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There are two main facets to interactivity - whether your frontend (Javacsript, HTML, CSS) is programmed to behave dynamically based on events and on any other preprogrammed behavior, and based on what information your server can send and receive and compute for the benefit of your frontend. For the former (a dynamic frontend) you'll need to use Javascript (or Typescript) in some form. For the latter (a server with custom behavior and data endpoints beyond just sending static HTML etc. files), any of the major languages can serve this purpose. However, if you are going to create a dynamic frontend with Javascript and don't know that language at all, then learning it will be a task in itself, and without knowing a backend language well either (probably the case with only two semesters of one language a while back), you ideally don't want to also have to learn a whole other backend language on top of that. That's where NodeJS comes in. It has essentially the same exact syntax as frontend Javascript (just different native libraries). Since you already need to learn Javascript to make the frontend behave dynamically, if you also want a custom backend, NodeJS will spare you a big learning curve on top of the existing learning curve of learning JS. NodeJS is also highly performant for low-compute high-volume requests, i.e. handling a large barrage of requests if each doesn't require a lot of complicated behavior on the backend. A lot of coding bootcamps teach this, commonly called "full stack JS", for this reason - it allows someone to learn a constellation of full stack web development skills from the mastery of one language syntax. NodeJS + ExpressJS is also one of the easiest backend languages + REST API library to use to build a backend. Look up "NodeJS Express Hello World", and you'll be shocked at how easy it is to build a basic server. As far as frontend frameworks go, if this project is very limited in scope, JQuery could be fine, but I'd highly recommend learning React for something more involved - it will be immensely easier to manage and maintain, and generally lends itself to much better and more intuitive code organization. Its use of components will also be somewhat familiar and intuitive from the object oriented programming you learned through Java. Create React App is great tool to use, especially when first learning React, to avoid all of the finicky nonsense in configuring transpilation etc.

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