JavaScript and evidence-based language design

Author’s note: Hi, I’m an engineer at Mozilla working on the Firefox DevTools server. I’m also a TC39 representative. This post focuses on some of the experiments I am trying out at the TC39, the standards body that manages the JavaScript specification. A follow up post will follow…

In what ways can empirical evidence be used in the design of a language like JavaScript? What kind of impact would a more direct connection to developers give us? As stewards of the JavaScript specification, how do we answer questions about the design of JavaScript and help make it accessible to the thousands of new coders who join the industry each year? To answer this we need to experiment, and I need your help.

Enter stage left: a survey

I know, it isn’t so exciting. It’s a survey. We are testing whether or not the methods used in this survey provide useful information about specific parts of a proposal. In other words, we are testing how we can identify different factors related to code: Cognitive load, error proneness, readability, and learn-ability.

The goal is to see what we can learn from the data you share. Whether it will be useful remains to be seen. This is the first attempt to do this, so it will not be perfect.

This is also why I need everyone’s help. Whatever your background, your responses will be very much appreciated. You might be learning JavaScript as your first language, coming to JavaScript from another language, or working in the language professionally.

Well, I hope I have gotten everyone excited to take a survey. I am certainly excited. It is estimated to be 15 minutes, I hope it is enjoyable!

Here is the survey link again.

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