Eich: Expect more frequent JavaScript updates

JavaScript code
Credit: Flickr/Dmitry Baranovskiy

The JavaScript founder wants to develop smaller specifications that can be implemented in browsers every year


Modifications to ECMAScript, the official specification underlying JavaScript, will be made on a more regular basis than has been the norm.

At the O'Reilly Fluent conference in San Francisco on Tuesday morning, JavaScript founder Brendan Eich talked about release schedules for ECMAScript. "What we're trying to do now is get on a standard release cycle that's much faster than historic cadence," he said. The intention is to develop smaller specifications so that every year, these specifications can be implemented in browsers, Eich said.

Eich recalled that the the third edition of ECMAScript was released in 1999. "ES3 was big, and that was when Netscape was going down, so there wasn't anything after that for a while." The follow-up release, ECMAScript 4, was an attempt to work with Macromedia, then Adobe on ActionScript 3 for the Flash Player, but this effort failed, Eich said. (ECMAScript 4 was never completed.) ECMAScript 5 was finalized in December 2009 and was a "fairly conservative change to use things like strict mode," Eich said.

ES6, meanwhile, which has been finalized and slated to be published in June, is a "big one," according to Eich. Looking down the road, ES7 will support 64-bit integers, and ES8 will have capabilities like macros, according to a slide posted by Eich. He also talked about adding threads to JavaScript, saying that "the real reason to add threads is to add support of cross-compiled C++ to JavaScript."

Finally, Eich lauded the growing use of JavaScript-based technologies, including Microsoft's TypeScript, Facebook Flow, Google Dart, CoffeeScript and Babel. "I did JavaScript in such a hurry, I never dreamed it would become the an assembly language for the Web," he said.

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