JavaScript comparison

Differences between Origami and JavaScript expressions

The Origami language is an expression language modeled after basic expressions in JavaScript.

Origami is focused on tasks like defining a website at a high level and can also be a useful scripting language. Towards those ends Origami deviates from JavaScript’s syntax in some places and omits many JavaScript features. This page enumerates the differences between Origami and JavaScript expressions.

Identifiers and references

Like JavaScript, Origami is a dynamic language; you do not need to specify the type of something when defining it.

  • Unlike JavaScript variable declarations, defining something in Origami is implicit; you do not need to prefix a declaration with let or const.
  • In order to allow you to directly reference files by name, most file names are legal identifiers in Origami. For example, index.html is not a legal JavaScript identifier but is legal in Origami.
  • The following special characters in identifiers must be escaped with a \ backslash:
  • Web URLs like are valid references in Origami.
  • Scope in Origami is defined more broadly than in JavaScript. Code in a JavaScript module can only reference things outside the module via explicit import statements. Origami expressions can implicitly reference anything within a project.

Basic numbers but no math

Origami has signed integers and floating point numbers so that you can pass numeric values to functions. Beyond that:

  • No binary, octal, hex, exponential notation
  • No math operators
  • No logical operators
  • No bitwise operators
  • No ternary operator
  • No nullish coalescing operator

String literals

  • Strings with double quotes and single quotes are essentially the same.

Template literals

  • Expressions inside an Origami template placeholder can directly return complex values like arrays, objects, or trees. Origami will perform a depth-first traversal of the result and concatenate all the values into the final string result.
  • Origami template literals do not support JavaScript’s tagged templates.

Array and object literals

Origami’s syntax for constructing array and object literals is essentially the same as JavaScript’s:

  color: "Blue"
  size: 20
  values: [2, 4, 6]
  • A newline can be used as an alternative separator instead of a comma in array literals, object literals, and tree literals (below).
  • Trailing commas are allowed.
  • An Origami object cannot define get or set methods. (Although you can define a tree with members that behave like get methods; see below.)
  • An Origami object cannot define indirect property accessors. JavaScript in contrast allows accessors defined in [ ] square brackets.
  • To reference a specific object value in Origami, use / path syntax instead of JavaScript’s . period. If the above object is available as obj, then obj/color will be “Blue”.
  • Likewise, to reference a specific array value in Origami, use / path syntax instead of JavaScript’s [ ] brackets. Here obj/values/0 will be 2.

No control structures

As an expression language, Origami does not include any of JavaScript’s control structures like for or while loops.

Function calls

Function calls in Origami look similar to functions in JavaScript:

fn(a, b, c)

To use Origami to call a function defined in a JavaScript file, you must use the JavaScript file’s name, including the .js (or .mjs) extension:


Origami assumes that any function might be async, so implicitly uses await when calling them.

The Origami language runtime itself is written in JavaScript, so types described below such as numbers, strings, and objects are also the same.

Lambda functions

Origami supports a lambda function syntax similar to JavaScript’s:

(x) => fn(x)

Origami requires the parenthesis around the lambda parameters; JavaScript allows you to omit the parenthesis for a lambda with a single parameter.

For ease of use in a command shell with the Origami CLI, the language also supports a shorthand lambda syntax:


This avoids the need to escape the > greater than sign or () parentheses, which are typically interpreted by a shell.

Tree literals

For many operations, Origami converts all associative types — like arrays and objects — to an abstract tree structure. See the AsyncTree interface for details.

You can define a tree literal in Origami using a syntax that’s similar to an object literal, but where keys and values are separated with = equal signs instead of : colons:

  index.html = createPage()

This type of Origami declaration will invoke the indicated expression — here, createPage() — whenever the value of index.html is retrieved. This behaves something like the JavaScript syntax for objects with get methods:

/* JavaScript approximation of the above */
  get indexDotHtml() { return createPage(); }

On difference is that the Origami example permits the createPage function to be async, while JavaScript prohibits the declaration of async getters.

Origami files vs JavaScript modules

Any Origami file with the .ori extension will have its contents interpreted as an Origami expression. Unlike JavaScript, there is no need to explicitly export a value.