What is ECMAScript?

ECMAScript is a standard scripting language specification based on JavaScript. It was developed to standardize JavaScript and facilitate its interoperability among web browsers and other environments. The European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) maintains the ECMAScript standard through its technical committee, TC39. Standardizing JavaScript through ECMAScript has been crucial in ensuring that JavaScript code behaves consistently across different platforms.

History of ECMAScript

  • ECMAScript 1 (ES1): The first edition was released in June 1997.
  • ECMAScript 2 (ES2): Released in 1998, this edition was a minor update to align with the ISO/IEC standard.
  • ECMAScript 3 (ES3): Introduced in 1999, ES3 brought significant improvements, including regular expressions, try/catch exception handling, and more.
  • ECMAScript 5 (ES5): Released in December 2009, ES5 added "strict mode," JSON support, and enhanced array manipulation methods. There was no ES4 in the sequence; the ES4 draft introduced many changes that led to disagreements and was eventually abandoned.
  • ECMAScript 6 (ES6)/ECMAScript 2015: A major update introduced in 2015, it brought significant new syntax for writing complex applications, including classes, modules, template literals, arrow functions, promises, and many other features. It was the first edition to use the yearly naming convention.
  • Subsequent Versions: After ES6, ECMAScript versions have been named by year (e.g., ECMAScript 2016 (ES7), ECMAScript 2017 (ES8)), reflecting the TC39 committee's shift to a yearly release cycle to ensure more incremental and manageable updates.

Key Features of ECMAScript

  • Syntax: Defines the syntax rules for writing code, including declarations, variables, expressions, operators, and statements.
  • Types: Specifies data types, such as Number, String, Boolean, Object, and more, including complex data structures.
  • Standard Library: Provides built-in objects and functions that facilitate common programming tasks, such as manipulating arrays, strings, dates, and regular expressions.
  • Semantics: Defines how the syntax and commands work within the scripting language to perform operations and compute values.

Importance of ECMAScript

  • Cross-platform Compatibility: Ensures that scripts written in ECMAScript can run consistently across different web browsers and environments.
  • Innovation and Evolution: Facilitates the introduction of new features and improvements to the language, driving innovation in web development.
  • Interoperability: Promotes the development of interoperable implementations by different vendors, enhancing the web ecosystem.

ECMAScript vs. JavaScript

While JavaScript is the most widely known implementation of ECMAScript, it's important to note that other scripting languages can also implement ECMAScript standards. JavaScript includes features not part of the ECMAScript standard, such as Document Object Model (DOM) manipulation, which is specific to web browsers. Essentially, ECMAScript provides the core language foundation, while JavaScript encompasses the ECMAScript standard and additional features typically used in web development.


ECMAScript plays a crucial role in developing scripting languages, serving as the core standard for building JavaScript. ECMAScript standards' ongoing development and evolution ensure that languages like JavaScript remain powerful, flexible, and consistent across different platforms, driving advancements in web technology and application development.

See Also

ECMAScript is the standardized scripting language specification upon which JavaScript is based. It was developed to standardize JavaScript, making it more uniform across web browsers. ECMA International oversees the specification through the technical committee TC39. ECMAScript defines the syntax, types, statements, keywords, and objects that should be present in a scripting language adhering to the standard.

  • JavaScript: Discussing the most widely used implementation of ECMAScript, focusing on its role in web development and beyond.
  • TC39: Covering the committee responsible for ECMAScript standards development, including the proposal stages for new features.
  • WebAssembly: Explaining the binary instruction format designed as a target for high-level languages like C/C++/Rust, complementing JavaScript on the web.
  • TypeScript: Discussing the superset of JavaScript that adds static types, compiled down to ECMAScript standards for broad compatibility.
  • Babel: Covering the JavaScript compiler that allows developers to use next-generation ECMAScript features by converting them into a backward-compatible version of JavaScript.
  • Node.js: Explaining the JavaScript runtime built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine, utilizing ECMAScript for server-side applications.
  • Web Development: Discussing the use of ECMAScript in the context of building interactive and dynamic web applications.
  • Polyfills: Covering code implementations that provide modern functionality on older browsers that do not natively support it, allowing developers to use ECMAScript features not yet available in those browsers.
  • Front-End Development Frameworks: Discussing frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue.js that are influenced by ECMAScript standards in their design and functionality.
  • Module Loaders and Bundlers: Explaining tools like Webpack and Rollup that manage and bundle ECMAScript modules for efficient loading in web applications.