strawman for the := operator

Douglas Crockford douglas at
Wed Aug 8 12:31:54 PDT 2012

On 8/8/2012 11:40 AM, Brendan Eich wrote:

> To be fair, the issue is not overridng "own" read-only or setter-based
> properties. It is overriding delegated properties.
> But there too one can argue, and extant code wants (see WebIDL),
> assignment-invoking-a-setter to abstract over prototype delegation.
> That's enough for me to want non-writable assignment failure to match.
> Others disagree, but I think they're doing so out of pragmatism more
> than principle (the Caja/SES frozen built-in prototypes problem).
> Pragmatism is fine, but for the long run I think we are better off
> providing both assign and define "screwdrivers" (to use Kevin Smith's
> metaphor). Then in principle everyone wins. There's still a hard case
> for Caja on older browsers, but that's (a) temporary; (b) solvable at
> some cost (as Mark et al. cleverly have indeed solved it).
> So I think the long-run right answer, given the sunk cost non-fallacy of
> Caja having to deal with most browsers in the field rejecting write
> attempts that would shadow a non-writable proto-property, is to level
> the field: = and :=, Object.assign and Object.define if appropriate. I'm
> not sure batch assignment pays for itself, but we can check on Dart's
> experience and user-test and argue that one separately.

I am not in favor of adding := to the language (as I am not in favor of 
adding to the language generally), but if := is added, my practical 
advice will be to always use := and never use =. We will probably see 
better performance with := since it doesn't have to slide down the proto 
chain to see if the assignment works. And I like stepping away from ='s 
visual ambiguity, looking too much like an equality operator. It could 
be argued that = is still needed for respecting some kinds of inherited 
stuff, but it could also be argued that those kinds of inherited stuff 
are just weird edge cases that can now be conveniently and efficiently 

So if we do add :=, we should allow it to work on variables too, for 

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