Design principles for extending ES object abstractions

Allen Wirfs-Brock allen at wirfs-brock.com
Fri Jul 8 15:49:20 PDT 2011


On Jul 8, 2011, at 2:58 PM, Brendan Eich wrote on the thread using Private name objects for declarative property definition. :

> But whatever the class syntax, and the disposition of private in class and even classes in ES.next, I agree we should expect private declarative and expression forms to work the same in object initialisers and in classes.
> 
> It would be good to get everyone buying into this private-means-property-with-private-name-key-everywhere agreement.
> 

I wanted to generalize this a bit.  In designing "classes" and other new ES abstractions there are a couple design principles that I think it is important that we follow:

1) Everything works with plain objects.

Objects (and functions) are the primitive abstraction mechanisms of ES.
Any new functionality we add must be applicable and available to plain vanilla singleton objects.
Anti-example:  super keyword that is only available in a class declaration
Acceptable solution: super keyword is available for both class declaration and object literals.

2) Anything that can be done declaratively can also be done imperatively.

Imperative/reflective object construction is a power feature of ES that has been widely exploited by everyday developers as well as  metaprogrammers.
Any new object capabilities that we make available via declarative  constructs must also be available via an imperative API.
Anti-example: functions definitions using super keyword may only occur within an object literal or class declaration.
Acceptable solution: Object.defineMethod can be used to bind an externally defined function that uses the super keyword to a specific object.

I don't expect that anybody will significantly disagree with either of these principles.  But I think it is good to explicitly articulate them and make sure we have agreement one them. Sometimes we spend a lot of time discussing an idea that doesn't or can't conform to these principles.

Allen 
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