Douglas Crockford
Douglas Crockford, February 2013.jpg
Crockford in 2013
Alma materSan Francisco State University
OccupationSenior JavaScript Architect
Known forJavaScript Object Notation

Douglas Crockford is an American computer programmer who is involved in the development of the JavaScript language. He specified the data format JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), and has developed various JavaScript related tools such as the static code analyzer JSLint and minifier JSMin.[1] Of his books, "JavaScript: The Good Parts" was published in 2008, followed by "How JavaScript Works" in 2018. He was a senior JavaScript architect at PayPal until 2019, and is also a writer and speaker on JavaScript, JSON, and related web technologies.


Crockford earned a degree in Radio and Television from San Francisco State University[2] in 1975. He took classes in FORTRAN and worked with a university lab's computer.[3]


Crockford purchased an Atari 8-bit computer in 1980 and wrote the game Galahad and the Holy Grail for the Atari Program Exchange (APX), which resulted in Chris Crawford hiring him at Atari, Inc. While at Atari, Crockford wrote another game, Burgers!, for APX[4] and a number of experimental audio/visual demos that were freely distributed.[5][6]

After Warner Communications sold the company, he joined National Semiconductor. In 1984 Crockford joined Lucasfilm,[3] and later Paramount Pictures. He became known on video game oriented listservs in the early 1990s after he posted his memoir "The Expurgation of Maniac Mansion" to a videogaming bulletin board. The memoir documented his efforts to censor the computer game Maniac Mansion to Nintendo's satisfaction so that they could release it as a cartridge, and Crockford's mounting frustrations as Nintendo's demands became more obscure and confusing.[7]

Together with Randy Farmer and Chip Morningstar, Crockford founded Electric Communities and was its CEO from 1994 to 1995. He was involved[clarification needed] in the development of the programming language E.[citation needed]

Crockford was the founder of State Software (also known as Veil Networks) and its CTO from 2001 to 2002.[citation needed]

During his time at State Software, Crockford popularized the JSON data format, based upon existing JavaScript language constructs, as a lightweight alternative to XML. He obtained the domain name in 2002, and put up his description of the format there.[8] In July 2006, he specified the format officially, as RFC 4627.[9]

He worked at Yahoo for many years.[citation needed]

Opinions on Javascript

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In 2008 Crockford published a book announcing his discovery that Javascript, contrary to prevailing opinion, has good parts. He describes this as "heresy", and as "possibly the first important discovery of the 21st century", noting that it came as a "great surprise to the community of javascript developers, and to the world at large."[10] He attributes the discovery to his having read the ECMAScript Standard, which he says "literally changed my life."[11] He also notes that the specification document is of "extremely poor quality", "hard to read", "hard to understand", and says that the ECMA and the TC39 committee "should be deeply embarrassed".[12]

Software license for "Good, not Evil"

See also: Open-source software § Definitions

In 2002, in reference to President George Bush's war on "evildoers", Crockford started releasing his JSMin software under a customized open source MIT License, with the added the requirement that "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil". This clause was carried over to JSMin-PHP, a variation of JSMin by Ryan Grove. This software was hosted on Google Code until December 2009 when, due to the additional clause, Google determined that the license was not compliant with the definition of free and open source software, which does not permit any restriction on how software may be used.[13][14] JSMin-PHP was forced to migrate to a new hosting provider.[15][16] According to the GNU project, the licence conflicts with Freedom 0 of the Free Software definition, and although "it may be unenforceable, we cannot presume that", therefore non-free.[17]

Crockford's license has caused problems for some open source projects who mistook the license for an open source variant of the MIT license. Affected open source developers have asked Crockford to change the license, but he has continued to use it.[18][19][20]

In media

Crockford is listed in the acknowledgements of the 1995 hardcover edition of The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson as Douglas (Carl Hollywood) Crockford.



  1. ^ "JSMIN, The JavaScript Minifier". December 4, 2003. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  2. ^ Douglas Crockford speaker biography Archived February 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine , New Paradigms for Using Computers conference, IBM Almaden Research Center, August 22, 1996
  3. ^ a b Boosman, Frank (March 1987). "Designer Profile: Doug Crockford". Computer Gaming World (interview). p. 40.
  4. ^ "Atari Program Exchange: Burgers!".
  5. ^ "Hollywood Medieval demo for Atari 8-bit". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  6. ^ "Ballsong Nr 1 demo for Atari 8-bit". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021.
  7. ^ The Expurgation of Maniac Mansion: A Memoir by Douglas Crockford
  8. ^ JSON: The Fat-Free Alternative to XML, Douglas Crockford, December 6, 2006
  9. ^ RFC 4627: The application/json Media Type for JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)
  10. ^ Crockford, Douglas (March 11, 2011). "Heresy & Heretical Open Source: A Heretic's Perspective". InfoQ. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  11. ^ "How JavaScript Works: Sample Chapter". Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  12. ^ "JavaScript: The World's Most Misunderstood Programming Language". Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  13. ^ "The Open Source Definition | Open Source Initiative". February 22, 1999. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  14. ^ "OSI FAQ entry on 'evil'". October 21, 2007.
  15. ^ Shankland, Stephen (December 28, 2009). "'Don't-be-evil' Google spurns no-evil software | Deep Tech - CNET News". Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  16. ^ (December 8, 2009). "JSMin isn't welcome on Google Code". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  17. ^ Stallman, Richard. "Licence List".
  18. ^ directhex (November 9, 2012). "Archive » Evil, or why Douglas Crockford is harmful to Free Software". Apebox.Org. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  19. ^ " License Literally Says it "shall be used for Good, not Evil" | Hacker News". January 30, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  20. ^ "Bug #63520 JSON extension includes a problematic license statement". January 30, 2014. Retrieved January 30, 2014.