What are Symbols? Objects? New primitive type?

Claude Pache claude.pache at gmail.com
Sat Apr 13 04:36:55 PDT 2013

Le 13 avr. 2013 à 09:56, Andreas Rossberg <rossberg at google.com> a écrit :

> On 13 April 2013 00:35, Allen Wirfs-Brock <allen at wirfs-brock.com> wrote:
>> <snip>
>> Regarding #3
>> The biggest footgun is if
>>  new Symbol()
>> creates a Symbol wrapper.  However,
>>  new Symbol()
>> returning a primitive values would be unlike anything we currently have in
>> the language
> I agree, it has to be the former. But what footgun are you seeing
> there? Any attempt to use a wrapper as a key throws under the
> agreed-upon semantics, so I don't see the issue.

As a JS programmer, I will be very tempted to write `new Symbol` to get a new symbol. The issue is that you get an error in a different line of code from where the problem lies, and you have to be fond of the subtle distinction between value and object wrapper (which is a feature we never use in our daily coding) to understand what is happening without external help. 

In order to mitigate the problem without introducing inconsistency with legacy constructors of primitives, I propose to poison the Symbol constructor, so that it throws a TypeError with a useful message when called as a constructor. The error message would include (inter alia) something like "To obtain a new symbol, use `Symbol()`."

People who have a really good reason for wanting a wrapper Symbol object should already know that you can obtain one with `Object(Symbol())`. 


> /Andreas
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