Classes: suggestions for improvement

Brendan Eich brendan at mozilla.com
Sun Jun 12 15:30:03 PDT 2011


On Jun 12, 2011, at 2:38 PM, Brendan Eich wrote:

> Something about classes in JS makes me sad, an emotional effect I can't explain fully. In part I fear the "lint brush" aspect I mentioned in the thread Irakli just followed up: class syntax will grow lots of hair over time. In part I think class is the wrong word, as cowboyd tweeted (see below).
> 
> Mainly I think we are still finding class syntax, not just the keyword, a bit hard to fit to the prototypal pattern. The super keyword in limited expression forms is no problem. The extends and prototype "Heritage" clause in the class head is ok.
> 
> The constructor flows from the prototype-methods-at-class-element-position design, but starts to rankle, if only because of the name's length. As you can see in my posts today, it seems to go downhill from there. And we're still trying to find a better syntax than the "static" keyword.

Let's say we can make classes mean what we want. Per the agreement to promote them into Harmony with open issues, we are "close enough".

But we still need to nail those open issues. This requires considering alternatives carefully and writing down everything pro and con. It'll be tedious work, without easy answers (at first). I'm game to do it here, although others may fear the Inbox load.

Reflecting on classes in JS, at a high level I feel we are falling into the gravity well of a dying star. It could supernova, in which case we will be burned. Or it could black-hole and we'll get rent by tides before going somewhere else ;-).

Ok, fun metaphor but I'm not totally kidding. The gravity well is created by the mass of "class expectations" from other languages, plus de-facto "prototypal" and other patterns in JS. Heavy.

/be



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