The world-wide web would likely not be nearly as attractive to a world-wide population of diverse users if HTML pages just reproduced paper documents for wide accessibility in some massive on-line library. Even the ability to link from one page to others, perhaps the original motivation for the web, does not account for the web’s popularity, let alone for how quickly the nature of the web is changing the way that so many approach the acquisition of information. What makes the web so vital is that its pages are not inert, as on paper, but can be dynamic. Not only can presentation be animated, but readers can interact. A key to making this happen is scripting.

It seems no great stretch to imagine that most of the world’s programming activity is no longer directed at writing software that will, after compilation, run on a target operating system on a target machine, with the program compiled into the instruction set of that machine. The pervasiveness of the Internet brings with it a huge body of lighter programming targeted at interpretation by a web browser. I might never have paid attention, and been entirely happy about my ignorance, were it not for my own insistence that this new site must have a useful table of contents.

For Internet Explorer, the default language for scripts is JScript.

JScript is Microsoft’s implementation of the ECMAScript Language Specification (Standard ECMA-262, 3rd Edition, December 1999). Microsoft documents JScript in the Windows SDK, as one of several Microsoft Windows Script Technologies. Readers who want any sort of thoroughness are advised, strongly by me but at best indirectly by Microsoft, to get the Standard, which is readily available, free of charge and not even 200 pages long.