Will Memory Leaks Matter in 2009?

Looking ahead a little bit: At the start of 2009, will JavaScript-based memory leaks still be relevant? Will onunload event handler cleanups still be required?

The largest offender has been Internet Explorer 6. Its market share is waning. Serious updates are being force-pushed to help old users. Internet Explorer 8 (beta?) will probably be out before the end of the year.

I’m fully willing to submit that they’ll be around for a long time, in one form or another – but just how long? One year? Two? Three? IE 5 is at < 2% and no major JavaScript library supports it. I suspect that we might have to wait until that level before people start to chop off IE6-with-JScript-5.6 support. Think about it: A year ago the world of Safari was pretty grim, but they gave us Safari 3 and it helped to clear things up significantly. Right now timers can be frustrating in Firefox 2, but Firefox 3 is giving some serious love to clean things up. It definitely appears as if the IE team is becoming serious about moving forward, so what can we expect here?

As I start working on my next book I have to ask questions like this. If I write about memory leaks will it even matter by the time the book is published? (Not saying that the book won’t happen until 2009, but that’s probably when it’ll be on most bookshelves.) Memory management will always be an issue, but memory leaks (as we know them) are surely doomed – it’s just the time frame that is unclear. Regardless, I think there should probably be a web-only article on memory leaks, I’m just not convinced that it should be in the book, proper.

Posted: January 13th, 2008

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