Octal literals have their uses (you Unix haters skip this one)

Oliver Hunt oliver at apple.com
Thu Jan 12 12:44:26 PST 2012

I'll just add a caveat to brendan's comments below though: JScript doesn't support octal in many (all?) cases, leading to incompatible behaviour when parsing things like 012.

I think the problem with octal numbers isn't a philosophical hate of octal, inasmuch as it is a general unhappiness with the existing octal support, namely a simple 0 prefix switching the parse mode.  If we had another (unambiguous) prefix that would (I'm sure) be fine.

If we were willing to add octal with a clear prefix I would be fine with that, for consistency with hex, I'd lean towards 0o<...>, but I'm open to any suggestions that people may wish to add.  Personally I'd also like a binary form, a la 0b...., but I'm unsure how useful regular developers would find that (I don't write "realworld" JS so my needs don't always align with those of regular developers).


On Jan 12, 2012, at 12:30 PM, Brendan Eich wrote:

>> 	Greg Smith	January 12, 2012 12:08 PM
>> To me this seems like an exception rather than a common problem. Most APIs / tools don't use octals for this type of thing. Seems unnecessary to add to the language for this one use case.
> "Add to the language" is not accurate. Octal is *already* supported by JS engines today, and again, AFAIK, it is required for web compatibility. Banishing octal to the non-normative Annex B, banning it from strict mode -- that does not remove octal from JS in reality.
> Given this, the shoe is rather on the other foot: strict-mode has one more drawback from the point of view of a non-trivial cohort of users (Node.js hackers who wrangle Unix permissions).
>> Not a Linux hater by any means, just the parseInt thing doesn't bother me for this one situation.
> That's nice, but Node.js supports JS non-strict and people use it freely, including not quoting octal literals (the API works with string inputs too, so explicit parseInt is not required).
> The problem for CoffeeScript users can be solved quickly via 0o prefixing. The problem for JS users is also easy: don't use strict mode. Is this really what we want? What good have we done by banning octal in strict mode?
>> Or am I wrong and there are other common uses for octal literals?
> The only use case I'm citing here is Unix permission modes. That's enough.
> /be
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