ECMAScript Basics

Table of Contents:


Here you will find a brief history of ECMAScript and we will cover what was new in ES6 and ES2017. Still, the idea of this article is to cover basic JavaScript features and to provide examples.

From JS history

Mozilla Firefox was the first browser ever, but at that time it was called Netscape.

Netscape created JavaScript first version, and they submitted the language to ECMA (European Computer Manufacturers Association) for standardization.

There was a problem with the language name JavaScript, because Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) created language Java, so they had to name it ECMAScript instead.

You can find ECMAScript’s short name is ES, but we all simply use JavaScript.

The two major impact releases of ES were ES5 (2010) and ES6 (2015). After ES6 we had: ES2016, ES2017, ES2018, ES2019, and ES2020.

New ES releases should bring new features and better security with improved simplicity. At least this is the idea.

The European Computer Manufacturers Association last standalone version was ES3, after the version 3 Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, and others bigger players joined and helped to define the ES standard.

ES6 (ES2015)

ES6 currently is very popular (widely supported). This release brought:

  • for...of loops
  • Python-style iterators, generators
  • arrow function expression (() => {...})
  • let keyword for local declarations
  • const keyword for constant local declarations
  • new collections (maps, sets and WeakMap)
  • promises

We can use any browser to write JavaScript. With FireFox use Inspect Element -> Console and start typing/executing JavaScript.

Use the console.log() method to print.


Arrays were part of JavaScript from the early days, but here we use the new ES6 let and const keywords to define them.

Example: Array

let a=[]


Array [ "asdf", "asdf" ]

Before the let keyword (ES6) there was var in older releases, that is present still.

To define constants const keyword will suffice const PI = 3.141593.

Most frequently used Array property is .length. You would use it like: a.length in our example.

Core Array methods:

method desc
concat() Joins two or more arrays, and returns a copy of the joined arrays
indexOf() Searches array for an element, and returns element’s position
join() Joins all elements of an array into a string
lastIndexOf() Searches array for an element, starting at the end, and returns element’s position
pop() Removes last element of an array, and returns that element
push() Adds new element to the end of an array, and returns the new length
reverse() Reverses the order of elements in an array
shift() Removes the first element of an array, and returns that element
slice() Selects part of an array, and returns the new array
sort() Sorts the elements of an array
splice() Adds/Removes elements from an array
toString() Converts an array to a string, and returns result
unShift() Adds new elements to the beginning of an array, and returns the new length
valueOf() Returns the primitive value of an array
map() Creates a new array with the results of calling a provided function on every element in this array
filter() Creates a new array with all elements that pass the test implemented by the provided function
every() Tests whether all elements in the array pass the test implemented by the provided function
foreach() Executes a provided function once per array element


First we will create an empty object.

const empty = {}

The problem with this object, we cannot alter it, because it is const.

let ob = {
    type : "string",
    value : "asdf"

We will get:

Object { type: "string", value: "asdf" }

Example: An array of objects

let ao = []
ao[0] = {
    type : "int",
    value : 12
ao[1] = {
    type : "string",
    value : "asdf"
ao[2] = {
    type : "object",
    value : ao[1]


(3) […]
0: Object { type: "int", value: 12 }
1: Object { type: "string", value: "asdf" }
2: {…}
type: "object"
value: Object { type: "string", value: "asdf" }
<prototype>: Object { … }
length: 3


A function is a block of JavaScript code we invoke.

const square = function(x){
    return x*x;

Arrow Function

This is a new ES6 feature. The same function from above can be achieved using arrow function syntax:

const square = (x) => x*x

I avoid using the arrow function for the same reason I avoid the lambda functions in Python, but they are possible.


A JavaScript class is not an object, officially it is a function under the wood hood.

class Browser {
  constructor(name, version) { = name;
    this.version = version;
      console.log(`${} version ${this.version}`  )
console.log(typeof Browser) // function
let ff85 = new Browser("Firefox", 85);
console.log(typeof ff85) // object
console.log(ff85) // Object { name: "Firefox", version: 85 }
ff85.print() // Firefox version 85

class keyword is new in ES6. Before we used the function keyword to create classes in ES5.


Sets are Arrays where all elements are unique. Sets are new in ES6.

let s = new Set()
console.log(s) // Set [ "hello", "goodbye" ]
console.log(s.size === 2) // true
console.log(s.has("hello") === true) // true
for (let key of s.values())
    console.log(key) // insertion order first hello then goodbye

Use method add() to append elements to a Set. We also used the new ES6 for...of syntax.


Map is a collection of elements, where each element of a Map is key/value pair.

Map is very similar to dict in Python, except we can iterate over Map in the order of insertion. For Python dict this is not true, unless we use ordered dicts.

Example: Map

let m = new Map()
m.set("hello", 42)
m.set(53, "world")
console.log(m.size === 2)
for (let [ key, val ] of m.entries())
    console.log(key + " = " + val)


hello = 42
53 = world

for...of loops

Iterators and Generators bring the concept of iteration into JavaScript. You can iterate them using for...of loops.

Example: Iterator

Iterator is any JavaScript object that implements next() method and returns an object with two properties value and done.

value means the next value in the iteration.sequence. done is true if the last value in the sequence has already been consumed, else false.

function makeRangeIterator(start = 0, end = Infinity, step = 1) {
    let nextIndex = start;
    let iterationCount = 0;
    const rangeIterator = {
       next: function() {
           let result;
           if (nextIndex < end) {
               result = { value: nextIndex, done: false }
               nextIndex += step;
               return result;
           return { value: iterationCount, done: true }
    return rangeIterator;
const it = makeRangeIterator(1, 10, 2);
let result =;
while (!result.done) {
 console.log(result.value); // 1 3 5 7 9
 result =;
console.log("Iterated over sequence of size: ", result.value);


Iterated over sequence of size: 5

Example: Generator

function* simpleGenerator() {
    yield 1;
    yield 3;
    yield 5;
var g = simpleGenerator();
for (let i=0; i<4; i++){


Object { value: 1, done: false }
Object { value: 3, done: false }
Object { value: 5, done: false }
Object { value: undefined, done: true }

String, Array, TypedArray, Map and Set are all built-in iterables, because their prototype objects all have a Symbol.iterator method.

JavaScript supports 5 types of loops:

type desc
for loops through a block of code a number of times
for/in loops through the properties of an object
for/of loops through the values of an iterable object
while loops through a block of code while a specified condition is true
do/while also loops through a block of code while a specified condition is true

So far we explained what is new in ES6 compared to eS5 except we haven’t explained ES6 Promises. The next section will cover promises inside the async/await section.


ES2017 or ECMAScript 2017 new features include the Object.values, Object.entries and Object.getOwnPropertyDescriptors functions for easy manipulation of Objects and my favorite async/await constructions which use generators and promises for concurrency.


This is a method that should return an iterator.


const ob = {
  a: 'asdf',
  b: 53,  
console.log(Object.values(ob)); // Array [ "asdf", 53 ]


This method is similar to Object.values() except it returns an object containing all elements (entries).


const ob = {
  a: 'asdf',
  b: 53,  
console.log(typeof Object.entries(ob));


0: Array [ "a", "asdf" ]
1: Array [ "b", 53 ]
length: 2


There is new syntax to work with promises called async/await.

async function f() {
  return 1;

The keyword async means the function always returns a promise.

This is exactly equivalent to this code:

async function f() {
  return Promise.resolve(1);

await keyword goes with async and works only inside async. When we call await this pauses the function execution until the promise returns.

Example: Promise

async function f() {
  let promise = new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    setTimeout(() => resolve("done!"), 1000)
  let result = await promise; // wait until the promise resolves (*)
  alert(result); // "done!"

Here we used a Promise. The Promise is JavaScript object. Promise is designed to process asynchronous operation until success or failure (resolve or reject callbacks).


String Methods

Since working with strings is one of the most frequent action in JavaScript here are the string methods outlined:

method desc
charAt() Returns the character at the specified index
charCodeAt() Returns the Unicode of the character at the specified index
concat() Joins two or more strings and returns a copy of the joined strings
fromCharCode() Converts Unicode values to characters
indexOf() Returns the position of the first found occurrence of a specified value in a string
lastIndexOf() Returns the position of the last found occurrence of a specified value in a string
match() Searches for a match between a regular expression and a string, and returns the matches
replace() Searches for a match between a substring (or regular expression) and a string, and replaces the matched substring with a new substring
search() Searches for a match between a regular expression and a string, and returns the position of the match
slice() Extracts a part of a string and returns a new string
split() Splits a string into an array of substrings
substr() Extracts the characters from a string, beginning at a specified start position, and through the specified number of characters
substring() Extracts the characters from a string, between two specified indices
toLowerCase() Converts a string to lowercase letters
toUpperCase() Converts a string to uppercase letters
valueOf() Returns the primitive value of a String object

Global Methods

These are the JavaScript global methods

method desc
decodeURI() Decodes a URI
decodeURIComponent() Decodes a URI component
encodeURI() Encodes a URI
encodeURIComponent() Encodes a URI component
eval() Evaluates a string and executes it as if it was script code
isFinite() Determines whether a value is a finite, legal number
isNaN() Determines whether a value is an illegal number
Number() Converts an object’s value to a number
parseFloat() Parses a string and returns a floating point number
parseInt() Parses a string and returns an integer
String() Converts an object’s value to a string

tags: await & category: javascript