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ECMAScript: Learn It Better and Preview Its Future

02.17.2012
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Recently I discovered the annotated and hyperlinked ES5 refererence, which is pretty cool in itself. The hyperlinked grammar summary, for example, is infinitely easier to use than the corresponding section of the official spec, which is a non-hyperlinked pdf ('see clause 7', augh! versus 'see clause 7', whew).

One huge step for ECMAScript spec readability, to be sure; but the document is still huge, and hyperlinking within a huge document can get cumbersome quickly. Two levels of link-clicking, for example, will easily disorient you, especially if one of your target anchors is not far from another, in which case you might accidentally scroll past your previous anchor and forget where 'back' will go..

So a dynamic reference, for a document of this size and complexity, would be more useful still.

No such reference exists for ES5, as far as I know. But three days ago Casimir Pohjanraito posted a call to action on WeekendHacker, requesting web dev (and design) volunteers to dynamify the annotated reference, and personally offering to coordinate the effort. This shouldn't be too tricky a project to develop, and the payoff -- much easier ECMAScript spec reading, and consequently greater, more widepread understanding -- would be significant. (Effective design might be harder. But that's for Casimir and his cadre to figure out.) Besides, you'd learn a lot more about the language spec, if only by facing its intricacies for hours at a time.

Meanwhile, if you're less interested in the knowledge and more in the practice, take a look at the Chrome dev channel, which implemented some new Harmony features this week.

The Chromium blogpost announcing the new features mentions specifically:

  • Lexical scoping
  • Collections
  • Weak maps
  • Proxies

Some of these are more exciting than others (weak maps are my personal favorite), but any implementation of the next version of ECMAScript is worth checking out

So brush up on your ES5, help others understand it more easily, and taste the future of the language that keeps gaining importance as browsers become more and more the platform of the future.