ES4 implementation process, teams, and meetings

Brendan Eich brendan at mozilla.org
Thu Feb 21 19:04:59 PST 2008


On Feb 21, 2008, at 5:49 PM, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:

> On Feb 21, 2008, at 5:03 PM, Graydon Hoare wrote:
>> So presenting yourself as a participant with neither of those  
>> supports in place, you're sort of walking into a room, kicking the  
>> legs out from under a table and asking why it's suddenly on the  
>> floor. We need to revise the strategy a bit to help for your case,  
>> if we can't rely on those. Please try to be patient if this takes  
>> some time; none of us had put "write pre-impl docs" in our current  
>> work-assignment schedules. We'll need to make room to do it. I can  
>> probably dedicate a month of nearly-full-time energy to this  
>> starting in the first week of march. Soon enough?
>
> I'm totally willing to wait for documentation that is more clear  
> and up to date. What concerned me was that it wasn't part of the  
> plan at all, and that Brendan at least seemed unreceptive to the  
> request.

You keep misrepresenting things. I never said anything about not  
writing up-to-date specs. I said specs should be co-evolved with  
implementations to be up to date, and to the extent that they can be  
based on extracted RI code, they should be developed that way, so as  
to be mechanically checkable.

This is a serious point. It deserves more than what I regard as  
flippant attitude about "ask Graydon" combined with overstatement of  
the value of all-prose specs. If you have to look at four files to  
understand let as implemented in the RI, so what? ES1-3 require  
multiple readings of sections 8-15 just to settle simple questions.  
The overview and evolutionary programming tutorial take more top-down  
approaches to presenting (not specifying) features.

Programming languages with the kind of type system, binding rules,  
and compatibility constraints that ES4 has absolutely need executable  
semantic specifications, not merely all-prose specs.

> That it takes time is natural.

Thanks for understanding. Now with that in mind, please re-read  
Jeff's post and mine. We are talking about working intensively in the  
next three months on both specs and implementation. Now is the time  
to step up. Apple was hors de combat for a long time in Ecma TC39.  
Kicking the legs out from under the table and pointing at the floor  
is not good citizenship in my book, whatever our (real) failings in  
keeping proto-specs up to date.

> Ultimately for ES4 to be a meaningful standard, it has to have a  
> spec that is comprehensible without special insider information.

That's true if you mean by "comprehensible" "things only in people's  
head". I claim it's false if you mean "things specified only in prose".

> My expectation was that at least parts of it would start to  
> approach that point before they reached the implementation phase.  
> I'm surprised that this wasn't the plan already, but I'm glad you  
> are willing to be flexible.

I'm not thrilled about people detouring into recapitulating in  
uncheckable, duplicative, buggy prose what is in the RI. I'd rather  
we focus on where the final spec will want to use prose anyway, not  
extracted, lowered RI code. Probably we will have to compromise and  
do both prose and RI work. How willing to be flexible are you?

/be

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