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ECMAScript Revision Announced - the first in ten years

7:30 pm on Apr 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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EMCAScript is the standard on which scripting languages such as JavaScript, JScript, actionscript are based. So when the EMCA makes their first proposed revisions in ten years, that's a pretty big deal.

Microsoft staffers Pratap Lakshman and Allen Wirfs-Brock were the project editors for this new proposal, and they worked closely with many organizations including Google, Mozilla, Yahoo!, Opera, and Apple.

The goal of this revision was to update the ECMAScript specification to reflect the language as it is actually implemented in modern web browsers and to establish a foundation for the future evolutions of the language.

New features include accessor properties, reflective creation and inspection of objects, program control of property attributes, additional array manipulation functions, support for the JSON object encoding format, and a strict mode that provides enhanced error checking and program security.

Many of these features standardize enhanced functionality that has been provided by individual browsers but has not yet been universally adopted.

Microsoft's JScript Blog [blogs.msdn.com]

5:39 am on Apr 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Good news!
6:03 am on Apr 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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This is great news - I've been waiting and watching for an update on this since last year, but the blogoshpere has been pretty quiet. With all the simultaneous work on 3.1 and 4, a compromised 4 nicknamed "Harmony" - and now there is no 4, but there is a 5? It couldn't be more confusing. But the numbers aren't what matters; I'm eager to sift through it.

I wonder if anyone has prepared a "diff" summary - tell me what's new in this spec so I can skip to the good parts.

For a little background, go back to August 2008:

12:24 pm on Apr 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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It certainly is hard trying to find the things you want without reading the whole thing. Somethiing a don't have time for today.

That ECMAScript has been allowed to fall behind other languages is a real pity, even if the causes are understandable. The fact is that the structure of the language has remained unfinished for over a decade. Upgrades on the Javascript side have appeared useful. Things like extra array methods. However, all they have been are superficial additions to the API. Additions that, in fact, only save the scripter from having to include their own-coded methods.

The things that continue to bug are more deeply structural. The fact that there is little sensible support for sub-typing, and (a personal bugbear) that it is not possible to denote a member as "do not enumerate". I will be pleasantly surprised if these things are addressed at all.

I have the feeling that a complete language won't appear till Javascript 2.0 for browsers, which will be so strict and rigid that they might as well have simply used Java in the first place.


The comments in the other thread are months old, I know, but I should point out that desireable methods, like document.getElementsByClassName are not the responsibility of ECMA. They would be part of the DOM API. Scriptable as Javascript, but quite arguably NOT Javascript at all.

1:37 pm on Apr 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Good point Bernard. DOM API is such an ingrained tool, it's easy to forget that it's not actually part of JavaScript. So, not dependent on ECMA, but still would be nice to have built in to all browsers, wouldn't it?

BTW, this morning Dion posted his comments:


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