Hello in “Let’s talk about ECMAScript 2015” series. Today I gonna show you a couple of changes to strings in JavaScript, which will be available when ES6 comes. A syntactic sugar, which could be helpful in daily work.

template strings

First, a string interpolation. Yep, template strings (finally) support string interpolation. ES6 brings us also support for multi-line syntax and raw literals.

let x = 1;
let y = 2;
let sumTpl = `${x} + ${y} = ${x + y}`;

console.log(sumTpl); // 1 + 2 = 3

As you can see, we can inject values to string by using ${value} syntax. Another thing to consider is grave accent — a char under the tilde (~) on a keyboard. A template literal string must be wrapped by it, to work properly.

The example above is an equivalent (in ES5) to simply (Babel version):

var x = 1;
var y = 2;
var sumTpl = "" + x + " + " + y + " = " + (x + y);
console.log(sumTpl); // 1 + 2 = 3

This feature is very useful and almost removes the need for a template system.

Template strings provide also multi-line syntax, which is not legal in ES5 and earlier.

let types = `Number
console.log(types); // Number
// String
// Array
// Object

ES5 equivalent:

var types = "Number\nString\nArray\nObject";console.log(types); // Number
// String
// Array
// Object

The last thing is access the raw template string content where backslashes are not interpreted. We don’t have equivalent in ES5 here.

let interpreted = 'raw\nstring';
let esaped = 'raw\\nstring';
let raw = String.raw`raw\nstring`;
console.log(interpreted); // raw
// string
console.log(raw === esaped); // true

extended support for Unicode

ES6 gives us full support for Unicode within strings and regular expressions. It’s non-breaking addition allows to building global apps.

Let’s see an example:

let str = '𠮷';console.log(str.length);             // 2
console.log(str === '\uD842\uDFB7'); // true

You can see that character 𠮷 is represented by two 16-bit code units. It’s a surrogate pair in which we have a single code point represented by two code units. The length of that string is also 2.

Surrogate pairs are used in UTF-16 to represent code points above U+FFFF.

console.log(str.charCodeAt(0)); // 55362
console.log(str.charCodeAt(1)); // 57271

The charCodeAt() method returns the 16-bit number for each code unit.

ES6 allows encoding of strings in UTF-16. JavaScript can now support work with surrogate pairs. It gives us also a new method codePointAt() that returns Unicode code point instead of Unicode code unit.

console.log(str.codePointAt(0)); // 134071
console.log(str.codePointAt(1)); // 57271
console.log(str.codePointAt(0) === 0x20BB7); // true

It works the same as charCodeAt() except for non-BMP characters.

BMP — Basic Multilingual Plane — the first 2^16 code points.

codePointAt() returns full code point at the 0 position. codePointAt() and charCodeAt() return the same value for position 1.

We can also do a reverse operation with another new method added to ES6: fromCodePoint().

console.log(String.fromCodePoint(134071));  // "𠮷"
console.log(String.fromCodePoint(0x20BB7)); // "𠮷"

Unicode code unit escape sequences consist of six characters, namely \u plus four hexadecimal digits, and contribute one code unit.

Unicode code point escape sequences consist of five to ten characters, namely
\u{ 1–6 hexadecimal digits }, and contribute one or two code units.

Dealing with that two definitions, above example could be represented by one code point in ES6:

// ES6 way
console.log('\u{20BB7}'); // 𠮷
console.log('\u{20BB7}' === '\uD842\uDFB7'); // true
// ES5 way
console.log('\u20BB7); // 7!
console.log('\u20BB7' === '\uD842\uDFB7'); // false

In ES5 we get an unexpected result when we try to match one single character using regular expression.

console.log(/^.$/.test(str)); // false - length is 2

ES6 allows us to use new RegExp u mode to handle code points. It is simply a new u flag (u == Unicode).

console.log(/^.$/u.test(str)); // true

Adding u flag allows to correctly match the string by characters instead of code units.

strings are iterable

Strings are iterable by using the for-of loop which I will cover in more detail in iterators article later. I write about it now because it enumerate Unicode code points and each may comprise one or two characters.

let str = 'abc\uD842\uDFB7';console.log(str.length); // 5for (let c of str) {
console.log(c); // a
// b
// c
// 𠮷

We can also use spread operator to transform string into an array with full Unicode support.

let str = 'abc\uD842\uDFB7';
let chars = […str];
console.log(chars); // ['a', 'b', 'c', '𠮷']

new string methods

repeat(n) — string repeats by n times

console.log('abc|'.repeat(3)); // 'abc|abc|abc|'

startsWith(str, starts = 0) : boolean — check if string starts with str, starting from starts

console.log('ecmascript'.startsWith('ecma'));      // true
console.log('ecmascript'.startsWith('script', 4)); // true

endsWith(str, ends = str.length) : boolean — check if string ends with str, ends — where the string to be checked ends

console.log('ecmascript'.endsWith('script'));  // true
console.log('ecmascript'.endsWith('ecma', 4)); // true

includes(str, starts = 0) : boolean — check if string contain str, starting from starts

console.log('ecmascript'.includes('ecma'));      // true
console.log('ecmascript'.includes('script', 4)); // true

Whole series is also available as an ebook. I published it on leanpub.com

Future is bright!

ECMAScript 2015

Let’s talk about ES6

Maciej Rzepiński

Written by

Leader & Software Engineer at Wolters Kluwer

ECMAScript 2015

Let’s talk about ES6

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