different routes.  For example, where VBScript chooses a “simple” route of a bunch of unorganized global functions, Javascript groups them as methods of intrinsic objects.  Normally I prefer simple, but Javascript’s better organization makes me more efficient: I don’t have to remember 90 or so distinct global functions — if I can simply remember the object (Date/Array/whatever), then I’m set, because VS.net’s Intellisense will help me quickly find the method I need without cracking a reference.

(Aside about Intellisense: it reminds me of the tabs -vs- spaces debate: I say tabs all the way.  Any decent code editor should be able to display tabs how you like.  Fewer characters to store/send, and less arrowing around pays for itself.  And yes, a coder should be using a decent code editor!)

To be clear, I favor neither VBScript or Javascript as a rule — each has its time and place (goal of this chart).  Ideally, I’d like to marry them for the best of both.  Both Classic ASP and WSCs can use both in the same context, which rocks.  Too bad ASP.net lost this feature, but it matters less since it now runs full-fledged programming languages.

Finally, for entertainment, here’s a hilarious thread on the “JS-vs-VBS” subject.  My favorite quote: “IF JScript was a movie, it’d be Citizen Kane, or The Shining. VBScript would be the Mariah Carey movie, or possibly ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees.”

Update: added ternary/IIF note to chart ‘leftovers’.

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2 Responses to Javascript -vs- VBScript, pros and cons compared

  1. Rob Eberhardt says:
  2. Victor says:

    I can not simply understand the reason why MsgBox is present in VBScript edition, and abscent in JavaScript edition of <a title="" href="http://msdn.microsoft.com/scripting/&quot; ><acronym title="Windows Scripting Host">WSH</acronym></a>. Is it really so VBScript specific that it is not possible to use that sort of function in JavaScript?
    <br>
    <br>There are some other similar questions about inconsistency and lack of meaningful explanation for these dirty tricks microsoft devlopers played with us.
    <br>
    <br>p. s. Windows Must Die! Indeed

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