More on this

So I showed my confusing problem detailed in this last post to Dave Herman, who after an initial surprise, said that this was probably due to ES4 expansions method binding — that is, o.f sometimes closes over this, but sometimes not.

It doesn’t work in Opera or IE — they return false for both function calls — but it seems that if they implement ES4, the first call will eventually return true. That seems terrible to me — it was so surprising! It also makes it a little difficult to use JavaScript itself as a compiler representation, since you can’t use A-normal form if let-abstraction doesn’t work. Never mind that programmers (read: I) use let-abstraction to break up complicated expressions when debugging, and so this change in behavior will only confuse matters more.

Dave pointed out that in trade-offs between consistency and convenience, the latter sometimes wins, particularly when changes affect thousands and millions of people. But it’s not clear to me how convenient this is; it’s a tiny shortcut for those who know about it, but it’s very fragile. I’d liken it to operator precedences: in only a few cases do people take advantage of the ordering, so arithmetic expressions are generally just written out with parentheses for clarity.


  1. OpenLaszlo has an LzDelegate class that takes an instance and a method name (as a string) – it’s essentially a poor man’s closure. I always delegates were an answer to some vagary in our class system, but it turns out that they have a purpose – don’t depend on this!

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