TC39 bashing

Axel Rauschmayer axel at
Wed May 9 16:46:40 PDT 2012

I’m seeing quite a bit of anti-TC39 sentiment out there and I don’t think it’s fair. Some examples (paraphrasing):

- “TC39 doesn’t care about web developers and/or doesn’t understand web development.”
- “TC39 ignores what the people want and designs ‘by committee’.”
- “TC39 is moving too slowly, does too little.”

The following are counter-points to those opinions:

- If you want to do good design, it is impossible to please everybody. Design by popular vote is worse than design by committee. That’s why we have representative democracies.

- Evolving the language while remaining backward compatible is a hard problem. I like what TC39 has done so far. The main goal must be to have as clean a language as possible in the future. Doing so while being backward compatible means that the transition can be a little messy (several similar constructs existing in parallel etc.), but that is unavoidable. One doesn’t need to understand all the gory details as long is things are simple *in practice*.

- TC39 has a lot of responsibility and must keep many parties happy. The payoff, however, is huge: I’m not aware of any other programming language that is as open and has as many different, yet highly compatible, implementations. Hence, moving at a deliberate pace is a good thing. Compare with how much progress Java has made over the years (in an environment that is much simpler than JavaScript’s). In that light’s progress looks quite good.

- I find es-discuss quite open and appreciate it as a resource. I see TC39 members expend a lot of energy and patience in answering as many questions as possible. Every now and then a question won’t be answered. But that is understandable, as es-discuss is not a support hotline that has to cover 100% of the questions.

What could be improved:

- Make it easier to search the mailing list archives. Might be a minor thing, but it would really help. I wonder how Brendan always finds those old threads that are relevant to a particular topic.

- Possibly add an FAQ. This could be as simple as collecting all emails that have long-term explanatory value.

- I like the idea of having a forum what some people can suggest ideas and everyone can vote on them. One would need both up-votes and down-votes, as there is bound to be a lot of troll material. Such a forum can only ever have an advisory role. But it gives developers the opportunity to vent their feelings and it gives TC39 popular feedback (including ideas that might not have come up before). By bundling requests, traffic is reduced.

- Some complaints are about evolving the standard library (including collection types). I’ve seen Brendan hint at a strategy for doing so, but I’d love to read more about it.


Dr. Axel Rauschmayer
axel at


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