Javascript, Dash, Google and our future as Web Developers

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011 | Business | by

Dart, is an alternative language to Javascript being developed by Google.

Web developers live in an ever changing world of languages, browsers, development kits, and platforms.  The recent introduction, and popularity, of “App” development has introduced a serious competitor to the open web.  Our world as web developers is about to change.

Presumably in October (at GOTO) Google will be unveiling their new Dart language.

What about my beloved Javascript?

Google has stated that they will not be abandoning Javascript, but pursuing Dart as a “high reward / high risk” way of fixing the web.  While working on Dart, Google will continue their efforts at improving the Javascript platform (through small / marginal improvements).

Javascript is nice, but it has performance and security issues.  It also limits developers with more “structured” goals in mind, as it cannot be leveraged the same way as a compiled language can be.

Who will use Dart?

Everyone (as long as other browsers adopt it).

Both front and back end developers will be able to use Dart.  Dart is supposed to be able to be compiled as standard javascript for fallback support.  I’d bet those environments will just not be as fast / secure.

Even smaller scripts can use Dart without inheriting the “bulk” that traditionally comes along with more advanced platforms.  Google has stated that:

Dash is designed to keep the dynamic, easy-to-get-started, no-compile nature of Javascript that has made the web platform the clear winner for hobbyist developers.

Summary

Dart will be an alternative.  While we can’t know if it will be fully adopted, you can bet Chrome and Google products will support it (which accounts, already, for a large percentage of the web).

I wouldn’t recommend jumping on board the Dart boat immediately.  Developers still need to assess how it will work with our existing sites, how other browsers will react.

Will Apple ban all Dart code from Safari (it’s possible, since Dart will be a significant competitor to the “App” model — a sweet source of revenue for Apple)?

I’m a fan of the open web.  There is something slightly odd about using a language that is not an open standard.  Google says they will embrace the open standards community, but still, everyone’s going to want to have input and there could be friction.

I’ve been telling my colleagues how I think the “App” approach is far too fragmented to be a long term application model (can you imagine your iPhone 10 in 2020 with 30 pages of little icons in folders?).  I think Dart is a step in the right direction.

Good luck Google.

What does everyone think about Dart?

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