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If you are that old, you really ought to have better reading comprehension. My argument has nothing to do with Netscape, me, or my high horse.

Look, Netscape had a monopoly and put JS "on first" and just about everywhere. I'm done apologizing for that, I've made up for it in spades on standards work, and it's a fact I cannot recall and rewrite.

The precise point now, here on planet earth and not wherever you are, is that Google is not that new monopoly. Not yet, not likely for years even in their wildest dreams.

If Google were the monopoly Netscape was, sure: Dart would be the new JS. The two would co-exist for a long while but "replacement" would be conceivable so long as market power held up.

Since Google does not have monopoly power, and with the non-standardizing tactics of that leaked memo, Dart is unlikely to be adopted by other browsers. It's fragmenting. It's an invitation to others to inject their own would-be replacements and build a Tower of Babel.

Do you get my objection now?

"I'm done apologizing for that, I've made up for it in spades on standards work, and it's a fact I cannot recall and rewrite."

Wouldn't it be fair then to at least give Google the chance to do that standards work with Dart after it's released before labeling the company anti-open?

How early should a language be announced? It's certainly not cool to drop it on the world when it's done and baked , solicit zero feedback, and then demand the rest of the world implement it. But it's also not cool to toss out some vaporware spec with no implementation and no empirical evidence that the language is any good.

Look at what's actually happened, never mind the future:

1. Dart development (Dash, whatever, and there may be more, including CSS and HTML killers; not sure, rumors swirl) has been ongoing for approximately 2 years -- or more. It didn't start last November.

2. Google members of Ecma TC39 have been working on ES.next (some harder than others, I observe) without being able to show how Dart solves "unfixable" JS problems. Such demonstrations would help either:

2a. steer JS toward fixes if the "unfixable" assertion is false (as seems likely to me; little is unfixable on the web), or else:

2b. abandon doomed fix-the-unfixable attempts and instead work harder on other and fixable problems (e.g. being a better target language for Dart-to-JS compilation).

3. Delayed open-source means other browser vendors and volunteers have a high hill to climb to become committers/reviewers/co-owners, so Google controls the open source. This has happened many times. Competitors are unlikely to join, especially if the code is complex and has deep dependencies on other code (cf. NaCl/Pepper).

BTW, WebKit is an example more than a counter-example. It was Apple-dominated even though early-mostly-open, and now Google has taxed Apple committers/reviewers and is gaining the upper hand.

WebKit was early-open, a fork of KHTML at first, then set up as webkit.org in 2005 patterned after mozilla.org and in the aftermath of a recruit-half-the-Safari-team-to-fork-Firefox attempt by Flock. This history shows more open that closed, and earlier open at that, but mixed up with various intrigues and corporate control agendas.

While the history is not a clean win for any point of view, WebKit is a "commons" of its own. Note how chromium.org has to hold the Google-only extensions that Apple et al. won't take.

4. Standardization of Dart could happen anywhere, but it would be perceived as anywhere from wasteful to hostile for Google to bypass Ecma TC39. Early opening of a draft spec or even just an open-source implementation again could have won friends and influenced people on TC39. Late opening goes the other way.

What actually has happened, from what we already know: late-open.

My point isn't that you should apologize -- why should you? Any more than Sun should apologize for Java, or Microsoft for .NET Sometimes shit needs to get done, and people need to make things happen. Google is trying to fix some problems; no big deal. You see "Tower of Babel", I see the free market offering alternatives.

And don't be so quick to dismiss the likelihood of other browsers adopting Dart... If I'm not mistaken, IE supports Javascript, right?

Let's argue languages based on technical merits, not how or by whom they were developed.

Your point was, and I quote:

"Javascript itself was developed by a company (Netscape) in pretty much exactly the same way, for pretty much exactly the same reasons."

That's wrong on at least two counts:

1. ["same way"] Netscape had a monopoly, it wasn't injecting JS into a situation where there was already a scripting language widely used on the web and implemented among multiple competing browsers. It was not fragmenting a multi-lateral browser market or web content language ecosystem.

2. ["same reasons"] The Dart reasons adduced in the leaked memo are nothing like our reasons at Netscape for doing JS. We (marca and I, mostly) wanted a language for non-Java programmers, non-programmers even, which could be written directly in HTML. A language designers, beginners, amateurs could learn by the yard. We did that without failing to upgrade a prior such language already widely supported.

Dart, according to the leaked memo, aims to replace JS because JS can't be fixed. But who says JS can't be fixed? Why, the people making Dart, working at the dominant web company of the last decade! That's no "reason", it is a choice.

"I see the free market offering alternatives."

Uh huh. If Dart has native support only in Chrome, then it's not an alternative for people using other browsers. Then what?

The "free market" is a bogus political phrase. I'm in favor of markets: real ones that self-regulate by preventing fraud (a central clearing/blinding counter-party, bid/offer/open-interest/size transparency) and abuse of power (market winners capture governments -- this has happened throughout history, it's a big problem right now, see the Global Financial Crisis).

Talking about Google's anti-standards power games in the current multi-lateral browser market as if it's all "free market" goodness is b.s.

"If I'm not mistaken, IE supports Javascript, right?"

Think, floppybunny, think! IE supports JS because Netscape had a monopoly once it took over from Mosaic and grew the web via commercialization (SSL, another Netscape innovation). IE had no choice but to support "JScript", and indeed they were thus motivated to help standardize ES1. Standards, hmm.

Google has no such monopoly. The likely outcome of putting a native Dart VM into Chrome and (again per the leaked memo) using Dart for web app development in Google is not to make other browsers roll over and embed the native Dart VM as well.

Can you see Apple doing that? Microsoft? Mozilla would be expected to do it by all you bring-on-the-new-monopoly fanboys, but even if we did it wouldn't help.

We're in a multi-browser market. Competitors try (some harder than others, pace Alex Russell's latest blog post) to work together in standards bodies. This does not necessarily mean everything takes too long (Dart didn't take a month or a year -- it has been going longer than that, in secret).

Open standards development does not mean design-by-committee, either. Multi-browser collaboration among Apple, Mozilla, and Opera was what created HTML5.

Dart goes the wrong way and is likely to bounce off other browsers. It is therefore anti-open-web in my book. "The end justifies the means" slaves will say "but but but it'll eventually force things to get better". Maybe it will, but at high cost. More likely, it won't, and we'll have two problems (Dart and JS).

"Let's argue languages based on technical merits, not how or by whom they were developed."

Now that's just low. You know damn well that Google has kept Dart a secret, so none of us can assess its technical merit (maybe you work for Google and can?).

Sure, when Dart is released, let's argue in a new thread. This thread is about the fragmenting, essentially two-faced politics of the leaked JS strategy memo, and whether and why that's bad for the web.

If you want a new monopoly to sweep the web clean, bully for you. No such monopoly exists now, so realists will still have to work in standards bodies. Is Google really working in standards bodies? As Maciej Stachowiak points out in this thread and over on reddit, more and more of their extensions in Chrome are not being standardized, and apparently won't be proposed "later".

First of all, Javascript appeared in September 1995. A quick glance at the timeline of web browsers reveals that Netscape did NOT have a monopoly at that time. See http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/Timeline_...

In theory, you could have gotten input from Microsoft, IBM, Mosaic, and so forth before ever releasing Javascript. Did you? No. Even assuming that those other companies had an insignificant share of the market, and could safely be ignored, you still could have asked for public commentary on your design, like you're asking Google to do now. Did you? No again. It's hypocritical to blast Google for doing the exact same things you did, for the exact same reasons.

Secondly, every attempt to create a "programming language for non-programmers" has resulted in something horrible. According to wikipedia, "one of the design goals of COBOL was that non-programmers—managers, supervisors, and users—could read and understand the code. This is why COBOL has an English-like syntax and structural elements." When you are comparing your language design decisions to those made by COBOL, it is time to give up.

Your own stated rationale for getting Javascript done in 10 days was to "prevent something worse" from happening. This is the exact same reason why Google is developing Dart. The only difference is that for them, "something worse" is Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash, and Apple iPhone applications.

Right now, if I want an application that "feels native," Javascript is a no-go, and I have to use one of these (closed, proprietary) technologies. Shouldn't we be saluting Google for trying to make the situation better, rather than blasting them for not asking their competitors for a mother-may-I?

Dart is going to be an open platform that is well-supported by Chrome and Android. That alone should be enough to make it a viable choice. It's great that you created Javascript and that it became an open platform for everyone. Now someone is trying to build something even better. You should be helping them rather than raising objections which are illogical at best, and hypocritical at worst.

"First of all, Javascript appeared in September 1995. A quick glance at the timeline of web browsers reveals that Netscape did NOT have a monopoly at that time. See http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/Timeline_....

First of all, you did not cite market share numbers to show lack of an effective monopoly. You cited a fun wall chart of all the various browsers, most with tiny and non-growing if not rapidly shrinking market share back in 1995. Come on!

Edit: some stats from wikipedia:




Anyone around in the Netscape era knows that Netscape took over most of the market from Mosaic and smaller-share browsers, and evolved the web rapidly with proprietary (in the same sense I use against Google, however standardized later) extensions.

This led to Bill Gates' famous memo about the Internet Tidal Wave, and his cancellation of Microsoft's 1994-era AOL-killer, Project Blackbird.

Netscape dominated browser market share until IE came up to version 4, which was better on Windows than Netscape's old version 3 or very late version 4, and IE was bundled and locked-in hard to boot.

"It's hypocritical to blast Google ...."

Accusing me of hypocrisy shows ignorance of that word's definition in light of the history of my career.

I'm not practicing one thing and preaching another. I worked on JS standardization less than a year after shipping it in Netscape 2 beta. After that I co-founded mozilla.org. I'm not currently doing A and preaching not-A, nor have I been doing "proprietary" work for a long time. I've paid my dues.

Just FYI, like I owe you any explanations, Netscape did collaborate with Sun, gaining the "JavaScript" trademark license (a marketing scam, of course; I hated it). And I did collaborate with Bill Joy of Sun. But really, that's irrelevant.

Netscape was a monopoly in effect (it's very rare for a real-world monopoly to have 100% of the market). We did not have ability or time to make open standards of all our work. We knew, because Netscape had rejected a low-ball acquisition offer from Microsoft in late 1994, that Microsoft was coming after us. And we knew they had the power to kill us.

If we had not pushed hard to add programmability to the web (JS and Java in Netscape 2, plugins before in 1.1), then Microsoft would have been the reigning monopoly power, and would have abused that power (which did happen; it was prosecuted successfully).

So, though it's no justification in general, Netscape -- including my JS work -- did forestall a likely Microsoft push of their tech -- including VB as the Web scripting language. Monopoly good-cop/bad-cop act, or just history now, neither all "good" nor all "bad".

This is in contrast to today, where there is no browser monopoly and the top three have very close shares in many locales -- especially if you sort by model as well as make, and include WebKit variations on mobile, which is rising to eclipse desktop.

"Dart is going to be an open platform that is well-supported by Chrome and Android."

I think your sock-puppet is slipping. How do you know this? Do you work for Google?

Nice HN history you have, btw (two comments, both on this thread today). Why not do as on Google+ and use your real name? I have.

"1. ["same way"] Netscape had a monopoly, it wasn't injecting JS into a situation where there was already a scripting language widely used on the web and implemented among multiple competing browsers. It was not fragmenting a multi-lateral browser market or web content language ecosystem..."

"First of all, you did not cite market share numbers to show lack of an effective monopoly..."

"Netscape was a monopoly in effect (it's very rare for a real-world monopoly to have 100% of the market)..."

I don't think you know what the word monopoly means. Market-share is entirely irrelevant. What constitutes the definition (the reason the term even exists: what is meant to describe) is not how "big" a company is, but the _exclusivity_ (as in: is anyone else allowed to ENTER that sector of the market). And using the words "effective monopoly" or "in practice/real world" doesn't work as a permission to misuse the term, either. In fact, it does the opposite. Actual real-world "effective" monopolies would be: An entity holding a patent for some invention, the State having exclusive control of force, etc, etc.

Some company being "the only company who is currently doing X" is not a monopoly, as long as anyone else can enter the market.


BTW many of us developers are totally against the evil "effective monopoly" (see what I did there :P) that this not-so-pretty JavaScript language has in the world of web development, so the idea of more options doesn't sound bad at all.

Because last time I checked, there was no axiomatic law embedded in the fabric of the universe which stated that "Every desired improvement and/or business endeavor in the realm of browser scripting should be expressed in the form of a proposal for a next version of JavaScript, over at http://wiki.ecmascript.org, or else the oh-so-heavenly multilateral dimension of the interweb net will fragment and spiral down eventually collapsing into a black hole made of kittens"

Dart is probably going to suck, though (and Java-stained ideas polluting its design will probably be the cause). Also, unless Chrome wants to commit suicide, it's gonna keep supporting JS in the current and future versions, so you JS people should put a halt to this soap opera. Pause thy bitchfest.

I defer to your economic terminology expertise, but Netscape did have 80% of the market during a huge growth phase (people extrapolated exponential growth from a few months or quarters in '95 and '96). What's the term for that position?

Whatever you call it, if Google had that now or very soon, it could indeed ship new stuff and "make it stick". Since it doesn't have that power, I repeat that Dart is fragmenting.

No one is obligated to work on extending existing standards only, not try injecting new ones. Doing both without market power to make the new ones stick is going to make a mess in my view. I keep saying this, do you disagree?

I'm the last person who wants to save JS from extinction. If it were cheap enough to kill, I'd do the deed myself. It's not cheap to kill -- quite the reverse -- and the leaked memo's assertions about it being unfixable are exaggerations at best, and betray a significant conflict within Google.

(BTW I agree there's a smell of "Java-stained ideas polluting [Dart's] design.")

If TC39 had a crack at standardizing Dart or putting ideas from it into ES6, everyone would be better off -- even if Google then launched Dart anyway.

Instead, while we in TC39 were working in the open on ES6 (which is past new-proposal freeze), we knew nothing. That is not just missed opportunity, I call it poor stewardship on Google's part.

“Right now, if I want an application that ‘feels native,’ Javascript is a no-go, and I have to use one of these (closed, proprietary) technologies.”

Not true – look at what Microsoft does with Windows 8.

I explicitly support Brendan's arguments. Programming languages are a STANDARD to help people COMMUNICATE units of functionality. If we frequently invent new languages that just mainly give us a new "style" to do things (and of course some will do this better, and others will do that better), we get an unnecessary chaos of different codebases that will be incompatible to each other but yet do basically the same. (1) Language design implies even more responsibility in versioning and adaptation to new programming paradigms than API design. Let me again cite Atwood's Law: "Any application that can be written in JavaScript, will eventually be written in JavaScript." (see http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2009/08/all-programming-is-... ) It doesn't matter that much in which language a program is written, as long as the language level fits the level of your module / application and portabiliy (1) is high. I would even vote against a separate module type and other experiments that complicate JS sytax. But this is, of course, another discussion. What I like and heavily use is CoffeeScript. Thank you Brandon for keeping things in order!

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