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MS, Mozilla Clashing Over JavaScript Update

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the minor-frustration-of-the-titans dept.

Mozilla 521

jfruhlinger writes "JavaScript has become a crucial part of Websites built on AJAX underpinnings, which makes the upcoming revision to the ECMAScript standard crucial for the future of the Web. But in today's browser environment, no one vendor can impose an update path — which may set things up for a nasty conflict. A fight is being fought on blogs between Mozilla Chief Technology Officer (and creator of JavaScript) Brendan Eich, who wants to the new ECMAScript standard to be a radical upgrade, and Chris Wilson, architect of MS's IE team, who would rather keep JavaScript as is and put new functionality into a brand-new language."

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521 comments

Either way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215381)

A fight is being fought on blogs between Mozilla Chief Technology Officer (and creator of JavaScript) Brendan Eich, who wants to the new ECMAScript standard to be a radical upgrade, and Chris Wilson, architect of MS's IE team, who would rather keep JavaScript as is and put new functionality into a brand-new language

Either way, we're gonna need a bigger bug list.

Re:Either way... (3, Interesting)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215419)

Maybe this is a naive question, but why isn't a third-party standards organization leading the way on this? I know that W3C didn't do a great job standardizing HTML (as any web developer who has spent hours debugging IE vs Mozilla can attest), but ANY standard is better than no standard here. Where's NIST or ANSI? I hate to even suggest that the US government get involved, but setting some kind of standard could avoid another Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD wasteful standard war that hurts consumers and developers. Everyone would be better off if this conflict could be avoided entirely. What would it take?

Re:Either way... (4, Interesting)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215461)

Yeah, design by commitee always works out so well! Seriously, third party standards bodies are only good at post-facto. Don't rely on them to innovate. I say IE and Mozilla battle it out, release the product, and may the best man win. Once a winner is reasonably clear, then the standards bodies can get in and write it in stone.

Re:Either way... (3, Insightful)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215551)

I say IE and Mozilla battle it out, release the product, and may the best man win.
Unfortunately, if that happens, the best man won't win. Firefox doesn't have NEARLY the market penetration required to actually stand toe to toe agains IE in something like this. Thats why there are "standards" out there that nobody complies with; because IE doesn't.

There needs to be a third pary arbitrator here.
And hopefully that arbitrator tells them all to just STFU up and use python :).

Re:Either way... (2, Insightful)

DanielJosphXhan (779185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215657)

And the languages won't win either. Javascript will stall at its currently supported version as people strive for cross-compatibility.

Re:Either way... (2, Informative)

sarathmenon (751376) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215619)

For once, someone at Microsoft gets the deal right. They should leave javascript as-is, and improvise XUL or whatever is the new buzzword. Tacking on updates to existing standards only creates ugly security loopholes, and all sort of weird hacks. Why, in the name of the lord, can't people learn from the mistakes that others have made?

Re:Either way... (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215921)

They should leave javascript as-is, and improvise XUL or whatever is the new buzzword.
Well, to quote Wikipedia (euh...), XUL is "an XML user interface markup language developed by the Mozilla project for use in its cross-platform applications, such as Firefox. The only complete implementation of XUL is the Gecko [Mozilla] layout engine."

So I can't see MS having anything to do with it, unless there's some convoluted plotting going on.

I love designing to multiple standards (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215669)

The catch is that in order to take advantage of the new language features, developers will potentially have to do twice as much work. Already JavaScript's event model varies between browsers. In my ideal world there'd be a single language and all modern browsers would support it fully.

Re:Either way... (1)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215675)

That's what's already happening. Even if a standard is published it's usually ignored. The problem is that Microsoft now has the huge majority and can do pretty much whatever they want. If my web app breaks when the next IE comes out you better believe the site will be made compatible, whether I like it or not.

So your plan for winner-take-all is nice in theory, so long as you don't complain when Microsoft wins because they can muscle their way into a de-facto standard.

Re:Either way... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215679)

Yeah, design by commitee always works out so well! Seriously, third party standards bodies are only good at post-facto. Don't rely on them to innovate. I say IE and Mozilla battle it out, release the product, and may the best man win. Once a winner is reasonably clear, then the standards bodies can get in and write it in stone.

Oh, fa! I hope not. Microsoft's idea of innovating is to take what someone else has done and make it incompatible, or write their own stuff and ram it down our throats.

Making stuff work on more than one browser platform can be a pain in the ass enough as it is. For once, I wish they could set out goals in advance. Of course, I'd be naive to believe that would actually ever happen.

Unfortunately, Microsoft also has the goal of entrenching their stuff as a 'standard' and only people willing to pay them money will be able to play. They have the industry's worst case of NIH that has ever existed. They're sure as hell not going to implement improvements to Javascript that are being pushed by someone from Mozilla. They're certainly not going to choose an implementation that Mozilla can do for free; they're simply incapable of doing *that*.

If it hadn't been for the fact that HTML was already in use before they came along to the browser market, I'm sure they'd have long since put forth their own version of it.

Cheers

Re:Either way... (2, Informative)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215983)

Are you nucking futs? At what point in the history of MS have they done anything that was relatively useful to the end user if it was not Ultimately useful to MS in isolating end users from choice?

Not because I just want to bash MS, but they earned this one fair and square.

I'm not against a company wanting to innovate and improve their product in order to be the best in class, but that is not what MS is famous for. Their innovations have been purchased (nearly a 100 startups left to buy now) and they do not strive to be best in class with any kind of success (can I mention Vista here?). Even when a workable open standard is proffered up, MS has to do their own version in order to isolate end users from choice (can I get a hell yeah for ODF?). We 0nly have to look at the difference between standards based web browsers and IE to see that MS has no intention of doing anything that is actually good for the world unless it benefits MS (can I mention the bill and melinda foundation and OLPC?). MSIE was, and will continue to be a tool for MS to attempt to remain dominant on the desktop. By virtue of business mentality, it must also always be used to isolate the end user from choice. That is simply how big business in the US of A works.

I believe that it's simple dumb luck that we don't have to buy tires from the manufacturer of the vehicle we own. Sure, there is more to it, but think about how valuable the car analogies really are. Do we really want Nissan or Ford or VW designing the roads? Your driving experience depends on your choice of vehicle, and choice of roads. If we all drive MS cars and truck, using MS tires, on MS designed roads... where will the choice be?

Re:Either way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215469)

Maybe this is a naive question, but why isn't a third-party standards organization leading the way on this?
What, like ECMA? What do you think "ES4" in TFA stands for?

Re:Either way... (3, Informative)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215525)

ECMA International [ecma-international.org] is a group that writes standards.

Re:Either way... (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215975)

ITYM rubber stamps them.
 

WTF is ITYM? (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216099)

ITYM?

What's that short for?

Re:Either way... (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216077)

"ECMA International [ecma-international.org] is a group that approves standards, but isn't as widely accepted as ISO."

Fixed that for you.

Lately, they've also been known for the large amount of Microsoft standards passing through them, such as C# and OOXML.

Re:Either way... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215581)

Maybe this is a naive question, but why isn't a third-party standards organization leading the way on this?


For the most part, standards organizations don't lead all that much, they, at best, referee, and their decisions are typically preceded by just this kind of jockeying by interested parties.

Where's NIST or ANSI?


There is a reason the standardized language is called ECMA [wikipedia.org] Script, and not NISTScript or ANSIScript.

Re:Either way... (1)

n2art2 (945661) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216003)

What would that take????

Think Communism.

It works great on paper, but then you add the human element.

It's a Shame to See Them Fight (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215385)

But they got along so nicely the last time Microsoft [maebrussell.com] invited the Mozilla Developers [hesfes.co.uk] over for a trip to the factory [slashdot.org] !

Oh, I hope this doesn't sour their play time together [slashdot.org] !

What's this new language (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215429)

Let me guess, the new language the MS goon wants is named something like:

MSScript or IEScript or All Your Browsers are belong to Us Script

And I'd bet he wants to base it on the CLR too.

Flash-bashing equivalent (-1, Troll)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215441)

[/. Flash-bashing mentality]JavaScript is evil! It's used to make ad windows pop up and annoy me, therefore the technology is bad! I use a pop-up blocker though, so that nasty horrible JavaScript won't get its hands on me.[//.Flash-bashing mentality]

Re:Flash-bashing equivalent (1)

snoyberg (787126) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215503)

I know you're joking around, but if you really think Javascript is the problem, then just disable it. Much more effective than a popup blocker.

Re:Flash-bashing equivalent (3, Informative)

Kandenshi (832555) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215647)

I know it's somewhat indicative of a tinfoil hat, but that's basically what I and many others do, using NoScript [mozilla.org] .
If I trust the website enough to run javascript, then I add it to my whitelist. I don't see the need for javascript on most of the pages I go to, and would rather not have my computer running unnecessary code. Seems to my totally uneducated POV that it'd slow my computer down if I have 20 tabs each running javascript stuff, when only 2 of them ACTUALLY need it. My RAM is precious to me. =(

Re:Flash-bashing equivalent (1)

snoyberg (787126) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215751)

Huh, I hadn't realized that NoScript has a whitelist feature. That sounds like a good approach actually. Obviously I want Javascript working on a place like GMail, but I don't need accordian boxes everywhere, much less the insidious popups. Thanks!

Re:Flash-bashing equivalent (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215855)

Well done. Congratulations.

You are the 50000th moron to post about NoScript. EVERY fucking slashdot article that even MENTIONS JS, some random moron (like yourself) has to pop up to tell us how great it is.

Well done, bravo. For fucks sake, WE KNOW. Pat yourself on the back while 90% of websites you don't trust break, then feel smug as you whitelist the 30th site that broke that day, without even looking at the JS code you're whitelisting.

Yea, you're cool, you're hip. You've got noscript. YOU DA MAN.

Re:Flash-bashing equivalent (2, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216079)

Did you know that in Opera you can right click on a web page, select Edit Site Preferences and disable Javascript, or just disable the features the site abuses. No extension needed! And it runs perfectly fine on older machines since it doesn't leak memory like sieve like certain competing browsers. It's also free and cross platform just like them.

And it has fewer vulnerabilities -

http://news.softpedia.com/newsImage/Internet-Explorer-vs-Firefox-vs-Safari-vs-Opera-3.png [softpedia.com]

Plus since it has a tiny market share it's very unlikely anyone will bother to target it.

go ahead and do that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215715)

Go ahead and try just random surfing with JS disabled, it is horrid. Half the sites out there now are mostly unusable with JS turned off. I keep trying, and keep having to go back and turn it back on. It just *sucks*. I wouldn't mind if the so called web "masters" would provide a more basic implementation of their sites as an option, but most don't. Hell, they can't even be assed enough to provide alt image tags. And those all flash sites, what a serious PITA. Now some sites offer options and it's great, want an example, how NASA runs their domain, they give you three options, full blinkenlight scripted flashing pulsating bloat down to basic text only. That's how it should be. Trying being on dialup with perhaps an older machine and surfing, or say for the folks with accessibility issues, without the option for low res non scripted content, it walls off half the net and it is getting worse daily, and that is leaving out all the ongoing horrid javascript exploits that keep occurring. Frankly, we won't ever have anything close to a more secure web as long as these "masters" insist on using active content. Even slashdot here doesn't quite "get it", turn off JS and you lose the ability to reply to the main thread. You can reply to replies, but not to the main article.

Re:Flash-bashing equivalent (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215825)

You wanted to be funny, but I do agree with you somewhat. Javascript adds unnecessary size to a lot of web pages. Why, for example, is it necessary to use javascript to cause the browser to follow a link? Or to refresh a page? I haven't seen many particularly novel web sites that actually justify the amount of javascript that is out there. I should be able to browse the web on a 9.6K connection without waiting 5 minutes for 100kb of javascript to load for less than 10kb of content.

Re:Flash-bashing equivalent (1)

vtscott (1089271) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216043)

Why, for example, is it necessary to use javascript to cause the browser to follow a link? Or to refresh a page?

I find it incredibly annoying when links are done in javascript. When I follow a link, I usually middle click on it so it opens in a new tab. With javascript, if I try to open the link in a new tab all I get is a blank page. More bloat and less convenience... *insert offtopic slashdot snipe about how this could also describe windows vista*

How about starting over from scratch? (2, Insightful)

parvenu74 (310712) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215989)

Javascript, like HTML, has grown to handle tasks it was never envisioned or intended to do when it was first created, and that has tremendous implications in the security space (cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery, etc). Why not just scrap the HTML and Javascript specs and start over with something designed with security in mind from the get-go? Swapping Javascript for Python or Ruby only means that we get to write/deal with exploits with more syntactical sugar. Let's fix the darned problem once and for all.

Why not both? (1, Insightful)

magisterx (865326) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215457)

It seems they could both radically improve javascript and add in support for additional scripting languages. It would come at the price of increasing the size of the browsers, but that seems a small price to pay for the increased flexibility for developers.

Re:Why not both? (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215477)

By "flexibility", you mean "use javascript or MSVbActiveFlashScript"?

Re:Why not both? (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215593)

My thoughts exactly. Unless M$ goes patent crazy and disallows anyone from adding compatibility for their new language, the browsers could just support two new languages. And to be fair, neither should call it "JavaScript".
Of course most developers would only use one, but that's fine.

Re:Why not both? (4, Insightful)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216025)

So you think that while right now we have partial and buggy implementations of one scripting language in most browsers, when we have two new additional scripting languages we'll have two well-supported, to-the-spec implementations of the two new languages in most browsers?

Re:Why not both? (1)

hey (83763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215645)

They are only talking about an upgrade to javaScript ... to EC4.
It only makes sense for all browsers to support it.

Re:Why not both? (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215649)

I would be curious to see how then radically improved JavaScript while at the same time kept it backward compatible with the old version. If it is that different then it might as well be another language. Dual code paths for browsers with the new version installed and those without.

M$ probably want something a bit like C# which they have some control over while the others want to keep the old name but put it on something a bit less clunky. Perhaps we could have the VBScript v Javascript battle all over again.

Re:Why not both? (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215653)

It would be interesting to have more possibilities for scripting languages... I imagine developers could do some neat things having client-interpreted Lisp or Haskell... PHP and/or perl/ruby could be popular choices as well. What do you all think?

On the other hand, I would really hate to start seeing VBScript used in webpages.

Ug. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215953)

Javascript is intentionally designed to be less functional than any of the languages you've mentioned, and with good reason...A client side language with the sort of feature set that perl or ruby or python has would be death on a plate in the context of a modern web browser; you'd go to a webpage and it wouldn't just slip you a trojan--it'd reinstall your OS.

Client side languages need to be concerned purely with the cosmetics of the interface. Any single step beyond that opens up some extremely scary security concerns.

Re:Why not both? (1)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216081)

You'd hate to see VBScript but you are OK with PHP... Funny that.

Re:Why not both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215655)

Because now you're even more bogged down implementing functional requirements... content... for even more differing technologies.
I am using GWT to remain productive in the scripting worlds. Really like it, give those guys a break so they don't have to code Javascript crazyness like tax software makers when new tax laws come out.

But then... what ever happened to Java applets? Perhaps it's time to break those out again because they work regardless the platform.

Re:Why not both? (3, Insightful)

apt142 (574425) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215759)

Screw two languages. I'd love to have one language that actually works on all the browsers. Javascript as it's implemented by Microsoft is worlds different from any implementation outside of it. It's only by hacking together the common bits between the implementations that web pages are actually capable of working on multiple browsers.

Re:Why not both? (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215815)

yeah, why not a plugin architecture with the equivalent of a shebang line? I'd love to use perl for my client side browser stuff (i'm actually serious about that, realizing full well that it wouldn't be widely used, but I can dream :)

Seriously? (2, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216041)

You want to give a website the ability to run client side perl?

Considering the amount of havok that is caused using javascript, a language that can't even actually write to a file, I can't even imagine the chaos that would be caused by perl, with all of it's methods for reading system states, and manipulating files and output devices.

Re:Why not both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21216037)

Brendan Eich's claim is that non-OS-bundled browsers can't afford the increased browser size resulting from two VM engines. Particularly, he says, mobile devices cannot afford this increase in browser size.

If you're in there futzing with the code why not.. (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215491)

agree on using and implementing the same HTML and CSS standards. What? Never in a million years? OK, there's your answer for fixing/replacing JavaScript.

About Silverlight? (5, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215507)

Opera's Haarvard suggests that it's about Silverlight [opera.com] , and Microsoft trying to close the web. Mozilla, Opera and others are pushing to extend open web technologies, but Microsoft is saying, wait, the web doesn't need to be extended at all! Well, except with Silverlight and WPF...

Re:About Silverlight? (1)

EvilRyry (1025309) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215577)

That's exactly what I was thinking, if I had mod points I'd mod you up. By keeping JavaScript back, they're also pushing Silverlight forward.

Re:About Silverlight? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215791)

Um, no. Silverlight is an add-in, just like flash. JS really doesn't enter into it much.

Personally I think they should move to something new, for the sole reason to make a strongly typed scripting language. No more of that crap where you misspell a property and boom, you've added a new one by mistake.

Re:About Silverlight? (1)

ednopantz (467288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215927)

I think it is both: Obviously if Javascript becomes less of a horror show to work with, Silverlight becomes less necessary.

Even if it helps MS, I want Javascript to die, die, die. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go back to writing my 900-line "add a week to a given date" function in Javascript.

Re:About Silverlight? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215755)

sounds about right, my thought when I read this was:

Microsoft: "hmm, we failed at 'Extinguish' with HTML and JavaScript... We need a new weapon."

Re:About Silverlight? (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215763)

I would bet big money on that.
I would love to see a good javascript replacement. I don't like javascript and find it kind of nasty to write in. I just don't want it to be under the control of Microsoft, Apple, or Adobe.

Don't worry too much (1)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215887)

Of the three companies you mentioned, Microsoft is the least closed. Especially with regards to SilverLight, it looks like a new standard is being defined and broadly accepted. On that one, I would give high props to MS.

And for those interested, Silverlight will be legal on Linux.

Re:About Silverlight? (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215899)

I would like to see a replacement as well. The obvious choices would be something like PHP or Python, maybe even Ruby. On the other hand, a functional programming language could be really interesting...

Re:About Silverlight? (1, Insightful)

Spiked_Three (626260) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215831)

"Opera's Haarvard suggests that it's about Silverlight [opera.com], and Microsoft trying to close the web. Mozilla, Opera and others are pushing to extend open web technologies, but Microsoft is saying, wait, the web doesn't need to be extended at all! Well, except with Silverlight and WPF..."

Insightful? Come on, that's rubbish. It is a simple minded microsoft bash with no basis in fact or reasoning, and yet it gets moderated insightful.

Silverlight is not about competing with Javascript at all. It's about bringing robustness to web apps. It's about being slightly compatible with desktop apps in code. Those are things that current web technologies, even with AJAX, can not do. Silverlight is about competing with adobe flash, which by the way is way ahead of microsoft at the moment for the robust web app space, so why did you choose to bash Microsoft and not adobe? Never mind, we know the answer.

Mozilla, opera and other pushing to extend open web technologies? Please .... how does a fight between what version 2 of something is named have anything to do with extending open technologies? You are throwing around buzzwords to make yourself sound smarter (and some moderators fall right for it). Microsoft is saying we have a standard, we have products that are written to that standard, and it will be expensive to supercede that standard with a replacement. They have no objections to something new, just dont break the old.

Re:About Silverlight? (2, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216045)

You are throwing around buzzwords to make yourself sound smarter (and some moderators fall right for it).

By "you," are you referring to me, the person who summarized something that I thought was an interesting take on the issue, or to Haarvard, the person who actually made the assertion and discussed it in detail?

Re:About Silverlight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215995)

It's obvious that this is exactly what it's about; Microsoft are trying to destroy Tamarin and promote their own proprietary crap. If they displace javascript, they deal Adobe a blow and put themselves in a position of power over web technology. This cannot be allowed to happen, we've already seen IE stagnate once MS gained the upper hand.

On a related note, I don't understand why Microsoft are being still being allowed to participate in serious standards committees. If they can't have their own way they act like a spoiled child and attempt to disrupt the process. It's utterly pathetic.

Re:About Silverlight? (5, Insightful)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216065)

Microsoft is saying, wait, the web doesn't need to be extended at all! Well, except with Silverlight and WPF

Those are actually Brendan Eich's words. The extended commentary from which that comes is over here [mozilla.org] .

MS do indeed want to close the internet, and the name of the game is "patent encumberance." It's going to be too hard to lock up JavaScript, so they don't want to play with that anymore. They need to have everyone investing in a new MS-proprietary, patent-encumbered language.

Multithreading! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215517)

If they're serious about turning the browser into an application platform, there needs to be a multithreaded language with full DOM access, whether that is Javascript or something else. An application where the UI stalls the processing or the other way around is just not acceptable. Since Javascript multithreading has been rejected before, because it's supposedly too difficult for the typical script author, I suspect that Microsoft may have the right instinct here to go with a separate language for "pros", keeping Javascript simple for things like mouse rollovers and other eye candy.

Re:Multithreading! (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215725)

While that would be pretty neat, something like a Java or Flash solution is already available. Or, you know, writing a desktop app... Or, perhaps in-browser JavaScript interpretors could start optimizing a page's scripts to be multi-threaded with no changes to the language. I'm not sure how feasible that would be though.

Re:Multithreading! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215851)

Mozilla has a contender in the "web app" arena: Prism. That's what this is basically about. Adobe, Microsoft and Sun have their own ideas and products for web based applications. To say that one should use Java or Flash simply means to discount Mozilla's chance entirely (which I won't object to, if they neglect basic API and language requirements).

Re:Multithreading! (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215969)

While I wasn't saying those solutions should be used (just could be used), I hadn't heard of Prism. Here's a link [mozilla.com] FWIW. It's a fairly interesting concept.

Re:Multithreading! (3, Insightful)

soliptic (665417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215803)

Disclosure: I am a web developer, but my use of javascript extends only as far as your "simple things like rollovers". (Well, not actually rollovers, that's done in CSS unless you're an idiot, but...) I am not a "proper" Developer. Hence, this genuine question:

To solve the problem of "the UI stalls the processing or the other way around" (which, funnily enough, I only ever really encounter right here on Slashdot), why would the script language need to provide multithreading to the script author (typical or otherwise).

Surely you could solve that particular issue by running Firefox-itself code in one thread, and on-page-javascript-or-whatever-script in another thread (or perhaps one thread per .js, or per site, or per tab, or whatever). You wouldn't need to actually let the script writer work in multiple threads, would you?

Re:Multithreading! (5, Interesting)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216101)

Surely you could solve that particular issue by running Firefox-itself code in one thread, and on-page-javascript-or-whatever-script in another thread (or perhaps one thread per .js, or per site, or per tab, or whatever). You wouldn't need to actually let the script writer work in multiple threads, would you?

Yes, you would. The basic reason is that while, conceptually, you're right that you could use your solution to prevent the browser from locking up, you'd still have to worry about the page locking up.

JavaScript code is generally only executed during events. These events include relatively minor things like scrolling, clicking, typing, or basically any form of interaction with the page. Now you could make the page code "smart" and avoid locking the page if there are no JavaScript event handlers interested in the current event, but you'd still potentially have issues where the page would essentially "freeze" until whatever long-running task completed. Since JavaScript events also fire when the page is unloaded, such a "freeze" could also prevent the user from navigating away from the page.

This leaves us with a potentially responsive browser UI, but a tab that can't be used until its task completes. This is still better than the Firefox situation (and, due to the way Firefox is designed, something that isn't going to change in Firefox for a long while), but still undesirable.

To allow the page to remain responsive while the page is doing some long-running task, you'd have to allow multiple threads so that the event handlers could run.

This is, in a way, the problem that "asynchronous" part of AJAX solves. It doesn't allow another thread to be run via script, but it does allow the page to send the task back to the server to execute, allowing the page to remain responsive while whatever long-running task completes.

I think a similar solution could work via JavaScript: instead of sending it off to the server, allow a script to be executed asynchronously. It would have no access to any information not sent to it when it was started (as otherwise the thread synchronization issues would remain), but it could run a task and then return a result.

There can be some argument over whether JavaScript should ever be used for a "long-running task" but the reality is that more and more web applications are finding that it makes sense to allow certain tasks to run on the client instead of burdening the servers. Most clients have the memory and CPU to spare, and it makes sense to use those resources instead of making the bottle-neck be the server.

Unfortunately the current solutions cause the page to become non-responsive while JavaScript executes and, in the case of poorly designed browsers, cause the entire browser to be non-responsive.

Re:Multithreading! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21216103)

Web applications themselves have a UI (expressed in HTML, SVG, etc.) and processing code (loading data from the server, sorting, formatting, calculations, whatever). If you want to avoid UI stalls, you have to break up the processing into small chunks and return control to the UI frequently. Javascript has no support for doing that in the middle of a task, let's say in a for loop. You have to finish the function call, which means you have to manually keep track of the fragments that you have processed and the fragments that still need to be processed, and often the efficiency is horrible because you have to make the fragments really small so that the UI stays responsive even on slow machines. That is much worse than back in the days of cooperative multitasking. At least then you could relinquish control and have the OS remember where you left off (and user interfaces would still stall because the programmer misjudged the time it would take to do something before he offered control to another task).

Re:Multithreading! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21216021)

And still a typical script author won't be able to use the multithreading feature of the new language. Heck, s/he may even not know or won't learn the new language. So, what's the difference between that and JavaScript modification that allows multithreading. The bottom line is, if you want to use multithreading, don't be lazy and learn how to code for it.

As far as Microsoft goes, forgive me for being skeptical. I see them wanting to create a new language simply because they want to control the new language, like how they went with .NET and C#. It's not the instinct to make developers' life easier that governs Microsoft, it's the control to help them perpetuate their monopoly that does.

To me, this seems vaguely pointless for browsers (4, Insightful)

cmowire (254489) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215527)

By the time that a good chunk of all browsers actually support ECMA 4, it's going to be a "nice to have" feature that nobody's going to be too keen on.

The road forward, in true hacker fashion, is probably to write translators so that part of your PHP, Ruby, Perl, Java, or C# code magically runs on the client, treating ECMA 3 as a vague intermediate language.

ECMA 3 can be the x86 assembly language of teh intarweb. No CPU actually executes real x86 instructions anymore, they translate it into internal RISC/VLIW-ish operations. Very few programmers write much of any raw x86 instructions anymore.

Of course, this may or may not be handy for the other ECMAScript implementations like LiveScript.

Re:To me, this seems vaguely pointless for browser (4, Insightful)

Metaphorically (841874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215699)

Well that's what GWT, OpenLazlo et al do already anyway. The thing is you can't get all the features of the underlying language that way. The key is to making the source language so much better than Javascript that my complaint sounds like saying "the problem with C++ is that you can't get all the features of assembly." (And I mean within the source language, not with things like asm blocks.)

Personally I like Javascript as a language and think it's a shame to see roadblocks to it's development happen because of the nature of the platform it usually runs on. I'd like to see something like GWT where the source language is Javascript instead of Java - that is a Javascript to Javascript compiler where you could add whatever local features you need and have the compiler throw away the fluff and stick in cross-browser compatible shims.

Opera is the Ron Paul of browsers (1, Interesting)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215539)

Avoid the two big warring parties that are too big to get anything right, strip down your runtime and spend more time being less concerned with government or browsers. Opera is the Ron Paul of browsers in that it seems a lot of us use it online, but you never see mention of it in the "real world," and this article is part of that trend. Why?

Re:Opera is the Ron Paul of browsers (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215661)

There's no need to pull Ron Paul's abysmal ability to properly render real world websites into the discussion.

Re:Opera is the Ron Paul of browsers (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215701)

I think the reason no one discusses Opera is because it is still viewed as an alternative and not a major player. Mozilla and IE have been going at it for years and Opera has managed to stay out of it at the cost of not being viewed as a major contender. The moment Opera gets involved in a major "future of the web" dispute, it will be seen as a major browser.
Where I work there is a general feel that if something works in IE and Firefox, test it in Opera. If it doesn't work in Opera, publish it anyway.

Re:Opera is the Ron Paul of browsers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215873)

So, you use Ron Paul... a lot... online... and then never mention it in the 'real world'? Are you afraid of somebody finding out your sick little fetish?! You are sick man, sick!

Re:Opera is the Ron Paul of browsers (1)

freshman_a (136603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215915)


but you never see mention of it in the "real world," and this article is part of that trend. Why?

I think it depends on where you look in the "real world". I've seen Opera mentioned a lot, just not always when it comes to the desktop. While I use Firefox on my desktop and laptop, I use Opera on my PDA, cell phone, and Wii. Last I checked, IE and Mozilla/Firefox weren't available for any of these devices (at least, with respect to the devices I own).

Also, this article is focusing on the discussion between 2 specific people - one works on Mozilla, one works on IE. If an Opera developer were to become involved, Opera would be part of the discussion.

Re:Opera is the Ron Paul of browsers (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216015)

but you never see mention of it in the "real world," and this article is part of that trend. Why?

because the add-ons for Firefox are simply too good to pass up. The rest of the population doesn't know about either Opera or Firefox and just uses the pre-installed IE on their Windows machine. Seriously though, the add-ons for Firefox add a TON of value to the Mozilla platform. Is there anything like the range and quality of available add-ons for Opera? I don't know, but I would bet the answer is probably no.

Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215547)

A whole other language? Give me a f**king break. They already tried that crap with c#.

What don't those retards understand about the word "standards"?

Just don't break things! (4, Insightful)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215559)

As a user, I really couldn't care less which way it goes.

Just don't break things that work now!

As a developer, I really don't care, either.

Just don't break things that work now!

But the thing doesn't really work. (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215787)

Browser compatibility of those javascript(s) and jscript is a nightmare.

Not sure about this... (2, Insightful)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215563)

Honestly, if we're going to have a new version that's significantly different and "updated," just fork: Keep the original code that works well as one version and then rewrite it as the basis for the new one. The first thing that comes to my mind is KDE4: It's a hell of an idea, but I think they'd best keep 3.5.* around until they're done with 4.0.

In short, give people a choice: Let me choose if I want to write for the stable venerable base or the new pretty whizbang version.

Re:Not sure about this... (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215627)

But that's exactly what Wilson is saying -- leave ECMA 3 as it is, broken and all, and add something new.

Re:Not sure about this... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215957)

And that is exactly what ECMA 4 does: it leaves ECMA 3 as it is (except for a few really minor and obviously broken things that everyone except for Microsoft agrees on), and then adds some sorely needed extras on top of it which the open web really needs in order to stay competitive with the closed-offerings by the likes of Microsoft.
All current-day JavaScript will continue to work! Backward compatibility has been the number one goal during the development of ECMAScript 4. But Microsoft is scared - web applications have finally started fulfilling the original promise shown by Netscape, making the OS largely irrelevant. And so Microsoft is throwing up any- and all roadblocks it can think of, stalling for as much time as possible in order to create enough lock-in with WPF e.a. that they'll remain relevant. Understandable, of course - they're a company, trying to survive. But a really bad thing for the open web, and something which must be overcome.

What's this all about? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Conrad (600139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215599)

OK, maybe I'm missing the point here but AFAICS no-one's arguing against the new draft; instead, the argument about whether you accept the new syntax inside <script type="javascript"> tags or not. One side says yes, other says we should keep that for older JS and put the new stuff inside <script type="ecmascript4"> tags or similar so we can tell ahead of time which one we're supposed to be dealing with and make sure we don't break existing web code.

I don't see anything about closing the web or stomping on the little guy or anything like that. Where's that coming from?

Re:What's this all about? (1)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215745)

To answer the last question, while the often quoted opera.com article is sarcastic in calling Microsoft the good guys, this might be on of the cases where the evil monopoly is right and the valiant fighter for freedom is just dead wrong. And we know, THAT CAN'T BE!

Re:What's this all about? (1)

Coniptor (22220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216055)

"I don't see anything about closing the web or stomping on the little guy or anything like that. Where's that coming from?"

Microsoft's established reputation which they have shown NO desire to alter, and their new pet technology Silverlight, if your actually reading the posts. Don't you know? They helped get the PC into the homes of millions. They *DESERVE* to own and control all platforms. After all they have to keep making their shareholders richer and richer irregardless of ANYTHING else going on in the world or who they HURT. Shouldn't matter that they want everyone including government systems putting ALL their eggs in one basket just to make them happy. If I'm captain obvious you must be captain oblivious.

Start a New Language (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215609)

I would say start a new Language. If they *upgrade* JS how well will it support older browsers. I am not talking IE 5 or anything, but say mobile phone browsers etc? If developers start creating new web pages with the new version of JavaScript are people going to have to upgrade everything? I think it would be better to start a new language so developers can support both. Have a JavaScript page and a XYZNewLanguage page. Sort of like how they have a Flash and a non flash page. So gradually they can phase out JavaScript in replace of a new better language.

Re:Start a New Language (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215769)

Yes, that's what MS is proposing. It's called SilverLight.

But can anybody trust MS on anything?
History has proven that you can't trust MS.

Re:Start a New Language (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215961)

Yeah...can't trust them. However, that is not a reason to make a stupid mistake and leave countless users unsupported. Do not think of it as MS think of it as company A and company B. One wants to expand on existing and somewhat flawed technology. The other wants to leave that existing technology alone and start over. In the long run which is the better decision?

Besides saying it is silverlight is step 2000 and we are on step on. Do we want to change JS or make a new language. That is step one. Saying it is SilverLight is just speculation. Microsoft would have to run it past the mac people, the Firefox people, and other companies that have an interest in web development. They can try and push something new but if they do not have the backing of everyone they will get nowhere. It is not 1995 any more.

Forgetting that it's Microsoft for a minute... (0, Offtopic)

Carcass666 (539381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215635)

Javascript is an ugly, inconsistent (in and of itself as a language let alone the browser differences) beast, and I don't know of too many people who enjoy dealing with it. If you are going to radically change the functionality, why not start from scratch? Leave "Active"xxx and "Java"xxx out of it.

Use something that, by nature, has flexible data types, expandability and clarity built into it. My vote would be for Python, but I'm sure both Mozilla and Microsoft would feel differently. In a perfect world, both sides would quit pretending that JavaScript should anything to do with Java and quit pretending that a HTML scripting language should be a portal to the OS.

Wishes (2, Funny)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215659)

I've actually had dreams about all the major browsers coming to an agreement about consistent standards with HTML, CSS and Javascript. I have actually had dreams about designing an elaborate webpage layout for Firefox and then having it turn out perfect when it came time to load it in IE. But then I woke up and went about another busy day of using tables and NOT divs for webpage layouts...

*sigh*

Re:Wishes (2)

jddj (1085169) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215889)

If you're using <tables> for non-tabular data, you're part of the crowd perpetuating the problem, not driving the solution.

Wanna do more than dream? Leave <tables> behind. Unless you're displaying tabular data, of course.

brand new language (2, Interesting)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215685)

Wanting to create a new language instead of supporting an upgraded JavaScript shows one thing, how bad the IE codebase for JavaScript handling might be. This majorly smells like those situations where after a long update and extension period a code becomes so hard to handle that it's better to drop the whole thing and start a rewrite from scratch. Of course, if you argue for a new language, this probbably isn't such a big issue, since you'd need to write a new handler code for that anyway, and nobody will know what your reasons were.
Of course this is all just speculation. Wouldn't be the first time I'd be wrong, still, the smell is really strong.

Brendan Eich, eh? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21215731)

Considering that Javascript is the second most insecure technology to come out since MS-Windows, I'm surprised that anyone would take credit for it.

It's sadly amusing that we've got the two biggest culprits for technology problems arguing over how to improve something. This does not bode well.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has a point (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215783)

The trouble is, Microsoft has a point. Original HTML, up to, say HTML 3.1, was limited but a reasonable design. Most of the attempts to extend past that point have been disappointing. CSS is a collection of attributes in search of an architecture. Page layout with "float" and "clear" is too limited and doesn't work well. (The "three column problem" is well known, and workarounds using layers or absolute positioning often result in text on top of other text.) Javascript is a mediocre language. (Could have been worse; see TCL.) That's the current mess.

Papering over the problem with a layer of "toolkits" just resulted in a proliferation of incompatible toolkit layers. That wasn't the solution.

But Microsoft will try to "fix" the problem with a closed, ambiguous system that requires frequent updates. That's what they do with everything else.

I don't see a good way out of this. Who can provide leadership? Adobe? They can't even make Dreamweaver work right any more.

Re:Unfortunately, Microsoft has a point (1)

Trillan (597339) | more than 6 years ago | (#21216001)

Microsoft has a good point, but I don't think that's it.

Microsoft's point seems to be that something new should be given a new name: "so we could continue supporting existing users as well as freeing the new language from constraints." That's a pretty good argument. In fact, I'd say it's an awesome argument.

Now, granted, this is probably being suggested so Microsoft can say "We support JavaScript/ECMAScript, but not XyzScript." Bah. But the point about naming incompatible things differently (or, inversely, keeping things with the same name compatible) is a pretty sound one.

butterfly effect (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215821)

Wilson wrote that the proposed new standard may result in complications and incompatibilities with existing Web sites and applications.

So, it works the same as always then? Everything seems normal with the new standard.

What I want to see is a giant red T-Rex fighting a massive four-colour Butterfly...with the T-Rex stomping the Butterfly, completely altering the future.

lets call it (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215863)

Lets call it C# or linq instead of java and xsl2 just so we can force our own standard upon everyone.

I agree with MS (1)

ditoa (952847) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215901)

Microsoft are right IMHO, JavaScript is a horrible language in many ways which are well known. I would much rather see a more modern language designed from scratch designed for the future of the web rather than hack in new features to JavaScript beyond the scope it was originally designed for. We also need better development environments for JavaScript as debugging it can be a royal PITA, while Firefox + extensions help it isn't perfect, a proper debugger would be great :)

big surprise (-1, Offtopic)

bigpat (158134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215947)

Big surprise that Microsoft is pushing proprietary languages over expanding existing open standards.

Why are Microsoft employees even allowed in the room anymore? Oh yea... a large part of the market is already locked into their proprietary os and software api monopoly.

I think Microsoft has a long way to go in order to show they can be play nice with others and actually contribute something. Till then all their employees come with a scarlet M... with the combined weight of years of proprietary vendor lock-in, using their monopoly to extend their monopoly, threatening business practices, etc etc.

It is one thing to sell products that people find useful and innovative and another to sell products that are useful and innovative and which make sure you will lose all your work if ever want to use another product that is useful and innovative.

Actually though, I think adobe is the bigger player in rich web based applications. Their proprietary flash with the mostly proprietary flex (for communication between the server and the flash application) are a big proprietary nut to crack for open standards and open implementations. A combination of javascript and full SVG animation support looks promising, but we are still waiting to see a full firefox implementation.

In Other Words... (1, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215955)

As usual, Microsoft is attempting to wipe out an existing standard in favor of some new bastardized monster which it will control. Everyone will have to play catchup to Microsoft's ever-shifting language target, web developers will more than ever be stuck writing everything twice, once for IE and once for everything else. To further its monopoly, it will screw developers and consumers.

I mean, and what the fuck is wrong with updating a fucking language? Christ, they've been doing it with C for the better part of four decades, Fortran and Cobol for longer (adding OOP functionality and other radical new ideas). Microsoft has done it tons with its own Basic dialect, which barely resembles the old MS-BASIC found on Trash-80s and the like.

Re:In Other Words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21216067)

I mean, and what the fuck is wrong with updating a fucking language?
*Excellent* illustration, sir, of exactly what kind of crap we can expect when they update the language as you have updated yours. I for one welcome our adjectivially- and adverbially-challenged overlords.

Oh, wait a minute... Oh, yeah! I think people who know but a single wildcard word (always four letters it is) are *stupid*! :D

MS Trying to undo the Outlook Web Access Mistake (4, Interesting)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215981)

I think Microsoft royally screwed up with outlook web access. They added XMLHttpRequest to the browser so outlook web access would work more like a desktop app. They built an application on a technology that did not require full access to the latest version of the win32 api and x86 assembly language and it was off to the races. Most of Google, Yahoo and indeed the entirety of Web 2.0 was built on this mistake. They are desperately trying to put the web back in the original box they intended it to be in which is people without access to the latest version of the full Win32 API, and an X86 processor will be denied access to all online content.

Language Plugins (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21215997)

I'd prefer to see scripts specify which language interpreter they're tested under, and the browser (or other executing object) retrieve an interpreter for it, caching them (and bundling popular ones if necessary). Why should old scripts stop working because they fixed something I never used in its interpreter, and left out the things I did use?
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