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Is the future of JavaScript ECMAScript 4?

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The discussion on the future of ECMAScript has been quite lively lately. Brendan Eich kicked off a flurry of posts about ECMAScript 4 and if that is the right path.

ECMAScript 4 is the next version of the standard which is implemented as JavaScript and JScript. With the publication of an overview of ECMAScript 4 Eich, the creator of JavaScript, has pushed forward the question of how will we get JavaScript to ECMAScript 4. While work on ECMAScript 4 is progressing, there are many who are unhappy with the specification, arguing that it is too much, too fast, and fails to address some of the critical issues of the language today.

After publishing the overview, Eich beat up on Microsoft for their lack of participation in the debate. That sparked a response from the JScript team at Microsoft, who are consolidating a list of all known divergences of JScript from the specification, as well as the generally accepted behavior of JavaScript. Microsoft believes that ECMAScript 4 is too big of a jump and Chris Wilson, Platform Architect for IE detailed his personal thoughts as well.

Douglas Crockford, a well respected JavaScript expert at Yahoo!, has reservations as well:

There are a lot of people who feel that JavaScript sucks, and are hopeful that the proposed language will suck less. My concern is that it may suck more. If new language is able to prove itself, then it may earn adoption. But it should not be standardized and displacing stable technology until it is proven.

Ajaxian has compiled several posts on the subject and even Dave Thomas has written about version 4:

Just browsing through the wiki shows a language which has prototypes, classes, multi-methods?, static types, dynamic types, etc, etc. This reminds an old guy like myself of other large design by committee languages such as PL/I, Algol 68 and ADA. These ambitious efforts all had smart people involved in the design and implementation but were unfortunately far too complex and came to the market too late. JS is intended to be a language for the people, not another language that only technical wizards can understand. If you are an Ajax developer or care about dynamic languages I suggest that it is time for you to speak up and help put ECMAScript 4 on a much less ambitious path than is currently being charted. Less is truly more when it comes to languages.

Keep up with the future of JavaScript here at InfoQ.

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