“What really happened is what people thought was going to be a minor piece of browser technology — particularly over the last 10 years — has really taken over the world of programming languages,” said Wirfs-Brock. “And so it’s quite remarkable.”
“And so the standards committee was still there and was responsible for moving the language forward. But nobody on the committee had actually done any design work with the language before, of any significance,” Wirfs-Brock said. “They’d only sort of done maintenance up to that point. And now suddenly, they had the job of trying to move the language forward.”
The turmoil was triggered in part by differences of philosophies between the web technologists versus technologists who came from outside the core community.
With the 6th edition of ECMAScript, for example, the idea was to not try to reinvent the wheel, he explained.
“The most important thing about it was saying ‘here’s a way we could go forward,’” said Wirfs-Brock. “‘Here’s a way we could work together on the foundation we have and add to it.’”
The developments Wirfs-Brock is following today and their future implications involves the challenges of taking into account “so many good ideas, and you can’t add them all.”
“When you’re dealing with a large group of contributors, it’s hard to sort those out because people don’t become involved with a language effort, design effort or standardization effort to not do stuff,” Wirfs-Brock said. “They come there to, ‘oh, this is my opportunity to add my favorite feature to the language.’ And if everybody does that, you get a mess.”
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