Maximally minimal stack trace standardization

Marius Gundersen gundersen at
Sun Sep 28 08:01:37 PDT 2014

It would be helpful if the stack trace was machine readable, not just human
readable. As Erik said

[...] we might ass well stop using a string to represent this structured
> data.

The stacktrace should probably be an array of objects with the properties
`filename`, `function`, `line` and `column`. It would then be simple to
format this stacktrace as a string and make it look exactly like it does in
browsers today. With a machine readable stack trace it would be easier to
build editor sandboxes (jsbin,, etc) where errors inside the
sandbox could be caught by the editor and shown to the user.

Another feature of the stacktrace as an array is that a library could
manipulate the stack trace after it has been thrown, to hide the internals
of the library. This is similar to the black box feature in the Firefox
devtools. For example, a divide function which takes two integers could
throw an error when the second parameter is 0 (can't divide by zero). This
would result in the library internals ending up in the stack trace:

function calculate(x, y){
  return myIntegerMathLibrary.divide(2, x)*y;

calculate(0, 5)
Exception: Second parameter is '0'; can't divide by zero
divide at myIntegerMathLibrary/divide.js:15:15 <= this is library code,it's
not helpful to the developer
calculate at myApplication:2:3 <= this tells the developer where the problem
is in their code

If the library was allowed to manipulate the stack of the Error object
before throwing it, it could remove the top n lines that are internal to
it, which would help the developer locate the issue in their code.

Since all modern browsers implement a non-standard stack trace it is
possible to find out what file you are in and what line you are on by
throwing and catching an exception and analyzing the stack string. If stack
traces are added to the standard, then maybe a reflection API that can tell
what file and line the code is on should be added as well. The module meta
object will most likely get a filename property, but line number/character
number is not yet available.

Marius Gundersen
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