What is JavaScript and ECMAScript [2022]?

JavaScript is a programming language that was created to “make web pages more interactive”. The programs in this language are called scripts. This script is a computer program that runs automatically. It can be right in the HTML document.

The scripts that JavaScript provides are executed as plain text. Unlike Java, they don’t need to be processed or compiled in any way before they run.

Why is it called JavaScript?

JavaScript is a dynamic, weakly typed language that gets compiled at runtime. It was created by Brendan Eich, originally known named as “Mocha” and changed to “LiveScript“, due to the popularity of Java at that time got renamed to “JavaScript”.

JavaScript is now an independent language with its own specification, ECMAScript. It has no relation to Java.

What is ECMAScript?

ECMA means – European Computer Manufacturer’s Association. It is a standard for scripting languages. ECMA is based on several originating technologies, the most well known being JavaScript (Netscape) and JScript (Microsoft).

ECMAScript is the standard for programming languages used in the Web. It is specified by ECMA-262. The purpose of it is to make websites function in the same way no matter what browser they are opened in.

ECMAScript is a scripting language that web developers commonly use to give life to websites. They are also using it to write server-side applications using Node.js.

ECMAScript is the language, whereas JavaScript, JScript, and ActionScript 3 are “dialects”. This is clarified in Wikipedia.


ECMAScript is an abbreviation for ECMA-262. This is a technical documentation that specifies what kind of requirements the ECMAScript language needs to satisfy.

It is a standardized set of rules by ECMA International. ECMA International is a Swiss non-profit organization based in Geneva. They are responsible for a lot of standards, including JSON, C#, and more.

History of JavaScript naming

Mocha -> LiveScript -> JavaScript -> (part of JS resulted in) ECMA-262 -> ECMAScript -> JavaScript (consists of ECMAScript + DOM + BOM)

How JavaScript Works Behind The Scenes & Execution Context [2022](Opens in a new browser tab)

Is JavaScript exactly the same as ECMAScript?

  • No, JavaScript is not exactly equivalent to ECMAScript.
  • The core features of JavaScript are based on the ECMAScript standard, but JavaScript also has other additional features that are not in the ECMA specifications/standard.

JavaScript = ECMAScript + DOM API;

  • DOM API like: document.getElementById('id');

Why is it called ECMAScript?

  • JavaScript was developed by Netscape in order to standardize the language. As a result, they submitted the language for standardization to the European Computer Manufacturers’ Association (ECMA).
  • However, due to trademark difficulties with the name JavaScript, the standard was renamed ECMAScript, which it still bears today.
  • Because of trademark difficulties, Microsoft’s version of the language is referred to as JScript – despite the fact that JScript is fundamentally the same language as JavaScript.

JavaScript and ECMAScript

ECMAScript = ES:

  • ECMAScript is a Standard for scripting languages.
  • Languages like JavaScript are based on the ECMAScript standard.
  • ECMA Standard is based on several originating technologies, the most well known being JavaScript (Netscape) and JScript (Microsoft).
  • ECMA means European Computer Manufacturer’s Association.

JavaScript = JS:

  • JavaScript is the most popular implementation of the ECMAScript Standard.
  • The core features of JavaScript are based on the ECMAScript standard,  but JavaScript also has other additional features that are not in the ECMA specifications/standard.
  • ActionScript and JScript are other languages that implement the ECMAScript.
  • JavaScript was submitted to ECMA for standardization but due to trademark issues with the name JavaScript the standard became called ECMAScript.
  • Every browser has a JavaScript interpreter.

ES5 = ECMAScript 5:

  • ES5 is a version of the ECMAScript.
  • ES5 is the JavaScript you know and use in the browser today.
  • ES5 does not require transpilers to transform it into something that will run in today’s browsers.
  • ECMAScript version 5 was finished in December 2009,  the latest versions of all major browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and IE)  have implemented version 5.
  • Version 5.1 was finished in June, 2011.

ES6 = ECMAScript 6 = ES2015 = ECMAScript 2015:

  • ES2015 is a version of the ECMAScript.
  • Officially the name ES2015 should be used instead of ES6.
  • ES6 will tackle many of the core language shortcomings addressed in  TypeScript and CoffeeScript.
  • ES6 is the next iteration of JavaScript, but it does not run in today’s browsers.
  • There are quite a few transpilers that will export ES5 for running in browsers.


  • BabelJS is the most popular transpiler that transforms new JavaScript ES6 to Old JavaScript ES5.
  • BabelJS makes it possible for writing the next generation of JavaScript today (means ES2015).
  • BabelJS simply takes ES2015 file and transform it into ES5 file.
  • Current browsers versions can now understand the new JavaScript code (ES2015), even if they don’t yet support it.

TypeScript and CoffeeScript:

  • Both provides syntactic sugar on top of ES5  and then are transcompiled into ES5 compliant JavaScript. 
  • You write TypeScript or CoffeeScript then the transpiler transforms it into ES5 JavaScript.

With JavaScript, you can easily construct stunning online applications. Every year, the most recent version of ECMAScript is released, and additional innovations that make writing JavaScript easier are introduced.

Sadly, browsers are not yet up to date with the most recent standards. This is why, when writing with the most recent standard, a compiler such as babeljs is required.

Source Stackoverflow, DEV.to, DEV.to, Javascript.info, Stackoverflow

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