Pro No installation required
Pro Runs on both the browser and the server
Pro Instant gratification
Pro First-class functions with lexical closures
Pro Easy to build an application
By using the UI capabilities in HTML and CSS you can develop substantial applications with graphical interfaces more quickly and with less effort than in other languages which would require you to learn a windowing library.
Building a useful application is one of the best ways to learn a new language and because of the low learning curve for creating applications you can create more substatial programs and learn more practical programming priciple faster.
Pro Massive ecosystem
Pro Prototype based Object Oriented System
For example, in a prototypical language, you think of a rectangle, and define it. You now have a rectangle. Let's say you want a red rectangle, you copy the rectangle and give it the property red. Want a blue one? Copy rectangle again give it a blue. Big blue rectangle? Copy blue rectangle and make it big. In a class-based language, first you describe a rectangle, describe a red rectangle as a type of rectangle, describe blue and big blue rectangles, and now that you have described them, you must create instances of them, and only then do you have the rectangles. Essentially: Classes are factories for objects, prototypes are objects themselves, and the latter method was created to be more intuitive, which is particularly advantageous to beginners.
Pro Several Platforms to use the web stack and JS to create multi-platform apps
Opens the door to native application development as well as just websites. Use with React Native, Weex or Quasar (Vue), PhoneGap or Cordova, NativeScript... (etc) to build native apps. Use mostly the same code base for multi-platform and web.
Pro Extremely popular
Con Easy to accidentally use globals
If you forget a
Con Does not teach you about data types
Con Limited standard library
Much often needed functionality is not in the standard library. (Contrast with Python.) However, there are well established libraries such as Lodash, to fill the gap (however, due to the diverse/fractured ecosystem it may not be clear what library to use).
Con Each browser has its own quirks when executing the same code in some cases
Beginner programmers often make the mistake of coding something, seeing it works in the browser they tested it in, and then scratching their heads when it doesn't work in another browser. Ideally you'd want a language that works consistently across all platforms in order to be able to focus more on the programming and less on the underlying environment. It just takes time away from learning and forces you to spend time figuring out why this worked in browser X but not browser Y.
Con The `null` and `undefined` objects aren't really objects
Therefore, attempts to call methods on them will fail. This is especially frustrating since these are often returned instead of throwing exceptions. So a failure may appear far away from the actual cause, which makes bugs very hard to find.
Con Dependency on browser developer(s)
This works in Chrome and IE:
And this works in FireFox and Chrome and IE:
You're also unable to use some of the less-popular CSS3 features in one browser versus the other. Can't give a detailed list due to ongoing development.
Con No "clear choice" frameworks/libraries
The closest JS gets (IMHO) is jQuery for consistent DOM api. From libraries to fill the hole left by no comprehensive standard library (eg: lodash, underscore, ramda, functionaljs, sugar, core-js, stdlib, locutus, or the N implementations of range or pad on npm), to front-end frameworks (angular, aurelia, vue, react, ember, polymer, etc), and everything in between; the JS ecosystem is hugely diverse and there is rarely a "major" library or framework for a given purpose.
This is overwhelming for a new user. While diversity is good, at least having a major/primary library/framework for a given need/use is highly desirable for a "learn this first"language in order to be productive and focused (not to mention finding fast and accurate help from the community).
Con Counter-intuitive type conversion
3+5; // 8; "Hello "+"world"; // "Hello world"
+ with a string and a non-string operand, the non-string operand is converted to a string and the result is concatenated:
"the answer is "+42; // "the answer is 42" "this is "+true; // "this is true"
In any other case (except for Date) the operands are converted to numbers and the results are added:
1+true; // = 1+1 = 2; null+false; // = 0+0 = 0;