Kris Zyp, a researcher at SitePen and the Dojo Foundation's representative on the committee, said, "Our interest is empowering the Web developers, not seeing ECMAScript as a pure research language."
Many of the ideas that some committee members wanted to bring to the ECMAScript 4.0 standard are well known by programmers, but they're often associated with other languages and other styles of writing code. Some wanted ECMAScript 4.0 to include stronger ways for the programmer to specify the type of each variable, a more structured approach that's required by languages like Java.
ECMAScript 4.0 – now abandoned in favor of a more modest ECMAScript 3.1 proposal – was also going to have more sophisticated namespaces or packages that would prevent conflicts when two developers inadvertently use the same name for different methods.
Coders on big projects often crave these missing features because the structure helps avoid bugs and other problems. Language features such as dividing code into namespaces and adding types for the data structures are essential for keeping bigger projects functioning. When programming teams grow larger than one person, mind reading is harder than forcing the developers to use some extra structure. Adobe, for instance, incorporated many of these ideas into ActionScript to help developers create bigger, more sophisticated components that could be deployed through the browser. Much of the ECMAScript 4.0 standard was inspired by ActionScript and one of its spiritual forebears, Java.
Thomas Fuchs, the creator of the popular Script.aculo.us framework, said that he won't miss any of these new ideas. "Lean is better, and less language features make for better interpreters." he said. "Think of mobile or embedded devices where performance is limited."