Google, Microsoft and Mozilla together to WebAssembly: The byte code to speed up the web

The three guru of the category of web browsers have concocted a partnership to give birth, along with the WebKit team, a new project to make it fast and versatile web.

Google, Microsoft and Mozilla, together with the technicians of the WebKit project, announced Thursday a new partnership to launch WebAssembly, binary format to fill out applications designed for the Web. The web standard of living and, for better or for worse, the most widely used programming language is JavaScript. A language that engineers over the years have had to face, often they will have to work around any limitations by designing special compilers for additional functionality and support to other programming languages.

Among the projects that were being developed around the idea of ​​adding functionality to JavaScript booze example typescript of Microsoft, but we can also cite cases in which people sought to optimize performance, and we refer to the project asm.js Mozilla. Many of the works created by these ideas are going to be all merged into one project, which will give rise to precisely WebAssembly. The objective of the new standard is to enable developers to compile their code to the browser (preferably using C / C++ , at least initially), which will run from then JavaScript engine.

Not having to analyze the code in its entirety, which can take time, such as on the mobile, managed code with WebAssembly will be decoded in a much more rapid. The idea is to make WebAssembly compatible with all browsers available, and above all taking advantage of the collaboration between the three major competitors in the industry.

Currently, the JavaScript files are just simple text files that are downloaded from the server and then be analyzed and compiled by the JavaScript engine of a browser. The more efficient the engine, the more rapid execution of the activities provided by the code. Conversely, WebAssembly use the binary format for the code, much more compressed and concise and also faster to decode. The prototype version, for example, would allow already performance 23 times higher compared to the analysis asm.js.

The team WebAssembly aims to be able to offer all the features guaranteed by asm.js, even allowing developers to use the same programming tool. Early stages, in addition, the team has planned the launch of a ” polyfill library “, which will have the task of translating the code automatically WebAssembly in JavaScript so that it can be digested by the current web browser that does not offer native support. The support of other programming languages, like Rust, Go and C#, is expected in the near future.

The objectives of the team should not be misunderstood: it is not the ultimate goal is to replace JavaScript, but allow many other programming languages ​​to be compiled for the web. JavaScript and WebAssembly can be used in parallel on the same site, where it is the user interface will still be written in JavaScript, while the elements of the page and its animations will be treated with WebAssembly.

It is not often a relationship so tight between direct competitors in the market, and is very likely that the ambitions of WebAssembly are very high. It is a project that will flourish over the next few months, perhaps years, but whose outcome could be very interesting, with the aim of improving the web and make it more versatile.