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ECMAScript is the scripting language standardized by Ecma International in the ECMA-262 specification and ISO/IEC 16262. The language is widely used for client-side scripting on the web, in the form of several well-known implementations such as JavaScript, JScript and ActionScript.

JavaScript was originally developed by Brendan Eich of Netscape under the name Mocha, later LiveScript, and finally renamed to JavaScript. In December 1995, Sun Microsystems and Netscape announced JavaScript in a press release. In March 1996, Netscape Navigator 2.0 was released, featuring support for JavaScript.

Owing to the widespread success of JavaScript as a client-side scripting language for web pages, Microsoft developed a compatible dialect of the language, naming it JScript to avoid trademark issues. JScript added new date methods to fix the non-Y2K-friendly methods in JavaScript, which were based on the Java Date class. JScript was included in Internet Explorer 3.0, released in August 1996.ecma

Netscape delivered JavaScript to Ecma International for standardization and the work on the specification, ECMA-262, began in November 1996. The first edition of ECMA-262 was adopted by the Ecma General Assembly of June 1997. Several editions of the language standard have been published since then.

ECMAScript is the name of the scripting language standardized in ECMA-262. The name “ECMAScript” was a compromise between the organizations involved in standardizing the language, especially Netscape and Microsoft, whose disputes dominated the early standards sessions. Eich commented that “ECMAScript was always an unwanted trade name that sounds like a skin disease.”

While both JavaScript and JScript aim to be compatible with ECMAScript, they also provide additional features not described in the ECMA specifications.


There are five editions of ECMA-262 published. Work on version 6 of the standard, codenamed “Harmony”, is in the process of being finalized.

ECMAScript, 4th Edition

The proposed fourth edition of ECMA-262 (ECMAScript 4 or ES4) would have been the first major update to ECMAScript since the third edition was published in 1999. The specification (along with a reference implementation) was originally targeted for completion by October 2008.

ECMAScript, 5th Edition

Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, and other 4th edition dissenters formed their own subcommittee to design a less ambitious update of ECMAScript 3, tentatively named ECMAScript 3.1. This edition would focus on security and library Ecma Logo version JPG in colourupdates with a large emphasis on compatibility. After the aforementioned public sparring, the ECMAScript 3.1 and ECMAScript 4 teams agreed on a compromise: the two editions would be worked on, in parallel, with coordination between the teams to ensure that ECMAScript 3.1 remains a strict subset of ECMAScript 4 in both semantics and syntax.

However, the differing philosophies in each team resulted in repeated breakages of the subset rule, and it remained doubtful that the ECMAScript 4 dissenters would ever support or implement ECMAScript 4 in the future. After over a year since the disagreement over the future of ECMAScript within the Ecma Technical Committee 39, the two teams reached a new compromise in July 2008: Brendan Eich announced that Ecma TC39 would focus work on the ECMAScript 3.1 (later renamed to ECMAScript, 5th Edition) project with full collaboration of all parties, and vendors would target at least two interoperable implementations by early 2009. In April 2009, Ecma TC39 published the “final” draft of the 5th edition and announced that testing of interoperable implementations was expected to be completed by mid-July. On December 3, 2009, ECMA-262 5th edition was published.

ECMAScript Harmony (6th Edition)

In the July 2008 announcement, Eich also stated that the ECMAScript 4 proposal would ecmascript6-logobe superseded by a new project, code-named ECMAScript Harmony. ECMAScript Harmony names the agreed design trajectory of post-ES5 editions. It will include syntactic extensions, but the changes will be more modest than ECMAScript 4 in both semantic and syntactic innovation. Packages, namespaces, and early binding from ECMAScript 4 are no longer included for planned releases. In addition, other goals and ideas from ECMAScript 4 are being rephrased to keep consensus in the committee; these include a notion of classes based on ECMAScript, 5th Edition (being an update to ECMAScript, 3rd edition).


ECMAScript is supported in many applications, especially web browsers, where it is implemented by JavaScript, or, in the case of Internet Explorer, JScript. Implementations sometimes include extensions to the language, or to the standard library and related application programming interfaces (API) such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) specified Document Object Model (DOM).


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