JavaScript and evidence-based language design

Author’s note: Hi, I’m an engineer at Mozilla working on the Firefox DevTools server. I’m also a TC39 representative. This post focuses on some of the experiments I am trying out at the TC39, the standards body that manages the JavaScript specification. A follow up post will follow…


In what ways can empirical evidence be used in the design of a language like JavaScript? What kind of impact would a more direct connection to developers give us? As stewards of the JavaScript specification, how do we answer questions about the design of JavaScript and help make it accessible to the thousands of new coders who join the industry each year? To answer this we need to experiment, and I need your help.

Enter stage left: a survey

I know, it isn’t so exciting. It’s a survey. We are testing whether or not the methods used in this survey provide useful information about specific parts of a proposal. In other words, we are testing how we can identify different factors related to code: Cognitive load, error proneness, readability, and learn-ability.

The goal is to see what we can learn from the data you share. Whether it will be useful remains to be seen. This is the first attempt to do this, so it will not be perfect.

This is also why I need everyone’s help. Whatever your background, your responses will be very much appreciated. You might be learning JavaScript as your first language, coming to JavaScript from another language, or working in the language professionally.

Well, I hope I have gotten everyone excited to take a survey. I am certainly excited. It is estimated to be 15 minutes, I hope it is enjoyable!

Here is the survey link again.

About Yulia Startsev

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17 comments

  1. Sam

    I enjoyed the survey!

    May 29th, 2019 at 08:46

    Reply

  2. DD

    I took the survey!

    Good luck, I hope the responses are helpful!

    May 29th, 2019 at 09:16

    Reply

  3. Eugene

    I believe there’s an error with closing parens in pickles example: there’s 5 opening ones, but 6 closing ones The last one obv shouldn’t be there, since we ferment for 2 days

    May 29th, 2019 at 09:49

    Reply

    1. Yulia Startsev

      thanks for catching that!

      June 3rd, 2019 at 00:58

      Reply

  4. Aaron

    I enjoyed the survey – thanks for sharing. The proposal referenced in the survey is definitely promising.

    May 29th, 2019 at 13:33

    Reply

  5. Louis

    Very interesting proposals. :)

    After taking the survey — really, take the survey blind, first — then afterward have a look at https://git.io/fj0uR — you can consider getting started with it today, and if the syntax changes in future, a refactoring script will likely be available, see https://git.io/fj0uz (as an aside, did you know GitHub has its own official URL shortener? I did not, but it’s awesome!)

    May 29th, 2019 at 21:02

    Reply

  6. Piotr

    Great survey!
    Only one remark: there’s a typo: “ogorki” -> “ogórki” and in Polish we’d rather write the mamę od metal in reverse order: “ogórki małosolne”.

    May 30th, 2019 at 06:35

    Reply

    1. Piotr

      Sorry, my typo this time: “the mamę od metal” -> “the name of the meal”. Auto-correction killed me :)

      May 30th, 2019 at 06:38

      Reply

      1. Yulia Startsev

        hah thanks, will fix the naming

        June 3rd, 2019 at 00:59

        Reply

  7. Ditofry

    Cool proposal, I really hope this gets through!

    May 30th, 2019 at 14:19

    Reply

  8. Jiang Xuan

    yeah, i also enjoyed the survey.

    May 31st, 2019 at 00:43

    Reply

  9. rjk

    daikon kimchi is good too! big ole cubed radish

    May 31st, 2019 at 10:26

    Reply

  10. Peter

    Thanks for sharing the survey. Personally, I do find surveys exciting, as well as new language features. It was enjoyable and it’s nice to feel like the larger JavaScript community is included (even if only tangentially or anecdotally) in TC39’s work.

    June 2nd, 2019 at 13:37

    Reply

  11. Martin K.

    Reminded me of the little Haskell exposure we got in some functional programming lectures.

    Was worth the time.

    I’m just wondering how often I’d use that in practice. Most of the time I’d either work with RxJS in Angular apps or in with the list operators (map, filter, etc.) on an array.

    June 3rd, 2019 at 01:45

    Reply

  12. Sam Jr.

    I finished the survey!
    Can I get a sticker or something :P

    But on the more serious side, are we going to see results of the survey? Something like a blog article were you talk about the things you’ve learnt would be cool.

    June 6th, 2019 at 13:50

    Reply

  13. Vincent

    It appears some of the image are blocked now, e.g. for me
    https://lh3.google.com/NX_OKXErSwRTnsNo6VRG12_B41qiZ9wBalAPHPoFu22Y6VnxbA1XZk7uK8ZdgAp9T1DnTTFEs9E5p-o=s1934-w1934-h480-no

    And someone else mentioned this one:
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/0zZc8pL1GtSDX1Zmr_QuOQs5c4io2OJslFUTYW2D6pIsaKz_QuGzvOBBXHUPo8hxS3KDLuoafnGNKcQxzJyGDO9-P4Ec50natUImre8FfKFGh1_uGwD-4-hxmdw8uEjdscA1mqxZqN0h24LXOFd3d6eUVCNveFPeFv-rLckfcEuPU1QhRwVmntCNFkLPUDiRduA03H7RFhWnDQ2AC_POq6wzqnhpkCKxB1k8j-PfBifqzCBNqILDIRhSwMdbrumGE2tDGNS752qPuHNji0yRgaVFTp48Kipu1SermOsjGZ9CLv58iq__rvy8lnnGTgb3qlZ-nv0ubgzmGWQXEWLdwvnjM9h9_cD1aj5TO-ue36p4O1buY4l9ho9MGiqVbaN8jO-XWmPJJ38L3QOt6Dy7yJbevxCxiaBSMfo2dAS4ov0IWMa9NCzRSynIYk06lI2s9wIIf9FOzT07e9mI7dfXjj-ZW7kn1_miTWWXd-IRbBx7b3TIZLAIvzTVy7cMRBDcq3MrP30YXPI4H7GL8ipQPlafVSrkjRzF_U_BKw10De-wuC7cnVOIKiWvp-5BpdynTycOru-VDKSdEYist5Eiet7xz21XQMt9_T4=s1930-w1930-h476-no

    Visiting them directly brings up a Google Accounts sign-in form.

    June 6th, 2019 at 23:23

    Reply

    1. Yulia Startsev

      Thank you. Please try it now, it should be fixed

      June 7th, 2019 at 00:23

      Reply

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