Kona notes

Waldemar Horwat waldemar at google.com
Thu Nov 20 23:07:36 PST 2008

It's the first time in a week that I'm able to access the internet (the hotel's network is far too weak for my laptop, so I'm at Lava Java now).  Here are my somewhat scattered notes from this meeting.  I know I missed some items.


Tuesday notes:

SES meeting:  Work it out in committee instead of doing a competition?
Cajita and Valija levels:  simple vs. current web-compatible.
valija ≈ Microsoft web sandbox
They differ in that web sandbox passes out real references to objects but uses the current context to limit what you can access on them (an ACL paradigm).   Valija restricts reference passing (a capability paradigm).  In web sandbox the host can create channels between two sandboxes, but only primitive values can be passed over a channel.
Valija:  all contexts see the own properties of an object in the same way.  They see the basic protype properties in the same way but differ if one monkey-patches a prototype; only that context sees that patch.
Jacaranda:  pure object capability
Recent web sandbox discovered and fixed security bugs:  arguments.prototype.caller.caller to get at the Function constructor; Function() to execute arbitrary code (didn't realize that it did the same as new Function()).

Mozilla monitors greater than cubic complexity in regular expresssions.

Doug Crockford:  Get rid of all native prototypes, constructor fields, etc.

Problem with catch-alls/interceptors.  Assertion was made that an interceptor is just like putting a getter and a setter on every property.  However, this behaves materially differently for prototype objects:  just the mere presence of a getter or a setter on a prototype prevents one from writing to create expandos in the derived object.

How do multiple contexts, as implemented by prototype inheritance on the built-in objects, interact with getters/setters and introspection?

other issues with interceptors are the ability to masquerade as other objects and run arbitrary user code for tests such as HasProperty.  Also, the current spec assumes that the internal operations such as HasProperty, Put, etc. are consistent with each other.

How would iteration work with interceptors?

Relying on an initial script to lock down/delete nasty properties from the global object + having eval do the evaluation in a virgin copy of the global object = oops!

More support for a stratified virtualization system where the outer program can do an "eval" in a virtual and separate inner universe with hooks for what happens on various property lookups, calls, etc.

Brendan:  Catch-all introspection is extraordinarily difficult due to recursion suppresion (a simple flag won't work because the handlers may need to look up other things) and related complexities.  Wouldn't want to go through that again.

New name:  "webfoot" for the concept of providing hooks for sandboxing.

Some folks want to vastly reduce the scope of or delay HTML 5 to make securing it easier.

Wednesday notes:

Turf war if we take over all aspects of sanitization (HTML, CSS, etc.)?

Decimal is out because the spec isn't ready and there are some problems that are not small spec errors -- generic behavior of functions, etc.

Argued about reflection:
- Not clear if it's compatible with const/let.  Discussed this for a while with no resolution.
- Extracting getters and setters exposes too much information -- we'll need to either spec which ones are == to each other or live with undefined behavior.
- Name conflicts with Prototype and other libraries.

List of strict mode restrictions from ES4 discussions of a few months ago:
- No null-to-global-object this propagation (if non-strict mode doesn't already do this)
- Throw on writes to read-only properties
- Throw on deletes of dontdelete properties
- delete o.x when x is not in o but in the proto should throw
- Reference before definition causes static errors (in what contexts?)
- Arity checking  (conflict with 3.1?)
- Global variable auto-creation
- Duplicate formal parameters, parameters with same name as var or local functions, etc.
- Duplicate names in object initializers
- FunctionObject.arguments (not in ES3 but woefully used in practice)
- Use of arguments object (maybe?)  (conflict with 3.1?)
- Useless expressions (maybe?)
- Prohibit with and eval (if non-strict mode doesn't already do this)

11.4.1:  Agreed to change this to always throw if step 5 is reached in strict mode.  This prevents "delete x" from deleting a global variable.
delete a.b
would cause inappropriate semicolon insertion in strict mode.  Also, MemberExpression doesn't accomplish much here, since you can still write delete (4).

Fix:  Remove grammar restriction altogether.

Debate about whether to change the spec to require implementations to ignore extra arguments passed to built-in methods (5th paragraph of chapter 15).  This would interfere with arity checking in future variants of strict-arity mode because currently programs that pass extra arguments are non-portable, while they would become portable if the spec mandates that extra arguments are ignored.  Also, there are some methods on which we have a placeholder for locale objects.  Mozilla makes use of an extra argument in its string replace function.  Agreed to revert to ES3 text.

7.8.5:  Allowing /[/]/:  This would be a change in this section.  It's already allowed by the chapter 15 grammar.
/(.(/ is a syntax error in Mozilla and ES3.  We'll leave it that way.

Debate on setting properties and SameValue check:  Is NaN a single value or possibly many, distinguishable via implementation-defined means.  Choices:
- Require that NaNs be indistinguishable even if we adopt IEEE 754-2008.
- Allow read-only NaNs to be "replaced" with other NaNs, with the result being that the original NaN stays.
- Never do SameValue tests.  Replacing a read-only value is always an error even if it's being replaced by the same value.
Resolution:  Third choice.  We'll get rid of SameValue checks.

Discussion on what it means to be an Array, a RegExp, a Function, etc.  Host objects can have any Class value.  Some places in the spec distinguish on "x is an Array object", others distinguish on [[Class]].  Relevant for things like bind which must distinguish between length indicating the preferred number of arguments and length being an unrelated size of something.

Thursday notes:

Concerns about ES3.1:
Object.keys(fast):  need second argument?
Object constructor method name conflicts
ES3.1 opt-in
Compatibility with future const
Reflection leakage
Chapter 16
this binding for callbacks (array comparator etc.)
Exposition of chapters 8 and 10
Arguments array in strict mode
Strict mode ambiguities
Statement grammar
[[class]] "function" bind

Some of the "Strict Mode Restrictions" paragraphs are normative (  Some are informative (  We need to clearly distinguish the two.

The Kona draft doesn't match Allen's draft for the statement grammar and the strict mode restrictions on var.

Agreed that 12.1.1 is gone.  Agreed that there are no strict mode restrictions on var placement.
Agreed to allow redundant var x declarations.

Agreed that in strict mode we disallow name conflicts within the same (hoisted) scope of:
parameter vs. parameter
parameter vs. var
parameter vs. function
function vs. var
function vs. function
These may be reported early, at the same time as syntax errors.  This will require adding cases to chapter 16.

Agreed to lose the "fast" parameter of Object.keys and take out the sort.  If an implementation defines a specific order for for-in then Object.keys must return the same order.  sort is broken by getters that return inconsistent values, setters, read-only properties, non-configurable properties if there are holes, non-extensible objects, etc.  Agreed to fix this somehow; it won't necessarily be easy.  Will also need to verify that all of the other algorithms in chapter 15 still work in the presence of getters, setters, read-only properties, non-configurable properties, and non-extensible objects.

Allen says that there is no conflict between the reflection API and const.  We'll likely approach it in Harmony by not creating any properties in the global object until the const is initialized.  All agreed to verify that const (as planned for Harmony) is not broken by ES3.1.

Reflection leakage:  For Harmony we'll look at ways to seal abstraction leaks (interposing hidden levels in prototype hierarchies of user-defined classes, etc.).

Chapter 16: Extend list of errors that can be signalled early to include some strict mode violations (duplicate parameter names, etc.).

Chapter 8 and 10:  Get rid of hidden state that's implicit in the algorithms but not exposed in the data structure.
Introduce concepts before using them.
Go through Waldemar's list of comments from before the meeting.

bind behavior:  Should bind create only a call or both a call and a construct bound property?  We decided to stick to last meeting's decision of creating both a call and a construct bound property.  (If it were just call, then the argument for adding bind to the language at all weakens since it would do duplicate what the frameworks already do but perhaps slightly less compatibly.)

Harmony hour:

- classes
- const / let
- decimal
- lambda
- lexical scope mode (pragma) vs. module {}
- names
- return to label
- types
- webfoot

What is webfoot?  Performance optimization for Valija-like things.  Whitelisting flag, interceptors, catchalls?

Repetitive discussion of names as an encapsulation mechanism.  Nothing that we hadn't resolved before.

How is lambda useful except for code gemerators?  It's hazardous because it's too easy to leak completion values that were not intended to be returned.  Also it's hard to refactor lambdas if it's not clear whether their return values are intentional or accidental.

(class and instance) * (const and mutable variables, methods, and getters/setters) * (public and private) + constructor?
instance private vs. class private
class private would require a different syntax for accessing the private value "length" vs. the length of some unrelated object that was passed in in an argument.

March meeting moved from Washington DC to the bay area.

Pre-meeting comments (amended):

Overall:  With "const" missing, the changes to chapter 8 for attribute description become premature standardization and should be cut.  The problem is that these changes are likely to be incompatible with ES-Harmony due to the same logic that cut "const".  Without "const" we have no way of testing this, and I would not support issuing a standard only to have to say "oops" a few months later.  [rescinded after receiving assurances of const compatibility at meeting]

5.2:  "step my specify"

7.1:  "format control characters may be used in identifiers, ...":  No they can't, according to section 7.6.

7.3:  "except that line terminators that are preceded by an escape sequence may occur":  "preceded" is not thw right meaning here.  "part of"?

7.3:  The production
  LineTerminator :: ... | <CR> | <CR><LF>
is ambiguous.  Probably the simplest fix is to change it to:
  LineTerminator :: ... | <CR> [lookahead isn't <LF>] | <CR><LF>

Even then having <CR><LF> there causes trouble for things like its use in,, and  It's not clear what we want there.

7.5:  Token :: ReservedWord | Identifier | IdentifierName doesn't make sense

7.8.3:  The MV of NumericLiteral :: DecimalLiteral m is not defined.

7.8.3:  This states that decimal literals may be rounded to 20 significant digits.  Is that what we want?

7.8.4:  "All Unicode characters may appear literally in a string literal except for the closing quote character, backslash, carriage return, and line feed. Any character may appear in the form of an escape sequence.":  This is wrong about the other line terminators.

8:  Can Property Descriptors and Property Identifiers be stored as user-visible properties of objects?  The last sentence seems to imply that they can.

8.5:  "The Decimal type has exactly 10^34*12288+3 values".  I don't think this is correct.  How did you arrive at this figure?

There are not ten times as many denormalized Decimal values as there are normalized Decimal values.  All of the Decimal number counts in this section appear suspect.

Why do we need to distinguish Decimal denorms anyway?  The concept is not used anywhere in the document.

Fix grammar and spelling errors.

8.6.1:  "change the property to being an" => "change the property to be an"

"operator in section 11.4.1, and the":  remove comma.

8.6.2:  ThrowablePut is optional?

"The value of the [[Class]] property of a host object may be any value":  Do you mean any string?  "explicit control over the handling of invalid property store":  Do you really mean "store" here?  I think "stores" makes more sense.  "if O is a String object it has":  add "then" before "it".  Add comma before "the following steps".

8.10:  The nomenclature is too inconsistent for me to be able to readily make sense out of this at this time.  Sometimes you refer to property descriptor properties as "writable" (as in "{value: 42, writable: false, configurable: true}", and sometimes as "[[Writable]]" (as in "Desc.[[Writable]]" in 8.10.2).  Therefore these are two different things just as x.prototype and x.[[Prototype]] are different?

Also, Desc.[[Writable]] doesn't make sense because there is no such internal property listed in the table of all internal properties used in this specification in 8.6.2.

The big problem that must be addressed and which I've mentioned several times before is that the data types from 8.10 are used in earlier sections of chapter 8 before they are defined here.  I can't figure out which order to read this chapter in, as text from 8.10 subtly modifies the interpretation of 8.6.2.  Solving this problem by moving this content to or near 8.6.2 would help solve the others as well.

Can a Property Descriptor include both [[setter]] and [[value]] fields?  8.10 is ambiguous on that.

"(name, descriptor), where name is a string and descriptor ":  italicize "name" and "descriptor".

8.10.4:  "the following steps are taken:, the following steps are taken:"

The Note here should be a normative part of the preamble.  Otherwise step 4 doesn't make sense.

Be consistent about italicization of Desc.

8.10.5:  Call the formal parameter something other than "Desc" here.  It's confusing to use the same name for both objects and property descriptors.

9:  Decimal support broken in most of the tables.

9.3:  ToDecimal on a Number gives the Number unchanged?

ToNumber on a Decimal is not defined.

9.8:  ToString on a Decimal is not defined in the table.

The algorithm only works on Number values.  +0, -0, etc. are Number values, not Decimal values.  Also, it internally references conversions to Numbers.

9.3.1:  ToDecimal on a string results in a Number.  Also, it optionally drops significant digits after the 20th.

10.2:  "functrions"

10.2.1:  "binding can not be set throw a TypeError exception":  Missing comma.  "a ECMAScrpt":  a -> an and fix spelling error

"A declarative environment record binding the set of identifiers defined by the declarations contained within its scope.":  Not a sentence.  Be consistent about spaces before the opening parenthesis of formal parameters.  "The S argument is ignored because stict mode deoes not change the meaning of setting bindings in declarative environment records have .":  Ah, that's what "S" is for?  You didn't explain this earlier when S was first mentioned in the other methods.  Also, fix grammar errors.  Same comments as above.  Also lots of typos in various places.  This will mean that having bindings in the prototype will prevent one from building ones in the leaf object.  "of it’s associated ":  it's -> its

"4. If Result(3) is false or the binding for N in Result(1) is an uninitialized immutable binding, then":  What's an uninitialized immutable binding here?  Result(3) is an object, not an environment.  Objects have properties, not bindings.  This will always error out in DefineOwnProperty.  "3. If the binding for N in Result(1) is a mutable binding, then":  What is a mutable binding?  Result(1) is an object, not an environment.

"4. Else this must be an attempt to change the value of an immutable binding so throw a TypeError exception.":  This doesn't follow.  For example, just because Result(1) has no binding doesn't mean that its prototype doesn't.  "called with a lexical environment lex, identifier string, name, and boolan flag strict the following steps are performed":  Due to several grammar errors (an extra comma and a missing one) this doesn't mean what it's supposed to.

10.2.2.x:  "is call" -> "is called".  Lots of other typos as well.  There is no current lexical environment bound around the declaration of PopEnvironnmentRecord.

10.3:  "to tract the execution"

What is VariableEnvironment for?  It's never used in the spec, except for a mention in 12.2 which is a bug and shouldn't be there.

10.3.2:  Can't do the arguments object this way.  It's incompatible with ES3 for multiple arguments sharing the same name.  You also don't want users extracting the getters and setters out of the arguments array, etc.  Also, the notion of scope in which the getters and setters are eval'd is fuzzy at best and can cause problems if other definitions ever shadow the parameter names.

10.3.3:  "Variables and functions declared in ECMAScript code evaluate in the execution context are added as bindings in the that environment record."  Huh?

"1. Let env be the running execution context’s VariableEnvironment."  How do those get created?  Section 10.4 should come first.

10.4:  This is still confusing.  What creates execution contexts?  There is no such step in the algorithms here.

11.1.5:  This means that I can override a getter with a value property or specify two getters for the same property even in strict mode.  We had agreed that strict mode disallowed such things.

11.2.1:  "where <identifier-name-string> is a string literal containing the same sequence of characters as the IdentifierName.":  The meaning is ambiguous in the presence of escape codes.

11.3.1, 11.3.2:  All four of the return statemets are wrong in different ways.  Some return the preincremented value.  Some return an lvalue instead of an rvalue.

11.5:  What's the corresponding Decimal operation?  There are a bunch of different remainder options.

11.8.5:  You're treating Unicode character codes as Decimal numbers.  Which characters have Unicode numbers that are Numbers, and which ones have Unicode numbers that are Decimals?

If you fix this and apply the same contagion rules as for +, -, *, etc., then you'll have the issue that 1e-400m > 0m but 1e-400m > 0 is false.  The contagion rules need rethinking.

11.9.3:  The contagion here is from Number to Decimal.  This is inconsistent with +, -, *, etc., where the contagion is from Decimal to Number.  It should be the same for all arithmetic operations.

11.9.6:  Don't need to call ToDecimal on values that are already Decimals.  The strict mode restrictions are ambiguous.  What happens in this case, where g does not exist?

g = (function(){throw "foo"})();

What about this?

g = eval("var g = 5; 2");

12:  We agreed that functions defined within blocks are scoped locally.

12:  Not allowing 
12.2:  This breaks ES3 and existing practice.  Consider with(o) {var x = 3} if o.x exists and has the value 7.  This code currently sets o.x to 3; the proposed change would leave it at 7.

13:  "code code"

14:  The syntax of the use strict directive is incompatible with the lexer grammar.  There is no such separate token.  What happens if someone escapes a character within the use strict directive token?  The spaces before "use" and at the end are mandatory?  Is it mandatory that the semicolon follow without an intervening space?  How does the semicolon interact with semicolon insertion?

Strict directives are ambiguous with statements.

There should be no "opt" after UseStrictDirective's definition.  sort is broken by getters that return , setters, read-only properties, non-configurable properties if there are holes, non-extensible objects, etc.

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