New Features in JavaScript | TechWell

New Features in JavaScript

Java Script

JavaScript is an ECMAScript standards-based scripting language, most commonly used in web pages. ECMAScript is standardized by Ecma International as a JavaScript standard to ensure interoperability of web pages across different browsers. Essentially, ECMAScript is a less-commonly used synonym for JavaScript. Here we’ll explore the new features in the most recent version, ECMAScript 2020, which is the 11th edition of the ECMAScript Language Specification.

Matching Strings Against a Regular Expression

It is often needed to match a string against a regular expression to find all matches of the regular expression in the string. Prior to the new feature introduced in ECMAScript 2020, a user had to use the regexp.exec method to match a string against a regular expression. The regexp.exec method returns an array of all matches, and a while statement has to be used to loop over the array to get each match. The new String.prototype.matchAll() method has the syntax str.matchAll(regexp), and it matches a string against a regular expression and returns an iterator over all matched objects. The iterator may be iterated over using a for…of loop to access each match of the regular expression in the string. The advantages of the matchAll() method are that no elaborate exec() method call with a g flag is needed, and the matchAll() is not limited to RegExp objects; it may be used with any JS object, which gets converted to a RegExp object. With exec() only a while loop could be used, but with matchAll() any of the for...of, array spread or Array.from() may be used for iterating over the collection.

Dynamic Import of Modules

JavaScript provides the import statement for static import of dependency modules at load time. The static import may not always be suitable because it evaluates all code in the imported module at load time, which could slow down the loading, increase memory usage, and might be unnecessary for several reasons, such as:

  • The module may be needed conditionally.

  • It may not be known in advance if a module is needed at all, and it may need to be imported on an as-needed basis.

  • The module does not exist at load time.

  • The module has side effects.

ECMAScript 2020 introduces an import() function to dynamically and asynchronously import modules as needed. Asynchronously implies that the processing of the script continues while the dynamic import is performed. An example of using the dynamic import is in an AJAX request. The import() function may be used with await. An example of using the dynamic import function call is in a <button/> element with onclick=import('/modules/ajax-module.js').

The BigInt Primitive

In a calculation involving integers, if the precision is of significance and is limited only by the available memory, arbitrary precision integers are used. ECMAScript 2020 has added a new number primitive called BigNum for use in calculations involving arbitrary precision integers.

A New Function for Promises

In JavaScript, a Promise is an object that represents the eventual completion or failure of an asynchronous operation and the associated result value. Asynchronous processing is unpredictable to some extent as it is usually not known in advance when an asynchronous process completes and returns. To add to the complexity, multiple asynchronous processes could be running simultaneously. If the asynchronous processes have a dependency on any of the other asynchronous processes, the Promise.all() method is typically used. For multiple asynchronous processes that are independent, ECMAScript has introduced a new method called Promise.allSettled(iterable Promises) that does not short-circuit and is called after all the promises passed to it as an argument have completed. It returns the result of each promise combined with others into an array as a new promise.

Global this

In JavaScript, the this keyword has a different significance depending on whether it is used in global, function, or class context. In the global context, which is outside of a function, this refers to the global object. Because simple references to this could be dubious, ECMAScript has introduced a new property called globalThis to refer to the global this value.

Aggregating Exports

The export statement is used to export functions, objects, and primitive values from within a module to be used for importing with the import statement or function. Often it is needed to aggregate exports, and ECMAScript 2020 has added a new syntax export * as ns from 'module' for exporting all functions, objects, and primitive values as a named export from a module.

Some of the other features include the import.meta object to expose context-specific metadata, such as module’s URL to a module, and a nullish coalescing operator (??) that returns the r.h.s (right-hand side) value if the l.h.s (left-hand side) operand is null or undefined and otherwise the l.h.s operand.

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