Feeds

Google's 'JavaScript killer' marks first birthday with update

New Dart SDK brings speed boost, language revamp

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Just over a year after it first unveiled the Dart language for large-scale web programming, Google has announced that its purported "JavaScript killer" has hit its first major milestone.

"Today, after plowing through thousands of bug reports and feature requests from the web community, a new, more stable and comprehensive version of Dart is now available and ready to use," wrote Lars Bak, co-developer of the language, in a blog post on Tuesday.

The new release, which Google is calling "M1," is hardly version 1.0. In fact, the Chocolate Factory is referring to it as version 0.1 internally, to indicate that the language and its associated libraries are still likely to undergo significant changes before they reach their finished form.

"M1 is our first release milestone. It's a signal to developers that things are stabilizing, that now's a good time to start building your app in Dart," said Google's JJ Behrens in a video chat on Tuesday. "We're going to try really hard to not make backwards incompatible changes, but rather we're going to be polishing the language, adding to it, and then working a lot on performance."

Much has already changed since Dart's initial public release a year ago. An article on the Dart language website lists 24 significant language changes in the M1 release, not to mention "minor changes and clean-ups."

The Dart team has also been working to improve performance, mostly by enhancing the Dart VM (virtual machine). A new feature called "snapshots" can capture the state of an application right before it starts executing, allowing it to start up as much as ten times faster in subsequent launches. And Behrens says the Dart VM actually now outperforms Google's V8 JavaScript VM on key benchmarks.

Unfortunately, neither improvement will do much to speed up most Dart applications, at least for now. That's because the Dart VM isn't included in any mainstream browser. The primary method for deploying Dart applications today is to compile them to JavaScript – which is one reason why the notion that Dart is a "JavaScript killer" still irks its development team.

"Dart is not out to replace JavaScript," Google's Gilad Bracha insisted during Tuesday's video chat. "This is something that, I guess, various commentators jumped to that conclusion, and once that happens, no amount of denials will help."

Even though most users will run Dart apps as JavaScript, however, the Dart VM can be used to run server-side applications in Node.js fashion, and the Dart SDK ships with a development version of Google's Chrome browser that has the Dart VM built-in, to enable faster debugging. (It has been widely speculated that Google may include a Dart VM in future mainstream Chrome releases, but the search giant has announced nothing officially.)

The M1 release also includes an improved version of the Dart source code editor, which uses static code analysis to enable intelligent refactoring and code completion, as well as introducing a package-management system called Pub, which allows Dart developers to share their packages on Google's servers.

In addition, the new SDK introduces a few new libraries, including an HTML library that works transparently on modern browsers and a library that makes it easier for Dart code to interoperate with code written in JavaScript.

For all the changes introduced in the M1 release, however, there are many more to come. There will definitely be an M2 release before the language approaches its final form, and future updates may even break Dart code written today.

"When we say that the language is stable, you have to take that with a grain of salt, in the sense that we have no intention of making any more breaking changes," Bracha said, before adding, "unless we've really screwed up." ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Microsoft to bake Skype into IE, without plugins
Redmond thinks the Object Real-Time Communications API for WebRTC is ready to roll
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Mozilla: Spidermonkey ATE Apple's JavaScriptCore, THRASHED Google V8
Moz man claims the win on rivals' own benchmarks
Yes, Virginia, there IS a W3C HTML5 standard – as of now, that is
You asked for it! You begged for it! Then you gave up! And now it's HERE!
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings
Oi, Windows, centOS and openSUSE – behave, we're all friends here
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.