Question of the Day: What about all this asynchrony?

# Michael Lewis (7 months ago)

Good morning JavaScript world,

Maybe I'll start my mornings with a cup of coffee, and a discussion prompt. We'll see how long it lasts. It's 4:39am. I live in Aurora, Illinois, about an hour outside of Chicago. My kids will wake up in an hour or two, so I don't have long, and should be working on my framework anyway.

So much asynchrony There are callbacks, promises, async/await. We have streams in node.js. There are libraries like RxJS for Observables (that are basically streams?).

What's the end game? What will our children's children be learning in 100 years? Let's reduce these pieces, distilling them into their simplest components.

This esdiscuss.org/topic/promises-vs-streams is an interesting

thread (from es-discuss) regarding asynchrony, which references Kris Kowal's General Theory of Reactivity kriskowal/gtor,

which is too long for me to dig into at this point in my life.

The disappointing part, is that this community (who has mastered asynchrony) doesn't feel like there are any shortcomings, and so we continue onward without fixing the mess.

Oh, and generators? I don't fully understand these things. Do they work with promises? Can you use a generator to process a stream? How do generators work with or compare to async/await? Who knows...

I think it's safe to say that asynchrony is a confusing mess. *But it shouldn't be. *The concept of "do it now" or "do it later" is as easy as 123.

Recently, I read through Jake Archibald's JavaScript Promises: an Introduction developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/primers/promises. I

really enjoy Jake Archibald's writing. He makes JavaScript less boring. But wow, understanding promises in their full depth is really complicated. Sure, a simple promise is more or less a callback, easy peasy. But once you start composing parallel and series tasks, add error handling, and try to understand the control flow - it's a lot.

I feel like Promises could automatically *render a diagram *when using them. In Jake's very practical example (request a list of chapters, load all chapters in parallel, then append them to the page in order) there's a lot going on, to say the least. Wouldn't it be nice to see a diagram of these tasks? A timeline maybe?

Imagine debugging a complex sequence of async actions. And you have no idea which piece is failing. Using the console to log values, and trying to step through the code with the debugger are two of your basic approaches. But honestly, neither of these really *show *you what's going on.

Chrome Dev Tools has an awesome timeline GUI. I've spent an hour here or there tinkering with it, but can't make sense of a lot of it. There are 100's if not 1000's of very generic blocks that show up on the timeline, that don't clearly identify what they are. And I don't believe there's any way to visualize promises on this timeline.

The problem with Promises I want to create a file system framework for node. I'd like to make watching the files for changes a default feature. The problem with promises, is that you can't re-resolve them.

So I'm basically left with streams, or plain old callbacks. Or trying to recreate the promises every time they resolve...

What's the end game? 100 years from now?

Frankly, this is the most important question. I feel like if we take a step back, and try to solve these problems for the long term, we'd be better off.

And so, it's 5:15. Well done, Michael. Well done.

The Future If anyone has made it this far, I'm going to tell you a quick summary of my plan:

  1. make an ultra-simple web framework (almost done?)
  2. use that framework to make a CMS to kill WordPress
  3. turn that CMS into a web OS that does everything a real OS can do, only better
  4. turn that web OS into a real, bare metal OS
  5. make lots of amazing (useful) software (like photoshop, blender, after effects, CAD, etc)

Software development is sluggish. Most software is painful to use. Windows, Photoshop/Illustrator, many websites... Open source software doesn't get the funding/momentum it needs to really kill these proprietary alternatives. We need to change that. I'm going to change that.

Stay tuned.

# Michael Lewis (7 months ago)

*Side note about loading/defining Modules *(somewhat related to asynchrony) I've been writing a Module loader that's a hybrid between require.js and webpack. And in doing so, the obvious end-game solution for modules is a GUI. A GUI to help you scaffold the folders, files, import statements, package.json, and even the var thing = require("thing") statements. Click a [ + ] button in the folder where I want my module, and browse through a list of available modules to require, or go browse external package managers to find additional modules.

This is sort of that AST stuff I was talking about over the weekend. Instead of typing all this info into the file, it should be encoded. So webpack doesn't have to scan through and find your require statements, and parse them.

Just one small piece of the big picture... GUI all the things for the ultimate developer experience!

# Bob Myers (7 months ago)

I'm confused. You don't have time to read "The General Theory of Reactivity", yet (1) you have time to write this long, rambling email about your kids, and (2) expect people on this mailing list to spend their valuable time reading it?

Please stay on topic for the list.

Bob

# Michael Lewis (7 months ago)

The email wasn't about my kids, and you don't have to read it (duh). If your time is so valuable, maybe you shouldn't be picking fights with rambling parents.

Where is the list of approved topics?

# Naveen Chawla (7 months ago)

For me the future is async functions (the present actually). I asked a question about possible support for async streams / observables here: esdiscuss.org/topic/stream-async-await and I realized that my use case was much better served by just using async functions to process each input value in the stream.

I think using async functions is much more powerful than "observables", since it allows you to easily branch the stream off into multiple outputs etc. Using Promise.all etc. is also trivial to use where desired, etc.

Furthermore, async functions allow while/for loops that include other async function calls, and this looks like programming with regular functions, so it's trivial to set up asynchronous iteration, and/or infinite event processing, etc., even without the new "async iteration" proposal.

# Michael Lewis (7 months ago)

I'm not experienced in async/await enough to know what "using async functions to process [streams]" would look like.

You would have to create a new promise for every iteration? Even if performance isn't an issue, it just doesn't make sense to me. It's like, you could use obj.value = "my string" instead of var myString = "my string", and it will work. And the performance difference is negligible. But, it just doesn't make as much sense...

Branching vs Mutation The point you bring up regarding "branching the stream into multiple outputs" is another fundamental concept in programming (that I'm still trying to wrap my head around). Basically, does an operation (aka a method) operate on the original data, or fork/branch, preserving the original, and creating a clone to apply the transform to.

For example, arr.push() manipulates (mutates) the original array, but arr.slice() branches, giving you a brand new array, leaving the underlying array untouched (immutable).

This has always been an area of confusion for me. Which methods are mutators, and which are immutable?

Async Strings An interesting away to look at all this async stuff, is to consider strings, and their operations (methods), in an asynchronous way. How can a string be asynchronous? Just let it change over time, and broadcast change events.

What if you compose a string with several pieces: asyncParentStr.append(asyncStrA, asyncStrB, asyncStrC).

Each asyncString can have change events, and will propagate changes to anyone depending on it. asyncStrB.set("new value") will trigger asyncParentStr.change() event.

I feel like this is fundamental functionality that is lacking from JavaScript. Now that we have const, shouldn't var automatically set up change events for that "var"?

Async transforms But lets say we do asyncParentStr.append(asyncStrA, asyncStrB.replace("hello", "goodbye"), asyncStrC).

Now we have the question: do we want this .replace() to be a "live" transform? When we asyncStrB.set("hello world"), does it re-apply the replace? I think there are many use cases for both: mutate the original asyncStrB, so that all references to this value also exhibit the transform. And also the alternative, the immutable, branching kind of transform, where you don't mutate the underlying value, and instead are branching.

This concept is also the core concept of version control: do we continue down the same path, or branch off?

GUIs will prevail You can try and create different methods ( ._replace() vs .$replace() ) to represent transform vs branching (I don't know which looks more like which). But, in the end, the GUI will prevail. Artists can dream about how to envision these version trees, and perfect the GUI/experience. The code interface just can't compete with GUI, in the long run.

I suppose, its necessarily true that the API preceeds the GUI.

API before GUI, but GUI all the things. That's my new motto.

*What if variables were automatically async, and referential? *(As opposed to const that could be the immutable flavor) var str = "hello world";

str.replace("hello", "goodbye"); // transforms str var "in place" log(str) // "goodbye world"

str = "hello cruel world"; // transform is reapplied log(str) // "goodbye cruel world"

This will never happen, but it shows the fundamental difference in logic. Both are logical/useful...

# Michael Lewis (7 months ago)

Also, if you've made it this far, I think it's worth mentioning that these async strings are basically all you need for a realtime file system.

File("newFile.ext").append(File("fileA"), File("fileB"), ...).transpile().save(); // --> automatically watches, all inputs (fileA, fileB, etc), caches

unchanged files, reapplies transforms, writes to file...

Webpack and gulp are basically async plugin systems w/ transforms. They're just way too complicated.

Simplify all the things.

And while we're at it, why not make a realtime version control system? Not just for files, but for all the things (any data structure inside the app). For example, if we have variable strings, could we enable a history on it? Instead of branching onto a separate entity/value, could we branch *within *the string itself, so that we have an entire *verrsion tree *for any value?

What are the fundamental data structures in computer science? The Boolean, obviously. The Integer. The String.

Why not a realtime boolean? I suppose that's just a boolean + change events. What is a "change event"? Just an array of functions. But JavaScript functions are an abstract concept (compared to processor instructions). What do functions look like at the processor level? They're compiled with all the dependent values, right? How many processor ticks does the average line of JavaScript use?

I feel like all languages could boil down to a very small set of fundamental data structures, and maybe a slightly larger set of specialized data structures.

What are the different types of circuits in a process? I understand (roughly) the basic logic gates, but is there specialized circuitry for specialized data structures? What if those fundamental data structures were optimized at the circuitry level?

What if we can optimize our programs to run as nearly instantly as possible? Most scripts are *mostly *instant - at least, there's no external input. For any process that's nearly instant, couldn't it actually be instant? In other words, 1 tick of the processor? Load up all the registers with the necessary values, and shine the light down those transistors/logic gates, so that we arrive at our result, instantly?

I really feel like this is possible. Like I mentioned earlier, I've never compiled a lick of code in my life, and have very little understanding of those things. But from my sense of JavaScript, it's far from instant. How many processor ticks per line of JavaScript code, on average?

Is anyone still listening?

# Naveen Chawla (7 months ago)

async functions create a new promise for you upon every invocation, which you resolve via await, but that's all invisible in the background. It's basically:

async function doMovesAsync(){
    moves.forEach(
         move=>{
              doMoveAsync(); //another async function
         }
    );
}

...so you can do regular programming, in async world. This is why I believe it's more powerful than observables, thereby making them redundant.

When I say branching into multiple outputs, I do mean creating new data that leaves the original data untouched.

# Naveen Chawla (7 months ago)

... that should be await doMoveAsync()

# Logan Smyth (7 months ago)

A nit, but that would have to be for (const move of moves) await doMoveAsync() since the forEach callback is a normal function.

# Naveen Chawla (7 months ago)

Correct, for..of instead of forEach

# Michael Lewis (7 months ago)

async functions create a new promise for you upon every invocation, which

you resolve via await, but that's all invisible in the background

Is that correct? I thought async functions simply await promises. await something() works because something() returns a promise. But is there a promise created "invisibly" every time you invoke an async function?

# Michael Lewis (7 months ago)

Oh, you're right :-\ empty async functions return a promise, interesting...

# Jeremy Martin (7 months ago)

Michael,

You've spent a considerable amount of time putting your thoughts into writing, so I don't intend to be dismissive of them, but this doesn't seem to be the right distribution channel for whatever you're getting at.

As it stands, you've thrown quite a few questions out that don't seem to be related to the ongoing standardization and specification process that this group is primarily focused on. E.g.,

  • Are RxJS Observables basically streams?
  • What will our children be learning in 100 years?
  • What are generators?
  • ...do they work with Promises?
  • ...do they work with streams?
  • etc.

There are reams of documentation, articles, and guides that delve into these topics in great detail, including the excellent General Theory of Reactivity that you already mentioned. The questions you've brought up are all valid, and these resources will help you gain the knowledge you need if you still want to put a specific proposal forward -- but for now your points seem to awkwardly highlight that you've already identified the best resources to do this, but refuse to actually read them.

And while es-discuss is indeed an appropriate place to solicit feedback on language-level proposals, the ideas you've thrown out read like an off-the-cuff stream of consciousness:

  • Promises that automatically render diagrams?
  • A GUI for loading/defining modules (somehow related to an AST)?
  • Async strings with some informal behavior around branching and transforms, that are someone analogous to version control, and again, a GUI is involved somewhere?
  • Real-time booleans with change events (but with a new definition for "change events" that is oddly based around a non-reactive datastructure).

I made an honest attempt to make it through your posts with an eye for what your point is, but these simply aren't concrete or coherent enough to facilitate a conversation, much less be actionable.

The concept of "do it now" or "do it later" is as easy as 123.

I urge you to consider that statements like this belie that you haven't grappled with the subject matter enough. It frankly trivializes the topic beyond recognition.

If you have a concrete proposal you'd like to see discussed, then a dedicated thread with a clear description, examples, and motivating factors is completely welcome. If you're looking to rant or ruminate around topics like Promises, Generators, Observables, Streams, etc., while simultaneously admitting that you aren't taking the time to understand them, then this is simply the wrong venue.

# Jeremy Martin (7 months ago)

:(

Apologies, I didn't intend to reply-all on that. :\

I'll keep this one public too, since I just subjected everyone to the previous email as well.

# Michael Lewis (7 months ago)

Making things simpler, clearer, and more visual has obvious benefits.

I think I was very clear from the beginning that this was NOT a concrete proposal. And I've seen many posts on here that are not. From now on, I'll title my posts to more clearly indicate that reading is abstract, discussion, optional.

The confusion about async interoperability medium.com/@benlesh/rxjs-observable-interop-with-promises-and-async-await-bebb05306875

isn't mine alone. I'm a new comer to this scene, and my original curiosity was this community's long-term vision for asynchrony. How do we get all the pieces to play well together? Thank you for contributing 0 to that understanding.

And my point about the new comers to JavaScript or computers in general, how are they to make sense of this ever-moving language? You need better documentation, publication (an official blog), etc.

# Felipe Nascimento de Moura (7 months ago)

Michael, the JavaScript (and Web in general) communities are very open and always queen to help. I just think you hit the wrong mailing list to discuss all that.

For new comers, indeed, there is plenty to work on, practice and study. But keep in mind that many of those features came from different languages and technologies. And there are a lot of conferences, meetups, groups, slack channels, newsletters, articles, videos...tons of content out there :)

Trying to answer your question. I understand the feeling you are having, but think it this way...

  • Asynchronous code opens doors for possible gains in performance. Many improvements have only been possible due to this asynchronicity.
  • Async code helps you modulate/split your code. If your are an organized person, it will be good...otherwise, things can get messy!
  • Async code nowadays can be dealt with, as if it was sync (using async await), the other way around was a problem! Many times you needed something asynchronous and had to create layers on top of it.
  • Async allows new APIs. For example, Web workers and Service Workers. They simply wouldn't be possible if not by asynchronous ways.
  • Creating async APIs allows developers to explore and use your API in different ways...also, if your code is well organized, it has an easier maintanence.
  • APIs related to interoperability and usability also benefit from this. Let's say, you need a user permission to do something and have to way for the user to agree with it. Or maybe you ware waiting for another app to answer with the result from something else, like a picture or a share(from shareAPI).

As for "which" way you want to make your code async...that goes with what you are working on. If you are using promises, you can easily** have it working with async/await. Observables and promises can work together, but you will have to study a little further to feel familiar with it.

I hope I have helped somehow :)

# Michael Lewis (6 months ago)

I read and generally understand your points (while I don't fully understand all the new async syntax and best practices stackoverflow.com/questions/47178411/custom-thenables-can-i-create-my-own-objects-with-a-then-method).

You agree that there's a lot to learn, but nobody wants to even acknowledge that this committee has the power (responsibility?) to fix that problem esdiscuss.org/topic/web-docs. To make learning simpler, easier,

etc. It could start with an official blog. There are too many scattered resources. Too much conflicting advice, and not an official direction.

If Babel is here to stay - and transpiling custom syntax into official syntax is going to proliferate, this problem will only get worse.

This has to do with leadership - there doesn't seem to be a strong presence leading the pack. There are millions of developers scrambling to make sense of all this stuff, and the best resources we have are the continuous stream of blog posts that are constantly introducing new things, and often create more questions than answers.

It's clear to me that the people in this mailing list tend to stay at the cutting edge. You all read about the latest immediately when it's released. It makes sense to you, and there is no problem. The "rest of us" who struggle just aren't doing it right.

# Naveen Chawla (6 months ago)

TC39 is rightfully reluctant to offer usage advice. People should develop their best practices from experiences and the use cases they're involved in.

For me, to answer your question, since I'm not a TC39 member, it's async functions all the way, and ditch observables, raw promises, callbacks. I'd love to hear from those who think observables might ever be preferable over using async functions to do the same thing... since I don't currently see how it could ever be

# Michael Lewis (6 months ago)

So, the group that designs the language that the world uses for building web apps, cannot provide insight as to why they do what they do? Smells like bullshit. Maybe you can expand on that part further?

Check this tc39/agendas#272 out. It seems the

ECMA/TC39 group is closed to the public.

I'm just trying to make this easier for everyone...

This reminds me of our government, who writes laws so dense even the lawmakers don't read them. And then they expect everyone to abide by them. It's somewhat understandable (given the complexity of life). Yet, there's an easy/obvious solution: summarize, organize, and simplify. The law/specifications can be complex and simple, at the same time. And I feel like it's the responsibility of those who understand it the best to accurately reduce the complexity into simpler form.

This process (organizing, summarizing, simplifying) is the ultimate key to life. Science, education, content, knowledge... Sometimes we do this, but it can always be done better.

Have we taken JavaScript knowledge, and organized, summarized, and simplified it to its purest form? Absolutely not. Not even close.

In some areas of JS development (such as module management (dep mgmt, loading/import), version control, debugging, persistence, etc) the best solutions that we have, are severely broken, have been broken for decades, and TC39 isn't concerned with. That sounds like a problem to me. I'm sure everyone here would like to argue with me about this. The point is to realize where these areas can be better, and make them better. Not to argue about why they're not broken... Duh.

But, it seems like we need a new umbrella organization that's allowed to discuss the entire picture. Hahaha... it's so stupid. "Don't talk about that here." "That's not a problem, you're the problem." So much broken.

# Michael Lewis (6 months ago)

How difficult is it for a web developer to make a website?

What if everyone in this mailing list shared their personal websites, and we ranked them? Not that mine is great, but at least I'm admitting that it's really fucking hard to make a simple website... I know a *lot *of web developers that don't have their own website. And most that do, probably used WordPress, a static site generator, or another crutch.

I was reading a post by Jake Archibald jakearchibald.com/2015/tasks-microtasks-queues-and-schedules the

other day, and noticed he had some interactive elements within the content of his page. Wow, what a concept, right? Besides some major news outlets, I very rarely see this on the web. Aside from an image (non interactive) or a video (hardly "interactive"), how often do you see interactive content on the web? Very rarely. How long did it take to create? Jake says he spent his entire weekend on that one blog post.

*THE WEB IS BROKEN. FOR CHRIST'S SAKE. *And yes, I understand that nobody in this mailing list cares. Maybe I need to join the whatwg group, and yell at them. Or maybe I just continue working on it, by myself, in my basement. Or maybe I'll get some help someday. Lead me, follow me, or get the fuck out of my way.

Also, this is a fitting time to share a page lew42.com/test/view42/View1/Clean I wanted to share a while back (due to Jeremy Martin's inability to imagine a visual development experience). It doesn't live re-evaluate the code for each block, as it could. But it shows some object renderings. If you scroll down to the last test block, and click on the object titled "this", you'll see a rendering of the actual Test object. You can see the 1 line of code used to render that: View.inspect(this, "this");

So yes, Jeremy, you could "automatically render Promise diagrams"... Maybe I'll get around to showing you how that works.

What does your app look like? Creating views for all the things is really important. If you can see it, you can understand it.

# T.J. Crowder (6 months ago)

I was hoping the last message was a one-off. As it now clearly isn't...

Michael, along with all the other feedback you've received, please DO NOT swear on this list. This is a professional environment. It's entirely possible to express oneself clearly (and, er, concisely) without resorting to swearing.

Thank you,

-- T.J. Crowder

# Naveen Chawla (6 months ago)

I did help you. I answered your question: I said async functions are preferable over all the other alternatives. And I said others can weigh in with their own perspective if they disagree. Of course TC39 justifies their decisions: but it's left up to us, as the developers, to find out what the best way is. For example, I use "const" almost everywhere, but nobody at TC39 told me to do that: they just introduced it and explained the reasoning for its introduction. The same with boolean expressions: I use things like car && car.drive() instead of if(car) car.drive() but nobody told me to do so: I just find it terser.

# Jeremy Martin (6 months ago)

Michael,

You are not alone in your frustrations. Many of your points are valid, have been voiced before, and will no doubt be voiced again. No one on here is unsympathetic to this, and many members of TC39, as well as other community members, dedicate significant amounts of time, freely, to educational resources.

Lambasting TC39 for not formalizing and centralizing these educational resources -- a task that exists far outside of their charter -- is not productive.

The list of useful resources out there is pretty extensive, and as you've pointed out, that can have a downside if you don't know where to go. If it's helpful, here's a non-canonical overview of some of the more useful ones, though:

For a one-stop shop:

MDN (developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/JavaScript). If you want a single destination, choose this one. It has introductory material, beginner, intermediate, and advanced-level tutorials, and is the most complete and well-maintained developer-focused JavaScript reference site.

For non-formal discussion of cutting-edge, emergent features:

Axel Rauschmayer's blog (2ality.com). As it pertains to some of your specific questions, there is a lot of great material here on Promises in particular.

Dr. Rauschmayer has also written a series of extraordinarily useful books that he has graciously made freely available online, here: exploringjs.com.

Regarding the "closed" nature of TC39:

Most discussion happens here on this mailing list, in public. Copious meeting notes for all in-person meetings are available here, as well: tc39.github.io/tc39-notes.

If you want to search past es-discuss threads:

esdiscuss.org

For "why doesn't this code work?" or "how do I do this?" questions:

StackOverflow (stackoverflow.com). Still the gold standard here, IMO.

For your specific questions about why we have Promises AND Generators AND Iterators AND...

The General Theory of Relativity (kriskowal/gtor). You obviously already mentioned this, but I encourage you to please go and read it. While this isn't a general resource for the language, it is the most comprehensive and useful exploration of this specific topic that I'm aware of, and I genuinely believe you would find it illuminating on why this complexity exists around asynchrony.

There are clearly many in addition to these, but that's a short list of some that I've personally found to be useful.


If you don't like that this all exists as discrete, separate resources, then that's an opinion that you're entitled to. A canonical, comprehensive, and centralized resource for all of this would required thousands of hours, either volunteered or paid for by others, and that's something no one is entitled to. If you want to make that happen, I suggest a strategy other than reprimanding a group of people that are already contributing significant time to what resources do exist.

Regarding topic appropriateness for this mailing list, admittedly the lines can be blurry at times. GUI's and developer tooling are typically outside of scope, though. Visualizations around Promises are an interesting topic, but as a non-TC39 member, I think I can still safely say that it won't be making it into the language itself. Tooling is best left to evolve independent of the language itself, rather than being frozen at the specification level. Even the most basic developer tools, like the console object, are not a part of the ecmascript spec - they are host objects provided by the runtime.

Again, I'm not trying to be dismissive of your ideas here, but the validity of an idea or a frustration isn't the measure for whether or not it's on-topic for es-discuss. If you want to continue discussing some of your ideas for the language, I'm not discouraging you from that, but I am encouraging you to perhaps choose one to start with, evolve the idea until it's sufficiently clear and concrete to present for discussion.

# Michael Lewis (6 months ago)

On Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 10:00 AM, Jeremy Martin <jmar777 at gmail.com> wrote:

Michael,

You are not alone in your frustrations. Many of your points are valid, have been voiced before, and will no doubt be voiced again. No one on here is unsympathetic to this, and many members of TC39, as well as other community members, dedicate significant amounts of time, freely, to educational resources.

Thanks, it's a relief to finally hear. This was definitely not the impression that I've gotten so far. I've essentially heard, "there is no problem, what are you talking about?"

Lambasting TC39 for not formalizing and centralizing these educational resources -- a task that exists far outside of their charter -- is not productive.

This (not concerning themselves with the end users experience) is a mistake (an opinion). The JavaScript community would be better off if more care were given to this aspect (not an opinion).

The list of useful resources out there is pretty extensive, and as you've pointed out, that can have a downside if you don't know where to go. If it's helpful, here's a non-canonical overview of some of the more useful ones, though:

For a one-stop shop:

MDN (developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/JavaScript). If you want a single destination, choose this one. It has introductory material, beginner, intermediate, and advanced-level tutorials, and is the most complete and well-maintained developer-focused JavaScript reference site.

MDN is great, I find myself here frequently.

For non-formal discussion of cutting-edge, emergent features:

Axel Rauschmayer's blog (2ality.com). As it pertains to some of your specific questions, there is a lot of great material here on Promises in particular.

I read a good portion of his Meta Programming chapter, and find myself here frequently.

Dr. Rauschmayer has also written a series of extraordinarily useful books that he has graciously made freely available online, here: exploringjs.com.

Regarding the "closed" nature of TC39:

Most discussion happens here on this mailing list, in public. Copious meeting notes for all in-person meetings are available here, as well: tc39.github.io/tc39-notes.

So this mailing list is it, and it seems my efforts here are failing.

If you want to search past es-discuss threads:

esdiscuss.org

Yes, my original post in this thread links there. I'm aware that all these emails are public archived.

For your specific questions about why we have Promises AND Generators AND Iterators AND...

The General Theory of Relativity (kriskowal/gtor). You obviously already mentioned this, but I encourage you to please go and read it. While this isn't a general resource for the language, it is the most comprehensive and useful exploration of this specific topic that I'm aware of, and I genuinely believe you would find it illuminating on why this complexity exists around asynchrony.

If I get time, I might head back there. Honestly, though, I'm looking for simple summaries as opposed to exhaustive histories. Give me the takeaways. Save me some time. And, more importantly, what will the future be like? That's what I was in search of. What has this committee concluded on is the vision for the future (in terms of all the various async solutions, and creating interoperable adapters)? I don't think the answer to this is in that document.

There are clearly many in addition to these, but that's a short list of some that I've personally found to be useful.

I sincerely appreciate your time in compiling the list.


If you don't like that this all exists as discrete, separate resources, then that's an opinion that you're entitled to. A canonical, comprehensive, and centralized resource for all of this would required thousands of hours, either volunteered or paid for by others, and that's something no one is entitled to. If you want to make that happen, I suggest a strategy other than reprimanding a group of people that are already contributing significant time to what resources do exist.

I understand, but we can always do better (nothing is perfect). And that applies even with scarce resources. It could be better. I want to help.

Regarding topic appropriateness for this mailing list, admittedly the lines can be blurry at times. GUI's and developer tooling are typically outside of scope, though. Visualizations around Promises are an interesting topic, but as a non-TC39 member, I think I can still safely say that it won't be making it into the language itself.

Visual development is inevitable. If TC39 doesn't address it, then by the time visual development becomes the norm, TC39 probably won't exist. There's no need for a governing body that's not doing their job.

Tooling is best left to evolve independent of the language itself, rather than being frozen at the specification level. Even the most basic developer tools, like the console object, are not a part of the ecmascript spec - they are host objects provided by the runtime.

I understand. Yet, many of the people on this list work on those runtime implementations (Chrome, node, whatever). I'm reaching out to anyone who will listen.

Again, I'm not trying to be dismissive of your ideas here, but the validity of an idea or a frustration isn't the measure for whether or not it's on-topic for es-discuss. If you want to continue discussing some of your ideas for the language, I'm not discouraging you from that, but I am encouraging you to perhaps choose one to start with, evolve the idea until it's sufficiently clear and concrete to present for discussion.

I don't want to break the rules and get removed from the list. But it seems this list is powered by mozilla, and not "owned" by TC39 anyway. And because there are no official topic rules, I think that discussing aspects that are required for JavaScript development is fair game. Unless someone (at mozilla) requests otherwise.

I'm learning very quickly that the problems are systemic, and yelling around here won't get anywhere.

By the way, I just found this tc39.github.io/process-document

and this tc39/proposals and this tc39.github.io/tc39-notes. These would have been helpful a while

ago. Even still, they raise more questions than answers. These won't help someone struggling to make sense of things. They will only confuse them more.

I guess the average developer is required to follow all the people, read all the blogs, come back to MDN every so often and reread the entire site to make sure they don't miss something that appears in there.

The problem is real. The conclusion: "won't fix".

# kai zhu (6 months ago)

criticizing tc39 for the current problems in frontend-development is fair-game.

many of theses issues wouldn't exist if tc39 had responsibly gatekeeped es6 with a more modest feature-set of languages-changes, instead of creating an entirely new language.

# Isiah Meadows (6 months ago)

Michael,

Lambasting TC39 for not formalizing and centralizing these educational resources -- a task that exists far outside of their charter -- is not productive.

This (not concerning themselves with the end users experience) is a mistake (an opinion). The JavaScript community would be better off if more care were given to this aspect (not an opinion).

The point Jeremy was trying to make is that it's one thing to complain that there doesn't exist any decent centralized resources about this outside maybe MDN (which has a focus on docs, not so much tutorials or committee stuff). TC39 does attempt to be as open as practically possible, unusually more so than any other ECMA technical committee (they've noted several struggles with ECMA and ISO here).

Also, most TC39 committee members are excessively busy, with families, jobs, talks, and expert consultation. A little perspective helps here.

Dr. Rauschmayer has also written a series of extraordinarily useful books that he has graciously made freely available online, here: exploringjs.com.

Regarding the "closed" nature of TC39:

Most discussion happens here on this mailing list, in public. Copious meeting notes for all in-person meetings are available here, as well: tc39.github.io/tc39-notes.

So this mailing list is it, and it seems my efforts here are failing.

I wouldn't say they're failing so much as there's a lot more nuance than what meets the eye. My complaints have historically been in the case of certain implementors not being quite open enough on why they would refuse to accept certain proposals (Google on one of the cancellation proposals, for example).

For your specific questions about why we have Promises AND Generators AND Iterators AND...

The General Theory of Relativity (kriskowal/gtor). You obviously already mentioned this, but I encourage you to please go and read it. While this isn't a general resource for the language, it is the most comprehensive and useful exploration of this specific topic that I'm aware of, and I genuinely believe you would find it illuminating on why this complexity exists around asynchrony.

If I get time, I might head back there. Honestly, though, I'm looking for simple summaries as opposed to exhaustive histories. Give me the takeaways. Save me some time. And, more importantly, what will the future be like? That's what I was in search of. What has this committee concluded on is the vision for the future (in terms of all the various async solutions, and creating interoperable adapters)? I don't think the answer to this is in that document.

That does include some history, but it's probably more of an exhaustive explanation of asynchrony than a simple summary.*

* It's actually called "A General Theory of Reactivity", for future readers.

Tooling is best left to evolve independent of the language itself, rather than being frozen at the specification level. Even the most basic developer tools, like the console object, are not a part of the ecmascript spec - they are host objects provided by the runtime.

I understand. Yet, many of the people on this list work on those runtime implementations (Chrome, node, whatever). I'm reaching out to anyone who will listen.

Just because some of them work on tooling doesn't obligate them to include any of it in the spec - in particular, it might encourage them to leave certain things out, just to keep the tooling separate. Another example: the C++ standard doesn't mandate any linter warnings, but all major C++ compilers implement numerous linter options anyways.

I guess the average developer is required to follow all the people, read all the blogs, come back to MDN every so often and reread the entire site to make sure they don't miss something that appears in there.

The average developer only really needs to care about what's shipping in browsers, and IMHO, JavaScript Weekly fills 90% of that void (it also includes other interesting developments). Pretty much everything that's hit stage 4 (shipping in the next spec revision) has made it to JavaScript Weekly, including smaller things like the template literal revision.


Isiah Meadows me at isiahmeadows.com

Looking for web consulting? Or a new website? Send me an email and we can get started. www.isiahmeadows.com

# Jeremy Martin (6 months ago)

I don't represent TC39, and I don't like adding so much noise to this list, so this will be my last reply on the topic.

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with what you want, but you're barking up the wrong tree to get it:

This (not concerning themselves with the end users experience) is a mistake (an opinion).

This group is acutely aware of, and concerned with, the end user experience. As previously stated, many (if not most) of the members actively contribute from their personal time to assist in these areas. But that doesn't mean that as a committee they are obligated to all aspects of the developer experience.

I understand, but we can always do better (nothing is perfect). And that

applies even with scarce resources. It could be better. I want to help.

Whether scarce or abundant, when the "resource" is someone else's time and effort, you simply don't have any claim to it. If you want to help, then do it! Publicly shaming people who are already helping, simply because they're not helping where and how you want them to, is not ok, though.

If I get time, I might head back there. Honestly, though, I'm looking for

simple summaries as opposed to exhaustive histories. Give me the takeaways. Save me some time.

I wasn't going to respond until I read this part. Someone has already spent hours upon hours researching and compiling a useful resource (A General Theory of Reactivity), and instead of reading it, you're demanding more time from complete strangers to distill it into the exact level of verbosity that you want. That's not ok, and not what this mailing list is for. People in this list dedicate countless hours to save other people time, but their efforts aren't at your beck and call.

Visual development is inevitable.

Even if I am 100% in support of that statement, that doesn't mean that the visual development facilities are a part of the language itself. Again, I'm not trying to say that you have bad ideas, just that you've found the wrong mailing list for some of these.

There's no need for a governing body that's not doing their job.

The abundance of new features in the language is prima facie evidence that they are doing their job. Their job just isn't what you want it to be.

Yet, many of the people on this list work on those runtime implementations

(Chrome, node, whatever). I'm reaching out to anyone who will listen.

That's fine, there's no harm in trying. But when the people you reach out to suggest that it's off topic or out of scope for the venue you've chosen, then it's not fine to start ranting and publicly shaming them.

The problem is real. The conclusion: "won't fix".

Yes, there is a real problem (at least a challenge, anyway). But the existence of a problem isn't a license to demand a solution from whomever you deem responsible. Even when members in this list have tried to offer some help, primarily by referencing relevant reading material, those efforts have been rejected because we didn't create the cliff notes for you. Again, I'm not the authority on what is or isn't within scope of this list, but the sum total of these demands, shaming, and wandering subject matter do not seem to be appropriate here.

# Terence M. Bandoian (6 months ago)

Thank you for this, Jeremy.

# Michael Lewis (6 months ago)

Wow dude... Again, you're trying to pick a fight. I'm not "publicly shaming" anyone, that's ridiculous.

All I have to say is, just watch.