[Harmony Proxies] Proposal: Property fixing

David Bruant david.bruant at labri.fr
Thu Jun 16 08:29:47 PDT 2011

Le 16/06/2011 16:50, Tom Van Cutsem a écrit :
> 2011/6/16 Mark S. Miller <erights at google.com <mailto:erights at google.com>>
>     Ok good, I'll take you up on that. I propose that ES-next arrays
>     differ from ES5 arrays in that their 'length' property appears to
>     be a non-configurable accessor property. Clearly, that better
>     reflects the way Array's 'length' works anyway. Alternatively, if
>     there's some problem with that, I propose that array 'length'
>     appears to be a configurable data property that arrays
>     nevertheless refuse to delete. Either way, proxies would then be
>     able to emulate them faithfully.
> This is also my feeling: part of the awkwardness in emulating array 
> "length" is definitely that we're trying to mimic the behavior of an 
> accessor property using a mutable data property. Would Mark's 
> suggestion be too radical a change? (note: I'm not arguing for this 
> change on the grounds of "it's too awkward to emulate using proxies". 
> I'm arguing on the grounds of "ES5 accessor properties seem to better 
> describe the behavior of a dynamic property such as array |length|").
In arrays, "length" affect numerical properties, but the opposite is 
also true. Should all numerical properties be considered as accessors 
then? (there is a little bit of bad faith here, because a valid 
implementation is possible with just "length" being an accessor. See [1]).

Considering "length" as a data or accessor property is a secondary 
question in my opinion. The "magic" behavior is not at the property 
level but at the object level (even though it can be emulated at the 
property level).
The question raised by Mark is: "should objects with noticeable custom 
internal method (array, host objects, proxies...) be allowed to prentend 
having data property even if some logic is triggered under the hood?". 
If they are not, then, the notion of "data descriptor" does not make 
sense in the context of proxies because anytime a proxy could trigger 
any code.
Should data property descriptor be entirely banned from proxies (and 
host objects)?

There is a cursor to put between data and accessor properties. My 
opinion is that an accessor property should be used when it has a side 
effect *outside the object scope*. For instance, document.cookie should 
be an accessor, because it affects something else than the document 
object (namely other tabs if these send requests to the same domain). 
Same for element.innerHTML which triggers a reflow. However, 
array.length doesn't have any observable effect outside of the object 
it's being used on.
I am fully aware that the first flaw of this definition is that there is 
no way to enforce it in a program (especially not in 
getOwnPropertyDescriptor proxy traps return value). However, this 
separation may be a guideline for the spec purpose.

What are your thoughts on this separation?


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