First JavaScript tutorial

This assignment takes you through an introduction to JavaScript, and culminates with these questions on Gradescope:

Note that all of the answers to the questions are embedded in the tutorial material below, plus the tutorials linked to below.

Getting Started with JavaScript

To get started with JavaScript, we’ll do a few exercises that are not connected with any web browser at all; just exploring JavaScript as a programming language.

While JavaScript was originally developed to be a scripting language for web browsers, with the introduction of Node in 2009, JavaScript began to be used outside of web browsers.

So, we’ll use node as our tool to interact with JavaScript.

Step 1: Getting Started with Node

In this section, there are some exercises that I encourage you to work through.

There is nothing for you to turn in. But if you skip over them, you may find that you are stuck on some of the later steps. These are each here to help you understand something you need later in the assignment.

I encourage you to read through this section, try the examples for yourself on CSIL or you own machine, and experiment with the code.

Step 1.1: Finding the node REPL

On CSIL, you can type node to enter a REPL (Read/Eval/Print Loop) for JavaScript. If you have node installed on your local machine, this will likely work there as well:

[pconrad@csilvm-03 ~]$ node
Welcome to Node.js v17.4.0.
Type ".help" for more information.
> 2 + 3
> "ucsb".toUpperCase()
> const schools=["UCSB","UCSD","Stanford"]
> schools.length
> schools[0]
> schools[2]
> schools[3]
[pconrad@csilvm-03 ~]$ 

To exit the node REPL, use Control-D.

Step 1.2: Hello World in JavaScript.

The “Hello World” program in JavaScript would look like this. Put this in a file called hello.mjs:

console.log("Hello, World!");

The m in mjs stands for Module. It allows us to use the import statement, and avoids errors such as following that we may get if we try to use import in a file that ends in plain old .js:

SyntaxError: Cannot use import statement outside a module

You’ll see later on that we don’t need the .mjs extension when working with front-end code in our web-apps; this appears to just be a standalone node thing. But we’ll keep it for now.

To run it, you can type: node hello.mjs:

[pconrad@csilvm-03 ~]$ cat hello.mjs 
console.log("Hello, World!");

[pconrad@csilvm-03 ~]$ node hello.mjs
Hello, World!
[pconrad@csilvm-03 ~]$ 

Step 1.3: Getting command line arguments

As you may know:

What about JavaScript under node.js? In this case, we access command line arguments thorugh the process.args.

Executing this one line program will show us how this works:


Let’s try passing in three command line arguments:

[pconrad@csilvm-03 try-node]$ node args.mjs foo bar fum
process.argv= [

As you can see:

Step 1.4: Classic for loops in JavaScript

The classic for loop in C/C++ and Java both is:

  for (int i=0; i<n, i++) {
     // do something with i

Let’s use a JavaScript for loop to print all of the command line arguments. Note that in place of int we have let.

Let’s put this into loop.mjs and try running it with and without command line arguments:

for (let i=0; i<process.argv.length; i++) {
  console.log("process.argv[" + i + "]=", process.argv[i]);

Here’s what it looks like when we run it:

[pconrad@csilvm-03 try-node]$ node loop.mjs foo bar fum
process.argv[0]= /usr/bin/node
process.argv[1]= /cs/faculty/pconrad/try-node/loop.mjs
process.argv[2]= foo
process.argv[3]= bar
process.argv[4]= fum
[pconrad@csilvm-03 try-node]$ 

Step 1.5: JavaScript string interpolation

Let’s focus on this line for a moment:

  console.log("process.argv[" + i + "]=", process.argv[i]);

There’s an easier way to write this using a feature called string interpolation. In any string that is delimited with backticks instead of double quotes, we can insert values by putting a dollar-size followed by an expression in braces, like this:


Same result, but much easier to read the code.

Try modifying your loop.mjs code in this way and run it again.

Step 2: A Basic JavaScript tutorial

Please read though this JavaScript tutorial:

Also read these shorter tutorials on specific topics:

As you read, here are a few things that you should be looking for.

These are questions that you need to be able to answer

  1. Does JavaScript have different types for integer and floating point numbers? Explain your answer.
  2. How do you convert a number in a string form (e.g. “123”) to a numeric form?
  3. How do you find the length of a string in JavaScript?
  4. What does it mean to say that a value is “truthy” or “falsy” in JavaScript?
  5. When declaring a variable in JavaScript you can use let, const or var. What is the meaning of each of these?
  6. A line of code that you’ll sometime see in JavaScript takes this form: x = y + ''; i.e. adding an empty string. What is the purpose of adding the empty string?
  7. What are two ways to create an empty object in JavaScript?
  8. Object properties in JavaScript can be accessed with both dot notation and bracket notation.
    • Give an example of a JavaScript statement that initializes the variable student to refer to an object representing a student with a name of “Chris Gaucho” (as a string) and a perm number of 1234567 (as a number)
    • Show how to print the name field using console.log accessing the name field using dot notation
    • Show how to print the perm number field using console.log accessing the field using bracket notation
  9. Write the JavaScript function equivalent of the following Java method. (Note that you will not be able to restrict the type of parameters in plain JavaScript; that is possible in TypeScript, but let’s not go there yet. Just a plain JavaScript function that takes two numbers and returns their product is fine.)
    public static double product(double a, double b) {
      return a * b;
  10. Consider the product function in the previous question.
    • In Java, if you call it with no parameters (double x=product();) that’s a syntax error. What happens in JavaScript?
    • In Java, if you call it with three parameters (double x = product(2,3,4);) that’s a syntax error. What happens in JavaScript?
  11. Using the rest parameter syntax (...) write a JavaScript function productAll that can take any number of parameters, and produces the product of all of its parameters (returning the multiplicative identity 1 if there are zero parameters).

    For example:

    • productAll() would return 1
    • productAll(3) would return 3
    • productAll(3,2) would return 6
    • productAll(3,2,5) would return 30
    • productAll(3,2,5,7,10) would return 2100
    • etc…
  12. In addition to the traditional for loop that resembles the C/C++ and Java for loop, i.e.

    for (let i=0; i<n; i++) {
       // do something with i

    JavaScript also has a for ... in and a for ... of loop. Give an example usage of each and how they are different from each other.