Improving ECMAScript as a compilation target

Brendan Eich brendan at
Fri Feb 13 11:23:25 PST 2009

On Feb 13, 2009, at 11:10 AM, Peter Michaux wrote:

> On Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 10:51 AM, Brendan Eich <brendan at>  
> wrote:
>> JS is used by many more programmers, amateur and pro, than C. It  
>> has to have
>> better human factors than C. That goes against being a good code  
>> generator
>> target language.
> I think that may not be true in all cases.

I wrote "that goes against". It was not an exhaustive claim, it was  
about tendency and design focus. When push comes to shove, it means no  
goto, no call/cc, no low-level machine types (exception: ByteVector as  

> methodMissing is an example where both groups could benefit.

We added __noSuchMethod__ for TIBET, not for code generators. But I'm  
bored with this straw man already.

> Tail calls is another feature I think benefit both especially as  
> interest in functional languages is rising
> strongly.

I happen to agree, but these already foundered during ES4 development.

> When weighing the pros and cons of a proposed feature, knowing that
> putting "helps compilers" in the pros column is considered acceptable
> is important. Does "helps compilers" carry any weight at all with the
> committee?

I can only speak for myself, but "helps compilers" is hard to judge  
without compilers in hand. And IMO it has to lose to usability and  
safety-last human factors for things like call/cc.

> If it does then there is no need for anyone to dance around
> it for fear of being called a distractor or disruptively off topic.
> They can just say it as part of an acceptable discussion.

We are not subject to a moderator rejecting unacceptable discussion.  
I'm disagreeing with you, to the extent I can get clear statements to  
agree or disagree with, 'sall.


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