Discovering JavaScript ES6

A while ago, I was prototyping around the idea of a dynamic form tag helper for ASP.NET Core. I heard back then that Angular 2 (now Angular 4) have a feature called reactive forms (now dynamic forms) which provides the capability to generate an html form with model binding and model validation from an annotated object.

Long story short, in order to play around with Angular 2 I had to get up to learn some TypeScript. I was glad to discover then a lot of interesting features such as static typing, class based object-orientation, for-each loops, interpolated strings and encapsulation capabilities to name a few.

This week, I started working on a new web application project built with React and I noticed that JavaScript ES6 is the preferred language version to work with React which led me to some fiddling…

Most of TypeScript goodness is already in ES6

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that most of the TypeScript features where already available in ES6, in fact TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript. Feeding legit JavaScript code to the TypeScript compiler will make it produce correct output without problems.

I would like to highlight some of the features that were IMHO most needed.

Class based Object Orientation

It is possible to define a classes as in C#:

The previous class contains a constructor, fields , properties and methods.

You can see also that inheritance is now explicitly supported via the extends keyword. This is a huge cognitive load saver especially for programmers coming from a C#, Java or C++ background.

for each loops

Consider the following example:

Yes, indeed you can say goodbye to most of the classic for loops in JavaScript and say hello to the new for-of construct which eliminates the need to reason about counter initialization and boundary conditions.

map, reduce and filter

Since I discovered functional programming and with the availability of LINQ in C#, I became addicted to the map, reduce and filter functions when working with lists, consider the following:

All of these functions are now available and as you can see in the previous example, ES6 supports the arrow function syntax for specifying anonymous functions (lambdas) in a more compact way. As in C# we can create expression lambdas as well as statement lambdas.

Small pattern matching support

Some pattern matching capability is now supported, consider the following:

In is now more easier to unpack complex structures such as objects and arrays with safe defaults.

I understand that this is far from the pattern matching capability of functional languages but it can be useful to have still.

Small Issue with the module system

Module system

The JavaScript ES6 specification defines a syntax for creating modules and importing public definitions such as classes, functions and constants among others.

By creating a file it is possible to define a module:

Here the export keyword is used to mark a definition as public i.e. importable from another module. The format function is not exported and is there for considered private to the module.

In the file in which we wish to use definitions from mylib, we use the import keyword to make the needed definitions available:

As you can see from the previous example, we can import specific definitions or we can use a wild card to import all the public definitions.


Unfortunately, at the time of this writing Node JS as well as all the modern browsers does not support the ES6 module syntax.

One way to use the syntax on the server side with Node is to rely on a compiler such as Babel which will generate code using the CommonJs syntax supported by Node.

A similar approach is possible on the client side but it will require the use of require.js.

Checkout this article by James M Snell for more details.

Closing thoughts

I am looking forward to play around with JavaScript ES7 and its “main eventer” feature async/await.

These new specifications are upping the value of JavaScript and are confirming it as a universal language that can be used to build an extended range of applications.

The new JavaScript along with modern frameworks such as React and Angular are making web front-end development more pleasant and appealing.