4.3 ECMAScript Overview
The following is an informal overview of ECMAScript—not all parts of the language are described. This overview is not part of the standard proper.
ECMAScript is object-based: basic language and
ECMAScript defines a collection of built-in objects that round out the definition of ECMAScript entities. These built-in objects include the
Symbol, and various
Error objects; objects that represent and manipulate numeric values including
Date; the text processing objects
RegExp; objects that are indexed collections of values including
Array and nine different kinds of Typed Arrays whose elements all have a specific numeric data representation; keyed collections including
Set objects; objects supporting structured data including the
DataView; objects supporting control abstractions including generator functions and
Promise objects; and reflection objects including
ECMAScript also defines a set of built-in operators. ECMAScript operators include various unary operations, multiplicative operators, additive operators, bitwise shift operators, relational operators, equality operators, binary bitwise operators, binary logical operators, assignment operators, and the comma operator.
Large ECMAScript programs are supported by modules which allow a program to be divided into multiple sequences of statements and declarations. Each module explicitly identifies declarations it uses that need to be provided by other modules and which of its declarations are available for use by other modules.
ECMAScript syntax intentionally resembles Java syntax. ECMAScript syntax is relaxed to enable it to serve as an easy-to-use scripting language. For example, a variable is not required to have its type declared nor are types associated with properties, and defined functions are not required to have their declarations appear textually before calls to them.
Even though ECMAScript includes syntax for class definitions, ECMAScript objects are not fundamentally class-based such as those in C++, Smalltalk, or Java. Instead objects may be created in various ways including via a literal notation or via constructors which create objects and then execute code that initializes all or part of them by assigning initial values to their properties. Each
new Date(2009, 11) creates a new Date object. Invoking a
Date() produces a string representation of the current date and time rather than an object.
Every object created by a
In a class-based object-oriented language, in general, state is carried by instances, methods are carried by classes, and inheritance is only of structure and behaviour. In ECMAScript, the state and methods are carried by objects, while structure, behaviour, and state are all inherited.
All objects that do not directly contain a particular property that their prototype contains share that property and its value. Figure 1 illustrates this:
CF is a
new expressions: cf1, cf2, cf3, cf4, and cf5. Each of these objects contains properties named
Unlike most class-based object languages, properties can be added to objects dynamically by assigning values to them. That is, constructors are not required to name or assign values to all or any of the constructed object's properties. In the above diagram, one could add a new shared property for cf1, cf2, cf3, cf4, and cf5 by assigning a new value to the property in CFp.
Although ECMAScript objects are not inherently class-based, it is often convenient to define class-like abstractions based upon a common pattern of
4.3.2 The Strict Variant of ECMAScript
The ECMAScript Language recognizes the possibility that some users of the language may wish to restrict their usage of some features available in the language. They might do so in the interests of security, to avoid what they consider to be error-prone features, to get enhanced error checking, or for other reasons of their choosing. In support of this possibility, ECMAScript defines a strict variant of the language. The strict variant of the language excludes some specific syntactic and semantic features of the regular ECMAScript language and modifies the detailed semantics of some features. The strict variant also specifies additional error conditions that must be reported by throwing error exceptions in situations that are not specified as errors by the non-strict form of the language.
The strict variant of ECMAScript is commonly referred to as the strict mode of the language. Strict mode selection and use of the strict mode syntax and semantics of ECMAScript is explicitly made at the level of individual ECMAScript source text units as described in
In order to conform to this specification, an ECMAScript implementation must implement both the full unrestricted ECMAScript language and the strict variant of the ECMAScript language as defined by this specification. In addition, an implementation must support the combination of unrestricted and strict mode source text units into a single composite program.