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>* Web != Desktop. Large desktop apps are the wrong paradigm on the web. You won't see a Web-based Mathematica rewritten by hand in HTML/JS/etc. You will see Emscripten-compiled 3DS Max (see my blog on OTOY for more). The reasons behind these outcomes should be clear. They have little to do with JS lacking Java's big-OO features.

I am actually not defending big-OO features (I think, 90s style big-OO is obsolete). I like mix of OO and functional programming and like the results which it confers to code (see for example, Reactive Extensions, it's very easy to learn, expressive, and compact). The feature which I miss in JavaScript and which platforms such as JVM and .NET have, is ease of maintaining code, mainly through sound type system and languages created with tooling in mind.

>* Glad you brought up refactoring. It is doable in JS IDEs with modern, aggressive static analysis. See not only TypeScript but also Marijn Haverbeke's Tern and work by Ben Livshits, et al., at MSR.

The problem with algorithms similar to Tern's is that it works well until we use reflexive capabilities of the language. However, most of the libraries do use them, and as long as it happens, algorithms such as Tern's infer useless type Object.

>But automated refactoring is not as much in demand among Web developers I know, who do it by hand and who in general avoid the big-OO "Kingdom of Nouns" approach that motivates auto-refactoring.

There are refactoring which can be useful in any language. My favorite one is rename, I usually can't come up with a good name from a first attempt. Others are extract/inline method (extract/inline variable is easy to implement in JavaScript).

Another maintainability related feature is navigation to definition and find usages. Unfortunately, language dynamism makes them imprecise and code maintenance becomes nightmare especially if you have > 30 KLOCs of code. You have to recheck everything manually and it's very error prone. Tests can help, but they also require substantial effort.




Tern's static analysis is based loosely on SpiderMonkey's type inference, which does well with most JS libraries.

Yes, some overloaded octopus methods fall back on Object. What helps the SpiderMonkey type-inference-driven JIT is online live-data profiling, as Marijn notes. This may be the crucial difference.

However, new algorithms such as CFA2 promise more precision even without runtime feedback.

And I suggest you are missing the bigger picture: TypeScript, Dart, et al., require (unsound) type annotations, a tax on all programmers, in hope of gaining better tooling of the kind you work on.

Is this a good trade? Users will vote with their fingers provided the tools show up. In big orgs (Google, where Closure is still used to preprocess JS) they may, but in general, no.

Renaming is just not high-enough frequency from what I hear to motivate JS devs to swallow type annotation.

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>And I suggest you are missing the bigger picture: TypeScript, Dart, et al., require (unsound) type annotations, a tax on all programmers, in hope of gaining better tooling of the kind you work on.

In many cases types can be inferred. ML is able to infer almost all types in a program (however the algorithm requires that the language doesn't have subtyping). Haskell has very good type inference which support subtyping (you declare very few types). They both have strong static type system and don't tax developers by making them having to declare every type. Algorithms which are used in Haskell are complicated, but they can be implemented.


I know about ML and Haskell but let's be realistic. Neither is anywhere near ready to embed in a browser or mix into a future version of JS.

We worked in the context of ES4 on gradual typing -- not just inference (as you imply, H-M is fragile) -- to cope with the dynamic code loading inherent in the client side of the Web. Gradual typing is a research program, nowhere near ready for prime time.

Unsound systems such as TypeScript and Dart are good for warnings but nothing is guaranteed at runtime.

A more modular approach such as Typed Racket could work, but again: Research, and TR requires modules and contracts of a Scheme-ish kind. JS is just getting modules in ES6.

Anyway, your point of reference was more practical systems such as Java and .NET but these do require too much annotation, even with 'var' in C#. Or so JS developers tell me.

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