ECMAScript 6



1. What is ES6?  

Short Answer

ECMAScript 6 (ES6, often referred to as "Harmony") is the upcoming sixth major release of the ECMAScript language specification. ECMAScript is the "proper" name for the language commonly referred to as JavaScript.

Long Answer

The ECMAScript specification is a standardized specification of a scripting language developed by Brendan Eich of Netscape; initially it was named Mocha, later LiveScript, and finally JavaScript.In December 1995, Sun Microsystems and Netscape announced JavaScript in a press release.In March 1996, Netscape Navigator 2.0 was released, featuring support for JavaScript.

Owing to the widespread success of JavaScript as a client-side scripting language for Web pages, Microsoft developed a compatible dialect of the language, naming it JScript to avoid trademark issues. JScript added new date methods to alleviate the Year 2000 problem caused by the JavaScript methods that were based on the Java Date class.JScript was included in Internet Explorer 3.0, released in August 1996.

Netscape delivered JavaScript to Ecma International for standardization and the work on the specification, ECMA-262, began in November 1996.The first edition of ECMA-262 was adopted by the Ecma General Assembly in June 1997. Several editions of the language standard have been published since then. The name "ECMAScript" was a compromise between the organizations involved in standardizing the language, especially Netscape and Microsoft, whose disputes dominated the early standards sessions. Eich commented that "ECMAScript was always an unwanted trade name that sounds like a skin disease."

While both JavaScript and JScript aim to be compatible with ECMAScript, they also provide additional features not described in the ECMA specifications.


6th Edition - ECMAScript 2015

The 6th edition, officially known as ECMAScript 2015, was finalized in June 2015.This update adds significant new syntax for writing complex applications, including classes and modules, but defines them semantically in the same terms as ECMAScript 5 strict mode. Other new features include iterators and for/of loops, Python-style generators and generator expressions, arrow functions, binary data, typed arrays, collections (maps, sets and weak maps), promises, number and math enhancements, reflection, and proxies (metaprogramming for virtual objects and wrappers).The complete list is extensive.

Browser support for ES6 is still incomplete.However, ES6 code can be transpiled into ES5 code, which has more consistent support across browsers.Transpiling adds an extra step to build processes whereas polyfills allow adding extra functionalities by including another javascript file.



2. What are the Features of ES6?  

ES6 is a significant update to the language, and the first update to the language since ES5 was standardized in 2009. Implementation of these features in major JavaScript engines is underway now.

See the ES6 standard for full specification of the ECMAScript 6 language.

ES6 includes the following new features:
  • arrows
  • classes
  • enhanced object literals
  • template strings
  • destructuring
  • default + rest + spread
  • let + const
  • iterators + for..of
  • generators
  • unicode
  • modules
  • module loaders
  • map + set + weakmap + weakset
  • proxies
  • symbols
  • subclassable built-ins
  • promises
  • math + number + string + array + object APIs
  • binary and octal literals
  • reflect api
  • tail calls

Here's the list of the top 10 best ES6 features for a busy software engineer (in no particular order):
  1. Default Parameters in ES6
  2. Template Literals in ES6
  3. Multi-line Strings in ES6
  4. Destructuring Assignment in ES6
  5. Enhanced Object Literals in ES6
  6. Arrow Functions in ES6
  7. Promises in ES6
  8. Block-Scoped Constructs Let and Const
  9. Classes in ES6
  10. Modules in ES6


3. What is Arrows?  

Arrows are a function shorthand using the => syntax. They are syntactically similar to the related feature in C#, Java 8 and CoffeeScript. They support both statement block bodies as well as expression bodies which return the value of the expression. Unlike functions, arrows share the same lexical this as their surrounding code.Arrow functions are, as the name suggests, functions defined with a new syntax that uses an "arrow" (=>) as part of the syntax.
// Expression bodies
var odds = evens.map(v => v + 1);
var nums = evens.map((v, i) => v + i);
var pairs = evens.map(v => ({even: v, odd: v + 1}));

// Statement bodies
nums.forEach(v => {
  if (v % 5 === 0)
    fives.push(v);
});

// Lexical this
var bob = {
  _name: "Bob",
  _friends: [],
  printFriends() {
    this._friends.forEach(f =>
      console.log(this._name + " knows " + f));
  }
}


4. What is Classes?  

ES6 classes are a simple sugar over the prototype-based OO pattern. Having a single convenient declarative form makes class patterns easier to use, and encourages interoperability. Classes support prototype-based inheritance, super calls, instance and static methods and constructors.
class SkinnedMesh extends THREE.Mesh {
  constructor(geometry, materials) {
    super(geometry, materials);

    this.idMatrix = SkinnedMesh.defaultMatrix();
    this.bones = [];
    this.boneMatrices = [];
    //...
  }
  update(camera) {
    //...
    super.update();
  }
  get boneCount() {
    return this.bones.length;
  }
  set matrixType(matrixType) {
    this.idMatrix = SkinnedMesh[matrixType]();
  }
  static defaultMatrix() {
    return new THREE.Matrix4();
  }
}



5. What is Enhanced Object Literals?  

Object literals are extended to support setting the prototype at construction, shorthand for foo: foo assignments, defining methods, making super calls, and computing property names with expressions. Together, these also bring object literals and class declarations closer together, and let object-based design benefit from some of the same conveniences.
var obj = {
    // __proto__
    __proto__: theProtoObj,
    // Shorthand for ‘handler: handler’
    handler,
    // Methods
    toString() {
     // Super calls
     return "d " + super.toString();
    },
    // Computed (dynamic) property names
    [ 'prop_' + (() => 42)() ]: 42
};


6. What is Template Strings?  

Template strings provide syntactic sugar for constructing strings. This is similar to string interpolation features in Perl, Python and more. Optionally, a tag can be added to allow the string construction to be customized, avoiding injection attacks or constructing higher level data structures from string contents.
// Basic literal string creation
`In JavaScript '\n' is a line-feed.`

// Multiline strings
`In JavaScript this is
 not legal.`

// String interpolation
var name = "Bob", time = "today";
`Hello ${name}, how are you ${time}?`

// Construct an HTTP request prefix is used to interpret the replacements and construction
POST`http://foo.org/bar?a=${a}&b=${b}
     Content-Type: application/json
     X-Credentials: ${credentials}
     { "foo": ${foo},
       "bar": ${bar}}`(myOnReadyStateChangeHandler);


7. What is Destructuring?  

Destructuring allows binding using pattern matching, with support for matching arrays and objects. Destructuring is fail-soft, similar to standard object lookup foo["bar"], producing undefined values when not found.
// list matching
var [a, , b] = [1,2,3];

// object matching
var { op: a, lhs: { op: b }, rhs: c }
       = getASTNode()

// object matching shorthand
// binds `op`, `lhs` and `rhs` in scope
var {op, lhs, rhs} = getASTNode()

// Can be used in parameter position
function g({name: x}) {
  console.log(x);
}
g({name: 5})

// Fail-soft destructuring
var [a] = [];
a === undefined;

// Fail-soft destructuring with defaults
var [a = 1] = [];
a === 1;


8. What is Default+Rest+Spread?  

Callee-evaluated default parameter values. Turn an array into consecutive arguments in a function call. Bind trailing parameters to an array. Rest replaces the need for arguments and addresses common cases more directly.
function f(x, y=12) {
  // y is 12 if not passed (or passed as undefined)
  return x + y;
}
f(3) == 15
function f(x, ...y) {
  // y is an Array
  return x * y.length;
}
f(3, "hello", true) == 6
function f(x, y, z) {
  return x + y + z;
}
// Pass each elem of array as argument
f(...[1,2,3]) == 6


9. What is Let+Const?  

Block-scoped binding constructs. let is the new var. const is single-assignment. Static restrictions prevent use before assignment.
function f() {
  {
    let x;
    {
      // okay, block scoped name
      const x = "sneaky";
      // error, const
      x = "foo";
    }
    // error, already declared in block
    let x = "inner";
  }
}


10. What is Iterators+For..Of?  

Iterator objects enable custom iteration like CLR IEnumerable or Java Iterable. Generalize for..in to custom iterator-based iteration with for..of. Don’t require realizing an array, enabling lazy design patterns like LINQ.
let fibonacci = {
  [Symbol.iterator]() {
    let pre = 0, cur = 1;
    return {
      next() {
        [pre, cur] = [cur, pre + cur];
        return { done: false, value: cur }
      }
    }
  }
}

for (var n of fibonacci) {
  // truncate the sequence at 1000
  if (n > 1000)
    break;
  console.log(n);
}

Iteration is based on these duck-typed interfaces (using TypeScript type syntax for exposition only):
interface IteratorResult {
  done: boolean;
  value: any;
}
interface Iterator {
  next(): IteratorResult;
}
interface Iterable {
  [Symbol.iterator](): Iterator
}


11. What is Generators?  

Generators simplify iterator-authoring using function* and yield. A function declared as function* returns a Generator instance. Generators are subtypes of iterators which include additional next and throw. These enable values to flow back into the generator, so yield is an expression form which returns a value (or throws).

Note: Can also be used to enable ‘await’-like async programming, see also ES7 await proposal.
var fibonacci = {
  [Symbol.iterator]: function*() {
    var pre = 0, cur = 1;
    for (;;) {
      var temp = pre;
      pre = cur;
      cur += temp;
      yield cur;
    }
  }
}

for (var n of fibonacci) {
  // truncate the sequence at 1000
  if (n > 1000)
    break;
  console.log(n);
}
The generator interface is (using TypeScript type syntax for exposition only):
interface Generator extends Iterator {
    next(value?: any): IteratorResult;
    throw(exception: any);
}


12. What is Unicode?  

Non-breaking additions to support full Unicode, including new Unicode literal form in strings and new RegExp u mode to handle code points, as well as new APIs to process strings at the 21bit code points level. These additions support building global apps in JavaScript.
// same as ES5.1
"𠮷".length == 2

// new RegExp behaviour, opt-in ‘u’
"𠮷".match(/./u)[0].length == 2

// new form
"\u{20BB7}"=="𠮷"=="\uD842\uDFB7"

// new String ops
"𠮷".codePointAt(0) == 0x20BB7

// for-of iterates code points
for(var c of "𠮷") {
  console.log(c);
}


13. What is Modules?  

Language-level support for modules for component definition. Codifies patterns from popular JavaScript module loaders (AMD, CommonJS). Runtime behaviour defined by a host-defined default loader. Implicitly async model – no code executes until requested modules are available and processed.
// lib/math.js
export function sum(x, y) {
  return x + y;
}
export var pi = 3.141593;

// app.js
import * as math from "lib/math";
alert("2π = " + math.sum(math.pi, math.pi));

// otherApp.js
import {sum, pi} from "lib/math";
alert("2π = " + sum(pi, pi));

Some additional features include export default and export *:
// lib/mathplusplus.js
export * from "lib/math";
export var e = 2.71828182846;
export default function(x) {
    return Math.log(x);
}
// app.js
import ln, {pi, e} from "lib/mathplusplus";
alert("2π = " + ln(e)*pi*2);


14. What is Module Loaders?  

Module loaders support:
  • Dynamic loading
  • State isolation
  • Global namespace isolation
  • Compilation hooks
  • Nested virtualization

The default module loader can be configured, and new loaders can be constructed to evaluate and load code in isolated or constrained contexts.
// Dynamic loading – ‘System’ is default loader
System.import('lib/math').then(function(m) {
  alert("2π = " + m.sum(m.pi, m.pi));
});

// Create execution sandboxes – new Loaders
var loader = new Loader({
  global: fixup(window) // replace ‘console.log’
});
loader.eval("console.log('hello world!');");

// Directly manipulate module cache
System.get('jquery');
System.set('jquery', Module({$: $})); // WARNING: not yet finalized


15. What is Map+ Set+WeakMap+WeakSet?  

Efficient data structures for common algorithms. WeakMaps provides leak-free object-key’d side tables.
// Sets
var s = new Set();
s.add("hello").add("goodbye").add("hello");
s.size === 2;
s.has("hello") === true;

// Maps
var m = new Map();
m.set("hello", 42);
m.set(s, 34);
m.get(s) == 34;

// Weak Maps
var wm = new WeakMap();
wm.set(s, { extra: 42 });
wm.size === undefined

// Weak Sets
var ws = new WeakSet();
ws.add({ data: 42 });
// Because the added object has no other references, it will not be held in the set


16. What is Proxies?  

Proxies enable creation of objects with the full range of behaviors available to host objects. Can be used for interception, object virtualization, logging/profiling, etc.
// Proxying a normal object
var target = {};
var handler = {
  get: function (receiver, name) {
    return `Hello, ${name}!`;
  }
};

var p = new Proxy(target, handler);
p.world === 'Hello, world!';
// Proxying a function object
var target = function () { return 'I am the target'; };
var handler = {
  apply: function (receiver, ...args) {
    return 'I am the proxy';
  }
};

var p = new Proxy(target, handler);
p() === 'I am the proxy';

There are traps available for all of the runtime-level meta-operations:
var handler =
{
  get:...,
  set:...,
  has:...,
  deleteProperty:...,
  apply:...,
  construct:...,
  getOwnPropertyDescriptor:...,
  defineProperty:...,
  getPrototypeOf:...,
  setPrototypeOf:...,
  enumerate:...,
  ownKeys:...,
  preventExtensions:...,
  isExtensible:...
}


17. What is Symbols?  

Symbols enable access control for object state. Symbols allow properties to be keyed by either string (as in ES5) or symbol. Symbols are a new primitive type. Optional description parameter used in debugging - but is not part of identity. Symbols are unique (like gensym), but not private since they are exposed via reflection features like Object.getOwnPropertySymbols.
var MyClass = (function() {

  // module scoped symbol
  var key = Symbol("key");

  function MyClass(privateData) {
    this[key] = privateData;
  }

  MyClass.prototype = {
    doStuff: function() {
      ... this[key] ...
    }
  };

  return MyClass;
})();

var c = new MyClass("hello")
c["key"] === undefined


18. What is Subclassable Built-ins?  

In ES6, built-ins like Array, Date and DOM Elements can be subclassed.

Object construction for a function named Ctor now uses two-phases (both virtually dispatched):
  • Call Ctor[@@create] to allocate the object, installing any special behavior
  • Invoke constructor on new instance to initialize

The known @@create symbol is available via Symbol.create. Built-ins now expose their @@create explicitly.
// Pseudo-code of Array
class Array {
    constructor(...args) { /* ... */ }
    static [Symbol.create]() {
        // Install special [[DefineOwnProperty]]
        // to magically update 'length'
    }
}

// User code of Array subclass
class MyArray extends Array {
    constructor(...args) { super(...args); }
}

// Two-phase 'new':
// 1) Call @@create to allocate object
// 2) Invoke constructor on new instance
var arr = new MyArray();
arr[1] = 12;
arr.length == 2


19. What is Math+Number+String+Array+Object APIs?  

Many new library additions, including core Math libraries, Array conversion helpers, String helpers, and Object.assign for copying.
Number.EPSILON
Number.isInteger(Infinity) // false
Number.isNaN("NaN") // false

Math.acosh(3) // 1.762747174039086
Math.hypot(3, 4) // 5
Math.imul(Math.pow(2, 32) - 1, Math.pow(2, 32) - 2) // 2

"abcde".includes("cd") // true
"abc".repeat(3) // "abcabcabc"

Array.from(document.querySelectorAll('*')) // Returns a real Array
Array.of(1, 2, 3) // Similar to new Array(...), but without special one-arg behavior
[0, 0, 0].fill(7, 1) // [0,7,7]
[1, 2, 3].find(x => x == 3) // 3
[1, 2, 3].findIndex(x => x == 2) // 1
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5].copyWithin(3, 0) // [1, 2, 3, 1, 2]
["a", "b", "c"].entries() // iterator [0, "a"], [1,"b"], [2,"c"]
["a", "b", "c"].keys() // iterator 0, 1, 2
["a", "b", "c"].values() // iterator "a", "b", "c"

Object.assign(Point, { origin: new Point(0,0) })


20. What is Binary and Octal Literals?  

Two new numeric literal forms are added for binary (b) and octal (o).
0b111110111 === 503 // true
0o767 === 503 // true


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