[TLUG]: ECMAScript ("Javascript") Version 4 - FALSE ALARM

Brendan Eich brendan at mozilla.org
Tue Oct 30 12:25:12 PDT 2007

On Oct 30, 2007, at 10:49 AM, Mark Miller wrote:

> On Oct 30, 2007 10:13 AM, Chris Pine <chrispi at opera.com> wrote:
>> Yes, I read that.  I am extremely doubtful that Microsoft is  
>> suddenly so
>> concerned about browser compatibility for the benefit of the web.   
>> (When
>> IE passes the Acid 2 test, let's talk again.)
>> It's nice that MS has constructed this document identifying browser
>> differences.  But frankly, this is too little, too late.  We are
>> painfully aware of the significant differences.  Suggesting that  
>> we all
>> sit down and strive to fix every last trivial discrepancy under the
>> guise of "browser compatibility" is manipulative and, from a business
>> standpoint, absurd.  It is an unnecessary task that would never be
>> completed.
>> In essence, it is just another stalling tactic.
> When I raised non-technical points critical of the ES4 proposal,
> people rightly shot back with a "technical discussion only!" response,

No, that's not what Rob Sayre wrote -- he said (in a later post) that  
you (among others) were trash-talking without any technical  
substance. Rob wrote:

> I'm afraid your message falls into a pattern I've been seeing lately:
> unsubstantiated, non-technical criticism. In other words, FUD.
> If you have technical criticism to contribute, it is of course  
> welcome.

That's different from saying "technical discussion only." It is not a  
demand for exclusively technical criticism. It is a request to stop  
unsubstantiated FUD.

> which I've respected. Since then, most of the traffic on the list has
> been non-technical criticisms of the critics of the ES4 proposal.

Guess why? Because the critics have made no technical objections on  
this list, and some carefully parsed (in Yehuda Katz's phrase; I  
wasn't there and I really can't tell what was said) statements about  
the politics and division within Ecma TC39-TG1 by Doug Crockford at  
last week's The Ajax Experience in Boston.

Of course people are going to argue about the political fight  
spilling out of TG1, and we may as well argue here. It's not as if  
pretending this political fight is not happening, or that it has no  
consequences on ES4, serves anyone's interest except those trying to  
stop ES4 from making it out of Ecma. It's not as if we have a better  

> Much
> of this traffic, such as the message I quote above, continues to
> speculate about the motives of others, rather than engaging with what
> they are saying.

Chris Pine is on TG1 and a witness to what's going on. He is not  
sowing unsubstantiated FUD, he is talking about what he has observed  
happening inside TG1, and giving his interpretation of it. He could  
be wrong, but his message is not simply speculation.

Politics inevitably involve motives and conflicts of interest, apart  
from purely "technical" concerns genuinely expressed. And as should  
be very clear by now, the objections to the proposed ES4 that TG1  
members have heard are either non-technical, or technical only in a  
vacuously general sense.

> My comments, which provoked so much response,
> contained no such speculation.

No, you merely called ES4 a train wreck and a runaway standard, by  
repeating what you heard from someone at OOPSLA. In my book, that's  
much worse than speculating about Microsoft's motives or business  

Please note that I'm not talking about individuals who work for  
Microsoft, many of whom are fine people who may hold sincere  
technical opinions about ES4 as proposed, or at least their  
understanding of it. I'm talking about the company's business  
interests, its strategies.

Microsoft's interests and strategies are absolutely critical to  
consider when developers ask about the future of ES4, as Kris Zyp  
just did -- and I am going to respond to him on this list. My  
response will contain technical as well as political content.

> I can only conclude that, on this list,
> the injunction "technical discussion only!" should be interpreted as
> carrying the additional clause "unless you agree with us."

You never heard "technical discussion only", and no one ever demanded  
agreement with some mythical "us". You've made a straw man and  
knocked it down.


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