NEW YORK -- Among the key issues in the Internet space today is the
ongoing struggle between openness and stability in terms of standard
Web technology, said a Yahoo Web technology expert.
said this struggle is being felt across the industry at different
levels and is becoming a point of concern in the standards bodies
governing Web technologies. Crockford spoke with exclusively with eWEEK
at the Yahoo Open Hack Day
here on October 9.
Crockford, also a member of the Ecma Technical Committee 39 (TC39), which is working on ECMAScript
Breaking the Web would mean making the wrong choice on the evolution
of a key standard technology that could impact compatibility, or
security, reliability or any of a series of "-ilities," Crockford said.
and that's true for HTML, CSS and a lot of other Web technologies,"
Crockford said. "The issue is how do we fix it without breaking it? For
now we've been content putting stuff on top of it, but that can only
last so long." So the effort of the standards bodies is to find a way
to extend these technologies without "breaking" them.
For example, with the ECMAScript, the TC39 committee abandoned an
effort to deliver a fourth version of ECMAScript that advanced the
language but also had some features that caused concern for some
members, Crockford said. Instead, the committee agreed up a new
specification, known as the "Harmony" release, which will incorporate
changes and new features amenable to all members. The Harmony release
is not expected to be available until at least two years from now.
However, in the interim TC39 has committed to deliver a new version of
ECMAScript -- known as version 5 -- that advances the language and
fixes some of the problems developers have noted.
"The fifth edition of ECMAScript includes some important
improvements to the specification," Crockford said. Specifically, the
fifth edition features better security, native JSON support, enhanced
library support and more, Crockford said.
The fifth edition of ECMAScript is expected in December, Crockford
said. A new ECMAScript release has been a long time in coming. The last
version, version 3, came out 10 years ago -- in December 1999.
Meanwhile, Crockford said the versioning of the Harmony release is
still up in the air, but it will likely be named ECMAScript 6.
Crockford credited Microsoft with having created AJAX, which the
software giant openly touts. However, "they were blindsided by their
own success," he said. Crockford added that he believes Microsoft
figured that innovation on the core construct technologies on the Web
was finished "and they went on to build Avalon [the code name for
Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)]. Their JScript
was that commonality that made AJAX happen. So they absolutely invented
However, although praising Microsoft on one hand, Crockford
criticized the software giant on another -- Internet Explorer 6. He
called the recently announced Google Chrome Frame
which enables users to cover IE6 with Google's Chrome browser
technology, a "clever hack. The Web development community has a problem
with IE6. The core set of IE6 users will likely never upgrade. And the
problem is we're never going to get all these people to use the
plug-in. It's an embarrassment for Microsoft."