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.
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.
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.
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 technology, 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.”