Overview of ECMAScript 6 features

Introduction

ECMAScript 6, also known as ECMAScript 2015, is the latest version of the ECMAScript standard. ES6 is a significant update to the language, and the first update to the language since ES5 was standardized in 2009. Implementation of these features in major JavaScript engines is underway now.

See the ES6 standard for full specification of the ECMAScript 6 language.

ES6 includes the following new features:

ECMAScript 6 Features

Arrows

Arrows are a function shorthand using the => syntax. They are syntactically similar to the related feature in C#, Java 8 and CoffeeScript. They support both statement block bodies as well as expression bodies which return the value of the expression. Unlike functions, arrows share the same lexical this as their surrounding code.

// Expression bodies
var odds = evens.map(v => v + 1);
var nums = evens.map((v, i) => v + i);
var pairs = evens.map(v => ({even: v, odd: v + 1}));

// Statement bodies
nums.forEach(v => {
  if (v % 5 === 0)
    fives.push(v);
});

// Lexical this
var bob = {
  _name: "Bob",
  _friends: [],
  printFriends() {
    this._friends.forEach(f =>
      console.log(this._name + " knows " + f));
  }
}

More info: MDN Arrow Functions

Classes

ES6 classes are a simple sugar over the prototype-based OO pattern. Having a single convenient declarative form makes class patterns easier to use, and encourages interoperability. Classes support prototype-based inheritance, super calls, instance and static methods and constructors.

class SkinnedMesh extends THREE.Mesh {
  constructor(geometry, materials) {
    super(geometry, materials);

    this.idMatrix = SkinnedMesh.defaultMatrix();
    this.bones = [];
    this.boneMatrices = [];
    //...
  }
  update(camera) {
    //...
    super.update();
  }
  get boneCount() {
    return this.bones.length;
  }
  set matrixType(matrixType) {
    this.idMatrix = SkinnedMesh[matrixType]();
  }
  static defaultMatrix() {
    return new THREE.Matrix4();
  }
}

More info: MDN Classes

Enhanced Object Literals

Object literals are extended to support setting the prototype at construction, shorthand for foo: foo assignments, defining methods, making super calls, and computing property names with expressions. Together, these also bring object literals and class declarations closer together, and let object-based design benefit from some of the same conveniences.

var obj = {
    // __proto__
    __proto__: theProtoObj,
    // Shorthand for ‘handler: handler’
    handler,
    // Methods
    toString() {
     // Super calls
     return "d " + super.toString();
    },
    // Computed (dynamic) property names
    [ 'prop_' + (() => 42)() ]: 42
};

More info: MDN Grammar and types: Object literals

Template Strings

Template strings provide syntactic sugar for constructing strings. This is similar to string interpolation features in Perl, Python and more. Optionally, a tag can be added to allow the string construction to be customized, avoiding injection attacks or constructing higher level data structures from string contents.

// Basic literal string creation
`In JavaScript '\n' is a line-feed.`

// Multiline strings
`In JavaScript this is
 not legal.`

// String interpolation
var name = "Bob", time = "today";
`Hello ${name}, how are you ${time}?`

// Construct an HTTP request prefix is used to interpret the replacements and construction
POST`http://foo.org/bar?a=${a}&b=${b}
     Content-Type: application/json
     X-Credentials: ${credentials}
     { "foo": ${foo},
       "bar": ${bar}}`(myOnReadyStateChangeHandler);

More info: MDN Template Strings

Destructuring

Destructuring allows binding using pattern matching, with support for matching arrays and objects. Destructuring is fail-soft, similar to standard object lookup foo["bar"], producing undefined values when not found.

// list matching
var [a, , b] = [1,2,3];

// object matching
var { op: a, lhs: { op: b }, rhs: c }
       = getASTNode()

// object matching shorthand
// binds `op`, `lhs` and `rhs` in scope
var {op, lhs, rhs} = getASTNode()

// Can be used in parameter position
function g({name: x}) {
  console.log(x);
}
g({name: 5})

// Fail-soft destructuring
var [a] = [];
a === undefined;

// Fail-soft destructuring with defaults
var [a = 1] = [];
a === 1;

More info: MDN Destructuring assignment

Default + Rest + Spread

Callee-evaluated default parameter values. Turn an array into consecutive arguments in a function call. Bind trailing parameters to an array. Rest replaces the need for arguments and addresses common cases more directly.

function f(x, y=12) {
  // y is 12 if not passed (or passed as undefined)
  return x + y;
}
f(3) == 15
function f(x, ...y) {
  // y is an Array
  return x * y.length;
}
f(3, "hello", true) == 6
function f(x, y, z) {
  return x + y + z;
}
// Pass each elem of array as argument
f(...[1,2,3]) == 6

More MDN info: Default parameters, Rest parameters, Spread Operator

Let + Const

Block-scoped binding constructs. let is the new var. const is single-assignment. Static restrictions prevent use before assignment.

function f() {
  {
    let x;
    {
      // okay, block scoped name
      const x = "sneaky";
      // error, const
      x = "foo";
    }
    // error, already declared in block
    let x = "inner";
  }
}

More MDN info: let statement, const statement

Iterators + For..Of

Iterator objects enable custom iteration like CLR IEnumerable or Java Iterable. Generalize for..in to custom iterator-based iteration with for..of. Don’t require realizing an array, enabling lazy design patterns like LINQ.

let fibonacci = {
  [Symbol.iterator]() {
    let pre = 0, cur = 1;
    return {
      next() {
        [pre, cur] = [cur, pre + cur];
        return { done: false, value: cur }
      }
    }
  }
}

for (var n of fibonacci) {
  // truncate the sequence at 1000
  if (n > 1000)
    break;
  console.log(n);
}

Iteration is based on these duck-typed interfaces (using TypeScript type syntax for exposition only):

interface IteratorResult {
  done: boolean;
  value: any;
}
interface Iterator {
  next(): IteratorResult;
}
interface Iterable {
  [Symbol.iterator](): Iterator
}

More info: MDN for…of

Generators

Generators simplify iterator-authoring using function* and yield. A function declared as function* returns a Generator instance. Generators are subtypes of iterators which include additional next and throw. These enable values to flow back into the generator, so yield is an expression form which returns a value (or throws).

Note: Can also be used to enable ‘await’-like async programming, see also ES7 await proposal.

var fibonacci = {
  [Symbol.iterator]: function*() {
    var pre = 0, cur = 1;
    for (;;) {
      var temp = pre;
      pre = cur;
      cur += temp;
      yield cur;
    }
  }
}

for (var n of fibonacci) {
  // truncate the sequence at 1000
  if (n > 1000)
    break;
  console.log(n);
}

The generator interface is (using TypeScript type syntax for exposition only):

interface Generator extends Iterator {
    next(value?: any): IteratorResult;
    throw(exception: any);
}

More info: MDN Iteration protocols

Unicode

Non-breaking additions to support full Unicode, including new Unicode literal form in strings and new RegExp u mode to handle code points, as well as new APIs to process strings at the 21bit code points level. These additions support building global apps in JavaScript.

// same as ES5.1
"

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