That hash symbol

Wes Garland wes at
Sat Mar 26 06:44:21 PDT 2011

On Sat, Mar 26, 2011 at 2:33 AM, Brendan Eich <brendan at> wrote:

> On Mar 25, 2011, at 8:45 PM, David Foley wrote:
> > My response was simply this : assuming normative scope in conversational
> tone, that I would welcome is a venue where
end users (engineers and architects as well as scripters) could contribute
> to the developer experience of using JavaScript

I was going to suggest comp.lang.javascript, but I just had a look and it
seems to have been taken over by DOM questions and spam.  David, why don't
you start an "ES Tech" group or something, and ban questions which aren't
related to JS? (Copy your charter from comp.lang.c, maybe).  Announce it
here, and I will subscribe. Probably even participate.

> Kevin Smith started this thread by objecting to #, and that's fair. It's a
> bit chicken-scratchy. If we can find a better introductory keyword or formal
> parameter bracketing form, I'm game.

I like Doug's florin idea from an aesthetic POV, but I have two problems
with it -- suddenly, I have to care what charset my editor is using -- but
more importantly, I can't figure out how to type it on my Sun keyboard or on
my Windows box. Also, what of JS which is delivered on the web using
something other than unicode?

Allowing both is an interesting option, but then I remember how annoying
ANSI tri-graphs were (history lesson for !brendan: not all terminals had {,
C programs allow ??< instead) and realise that would be a mistake.

I, too, find #(a,b) but frankly, there aren't many lead-char solutions which
aren't ugly, easy to type, and not used by identifiers (or as operators)
already.  What have we got to chose from?  I think `@#%^&* -- none of these
are measurably better than # and some are worse. Maybe you could make the
point that & looks like a melted lambda. But I see no point in bike shedding
over this.

Non leading-char solutions have the disadvantage of using some other kind of
bracketing -- e.g.  `a,b { return a + b; }` -- I don't find syntax like this
clear from a coder's POV, and there is the re-tooling issue with
highlighting editors and the ability to trivially transform between the
styles for faster adoption and old code minification -- while these issues
certainly shouldn't be deciding factors for TC39 it is nice that
leading-char lparen...rparen makes most of them go away.

> > You do yourself a disservice by assuming idiocracy.

I don't think Brendan ever assumed that this place is governed by idiots.


Wesley W. Garland
Director, Product Development
PageMail, Inc.
+1 613 542 2787 x 102
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