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What are ECMAScript, ECMA-262, and JavaScript?

rembrandtreyes profile image Rembrandt Reyes ・2 min read

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Throughout my career, I have heard many people talk about ECMA, ECMAScript, ES5, ES6, ESNext, ES and beyond. What are all these things and how do they point to JavaScript? Let's trace back to 1960 when a "Committee was nominated to prepare the formation of the Association and to draw up By-laws and Rules."(ECMA history) which would be called, European Computer Manufacturers Association or ECMA for short.

Before you get into JavaScript you should understand the history of it all. So let's take a trip down history lane to learn more about ECMA, ECMAScript, ECMA-262, and TC39 and how they all play a role in the JavaScript we love today.

ECMA - On 17th May 1961 the Association officially came into being and all those Companies which attended the original meeting became members. The constituent assembly was held on 17th June 1961 (ECMA history).

ECMA-262 - Each specification comes with a standard and a committee. You can find all the ECMA standards here. In JavaScript's case, its standard is associated with ECMA-262 and its committee is TC39

ECMAScript or ES - is a general-purpose programming language, standardized by ECMA International according to the document ECMA-262. ECMAScript is a programming language itself, specified in the document ECMA-262. Although ECMAScript is inspired by JavaScript, they are different programming languages, and ECMAScript is not the specification of JavaScript (wiki).

Now let's talk about JavaScript. The standard for JavaScript is ECMAScript. You might see some other popular references like ECMAScript 5 or ES5 and ECMAScript 6 or ES6. These are all editions of ECMAScript and they relate to how we implement JavaScript in the browser. As of mid-2017 most common browsers fully support ES6.

Fascinating! Now you know a bit of web development history. So go out there and tell all your friends the differences of all these ECMA*'s and put that knowledge to good use.

But wait, how do all these standards get passed for JavaScript? Good question! You can find out more about proposals of ECMAScript and how it goes through (stages)[https://tc39.es/process-document/]

Posted on Jun 29 by:

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Rembrandt Reyes


I am here to make myself a better engineer. I create things for the web using the ReactJS ecosystem.


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