Writing ECMAScript 4, Today

A very cool new utility has just been released by Olav Junker Kjær called Mascara which is an ECMAScript 4 to JavaScript translator (written in Python).

Using this utility you can begin writing ECMAScript 4 code today, receiving its full benefits (such as IDE integration and compile-time type-checking) while still being able to run the resulting code in all modern browsers.

A simple demonstration is up on the Mascara web site which provides a view into the translated source code, along with run-time (and inline) error messages.

A full break-down of the features currently supported are:

  • Type verification
  • Classes and inheritance, constructors, super initializers
  • Static members
  • Type inference from initialization
  • Parameterized types, Map and Vector
  • Union types
  • Structural types
  • Getters/setters
  • Namespaces
  • Nullable types

Definitely be aware, however, that while the above feature list is more than enough to get started there are still a a few items left to be implemented.

The most important question, when looking at the above code, should be: How do I begin using this today? Olav went ahead and made it easy to do IDE integration – even setting up instructions on how to integrate with Eclipse on Windows (he currently shows how to integrate using the JScript command-line interface, but it can easily be expanded). I’m quite excited by this prospect – having the ability to do compile-time type-checking and be able to succinctly write classes with inheritance will be a major boon to development.

Additionally, he provides information on how to do automatic CGI translation (naturally, you would want to do this only in a development environment).

He’s continuing to provide frequent updates on the Mascara blog – be sure to follow along if you’re interested in starting to use ECMAScript 4 sooner, rather than later.

Posted: June 10th, 2008

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