The EcmaScript specification

ziizium profile image Habdul Hazeez ・2 min read

A specification often refers to a set of documented requirements to be satisfied by a material, design, product, or service. A specification is often a type of technical standard.

Modern libraries and frameworks often have a documentation that contains detailed explanations and code examples on how to use the library or framework. Examples include the ReactJS documentation and VueJS documentation.

Programming languages like JavaScript have a specification which contains algorithms and requirements that implementers should adhere to when implementing the language.

The JavaScript (or EcmaScript) specification contains a set of guidelines for implementing the language.

The specification is really technical and it’s meant to be used by browser vendors or server side applications that implement the language but, at times you might run into a coding problem and the spec might be the only thing that will provide an answer for you or at least give you an overview of what's going on under the hood.

From a beginners point of view you won't need to look at the specification but, as you progress in your coding career with enough experience the specification can come in really handy.

Reading and understanding the specification is not an easy thing unless you have an understanding of algorithms and can comprehend the Backus-Naur Form but there is help around the corner.

Timothy Gu created a living document titled — How to read the EcmaScript Specification.

Timothy has this to say for new JavaScript developers:

I do not recommend reading the ECMAScript specification to developers new to JavaScript. If you are new to JavaScript, then play around with the web! build some web apps! or some JavaScript-based nannycams! or anything! and consider returning to this document when you have either experienced enough JavaScript warts or gotten rich enough to not have to worry about JavaScript.

Now you might ask: If its not meant for beginners why mention it?

I mentioned it so that you'll know when and how to find help when you can not express yourself to a search engine or a question and answer platform like Stackoverflow.

The best thing to do now is to open the link to the specifcation and timothy's document on how to read it then bookmark them for future reference when you are comfortable with JavaScript.

Up next, a quick introduction to programming.

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Habdul Hazeez


I teach and write code with interests in Web Development, Computer Security, and Artificial Intelligence.


Editor guide

The documentation is indeed intimidating for beginners :D