The development of this Standard started in November 1996. The first edition of this Ecma Standard was adopted by the Ecma General Assembly of June 1997.
That Ecma Standard was submitted to ISO/IEC JTC 1 for adoption under the fast-track procedure, and approved as international standard ISO/IEC 16262, in April 1998. The Ecma General Assembly of June 1998 approved the second edition of ECMA-262 to keep it fully aligned with ISO/IEC 16262. Changes between the first and the second edition are editorial in nature.
The third edition of the Standard introduced powerful regular expressions, better string handling, new control statements, try/catch exception handling, tighter definition of errors, formatting for numeric output and minor changes in anticipation of forthcoming internationalisation facilities and future language growth. The third edition of the ECMAScript standard was adopted by the Ecma General Assembly of December 1999 and published as ISO/IEC 16262:2002 in June 2002.
Since publication of the third edition, ECMAScript has achieved massive adoption in conjunction with the World Wide Web where it has become the programming language that is supported by essentially all web browsers. Significant work was done to develop a fourth edition of ECMAScript. Although that work was not completed and not published as the fourth edition of ECMAScript, it informs continuing evolution of the language. The fifth edition of ECMAScript (published as ECMA-262 5th edition) codifies de facto interpretations of the language specification that have become common among browser implementations and adds support for new features that have emerged since the publication of the third edition. Such features include accessor properties, reflective creation and inspection of objects, program control of property attributes, additional array manipulation functions, support for the JSON object encoding format, and a strict mode that provides enhanced error checking and program security.
This present edition 5.1 of the ECMAScript Standard is fully aligned with third edition of the international standard ISO/IEC 16262:2011.
ECMAScript is a vibrant language and the evolution of the language is not complete. Significant technical enhancement will continue with future editions of this specification.
This Ecma Standard has been adopted by the General Assembly of June 2011.