Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ECMAScript Harmony

There's been a lot of buzz about recent events in Ecma TC39 since Brendan Eich made his announcement of ECMAScript Harmony resulting from the seminal Oslo meeting last month. Some of the public discussion has been so misleading I won't even link to it. I've been getting a number of questions from friends and colleagues, asking if it's true that we've stopped working on ECMAScript Edition 4. I'm giving them all the same answer: don't believe the hype!

As an invited expert, I try to avoid politics. But from my perspective, the Harmony effort is promising to be a great development for the technical quality of the ECMAScript standard. Both sides of the split in the committee have good technical points to make and I've longed for more cooperation. Now we have much more cooperation, and the language design is improving for it.

As for the future of ECMAScript Edition 4: whatever name gets attached to it, the work on improving and standardizing ECMAScript continues apace. We'd already deferred static types for potential future work well before the Oslo meeting, and as part of the Harmony effort we dropped some of the more questionable aspects of the proposed ES4, most notably namespaces. These were not pure political concessions but in fact good technical decisions. (I'll blog about this separately.) The proposed language is changing all the time, but reports of ECMAScript's death have been grossly exaggerated.

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