JavaScript 6 EcmaScript 2015 Final Approval
JavaScript 6 EcmaScript 2015 Final Approval
Written by Mike James   
Thursday, 18 June 2015

At last we have a new version of JavaScript, even if it is called EcmaScript 2015.




Standards committees work in mysterious ways and the final publication of a standard is something to be celebrated, especially as this is the first upgrade to JavaScript since 2009.

A lot of time was wasted over developing version 4, which was abandoned because there was no agreement on what changes should be made. The current standards committee seems to be doing a better job of pushing the language forward and this is promised to be the first of several quicker update cycles. Of course, calling it EcmaScript 2015 is going to cause some confusion to anyone who hasn't caught up and still thinks that it's Ecma 6, a problem made worse by the number of people who are still calling it Ecma 6!

Then there is the problem that even if Ecma is supposed to be the standard for JavaScript - it really isn't. If you want to find out what version of JavaScript a browser or anything else supports that's a tough problem. What you generally can find out is what version the JavaScript engine is and this isn't directly related to Ecma versions.

Worse is the problem that JavaScript has its own version numbering, even though it is supposed to be EcmaScript. For example Mozilla's JavaScript 1.8.5 is roughly EcmaScript 5. This numbering has stopped, but it still isn't 100% clear which JavaScript, as implemented by any engine, corresponds to which EcmaScript. What seems to have happened, for Mozilla at least is that they claim to support EcmaScript 6 in the latest version of SpiderMonkey but each new version of SpiderMonkey supports a bit more of the standard. 

At the moment all of the latest browsers support enough of EcmaScript 5 for using it not to be a problem. As to EcmaScript 6, sorry EcmaScript 2015, we will have to wait a while longer before things settle down. 

What about older browsers?

The solution is of course to use a polyfill like Babel, formerly 6to5, which provides a similar amount of support for EcmaScript 2015 to the current up-to-date JavaScript engines. This does point out that most of the changes to JavaScript are syntactic sugar - which is probably a good thing.

So we have to celebrate that the next version of JavaScript is complete - but there's another one coming down the production line any time now. It will be interesting to see how many JavaScript programmers actually move on to ES 5, let alone ES 2015. 




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