4 min read

ECMAScript 2018 –  also known as ES9 – is now complete with lots of features.

Since the major features released with ECMAScript 2015 the language has matured with yearly update releases. After multiple draft submissions and completion of the 5-stage process, the TC39 committee has finalized the set of features that will be rolled out in June. The full list of proposals that were submitted to TC39 committee can be viewed in Github repository.

What are the key features of ECMAScript 2018?

Let’s have a quick look at the key ES9 features and how it is going to add value to web developers.

Lifting template literal restriction

Template literals generally allow the embedding of languages such as DSLs. However, restrictions on escape sequences make this quite complicated. Removing the restriction will create difficulty in handling cooked template values containing illegal escape sequences. The proposed feature will redefine the cooked value for illegal escape sequences to “undefined”. This lifting of restriction will allow illegal values like \xerxes and makes embedding of language simpler. The detailed proposal with templates can be viewed at Github.

Asynchronous iterators

The newer version will provide syntactic support for asynchronous iteration with both AsyncIterable and AsyncIterator protocols. The syntactic support will help in reading lines of text from HTTP connection easily. In my opinion, this is one of the most important and useful features which make the code looks simpler. It introduces a new IterationStatement, for-await-of, and also adds syntax which can create async generator functions. The detailed proposal can be viewed at Github.

Promise.prototype.finally library

As you are aware promise make execution of callback functions easy. Many promise libraries have a “finally” method through which you can run code no matter how the Promise provides resolution. It works by registering a callback which gets invoked when a promise gets fulfilled or denied. Bluebird, Q, and when are some examples. The detailed proposal can be viewed at Github.

Unicode property escapes in regular expressions

The ECMAScript 2018 version will have addition of Unicode property escapes `\p{…}` and `\P{…}` to regular expressions. These are a new and unique type of escape sequences with u flag set. With this feature, one can create Unicode-aware regular expressions with utmost ease. These escapes are easily readable, compact and get updated automatically from ECMAScript engine. The detailed proposal can be viewed at Github.

RegExp lookbehind assertions

Assertions are regular expressions which consist of anchors and lookarounds that either succeeds or fails based on the match found. ECMAScript has extended assertion, that does lookaround in forward direction, with lookbehind assertions that does in backward direction. This assertion will be helpful in instances like validating a dollar amount without capturing the dollar sign where a pattern/design is or is not preceded by another. The detailed proposal can be viewed at Github.

Object Rest/spread properties

The earlier version of ECMAScript includes rest and spread properties for array literals. Likewise, the newer version would be introducing rest and so read elements for object literals. Both these operations for Object would help in extracting properties which we want along with removing unwanted ones. The detailed proposal can be viewed at Github.

RegExp named capture groups

Capture Groups is another RegExp feature, similar to so called “named Groups” in Java and Python. With this, you can write RegExp to provide names in a format viz. (?…) for different parts of the group. This allows you to use that name and grab whichever group you need in a simplistic way. The detailed proposal can be viewed at Github.

s ‘dotAll’ flag for regular expressions

In regular expression patterns, the earlier version allows dot (.) to match any character but with astral and line terminator characters like \n \f etc, creating regex was complicated. The newer version proposes addition of a new s flag which can match any character, including astral and line terminators. The detailed proposal can be viewed at Github.

When will ECMAScript 2018 be available?

All of the features above are expected to be implemented and available in browsers this year. It’s in the name after all. But there are likely to be even more new features and capabilities in the 2019 release. Read this to get a clearer picture of what’s likely to feature in the 2019 release.


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