New full Unicode for ES6 idea

Phillips, Addison addison at
Sun Feb 19 17:18:41 PST 2012

Mark wrote:

First, it would be great to get full Unicode support in JS. I know that's been a problem for us at Google.

AP> +1: I think we’ve waited for supplementary character support long enough!

Secondly, while I agree with Addison that the approach that Java took is workable, it does cause problems.

AP> The tension is between “compatibility” and “ease of use” here, I think. The question is whether very many scripts depend on the ‘uint16’ nature of a character in ES, use surrogates to effect supplementary character support, or are otherwise tied to the existing encoding model and are broken as a result of changes. In its ideal form, an ES string would logically be a sequence of Unicode characters (code points) and only the internal representation would worry about whatever character encoding scheme made the most sense (in many cases, this might actually be UTF-16).

AP> … but what I think is hard to deal with are different modes of processing scripts depending on “fullness of the Unicode inside”. Admittedly, the approach I favor is rather conservative and presents a number of challenges, most notably in adapting regex or for users who want to work strictly in terms of character values.

There are good reasons for why Java did what it did, basically for compatibility. But if there is some way that JS can work around those, that'd be great.

AP> Yes, it would.


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