Ecma standards effort won't topple web's lingua franca
"The new standardization process is an important step towards a future where Dart runs natively in web browsers," Google product manager Anders Sandholm wrote in a blog post on Thursday.
Maybe. Google already offers a browser with a built-in Dart virtual machine in the form of Dartium, the Chrome variant that comes with the Dart software development kit (SDK). It could very easily roll that code into the shipping version of Chrome. But getting other browser vendors to bundle Dart VMs with their own products will be a tall order, standard or no standard.
In the early 2000s, Microsoft made great hay about its C# language being accepted as both an Ecma and an ISO standard, but other than the Mono project, most of the industry greeted the news with a shrug. These days, the current version of the language is C# 5.0, but neither of the standards has been updated since version 2.0 in 2006. So much for that, then.
But perhaps the biggest impediment to Dart gaining widespread adoption is that so far it has been developed almost entirely within Google to address Google's own needs, and Google remains its most prominent backer, if not its only significant backer. Simply put, Dart is a Google product.
The web: We do it together or not at all
That doesn't bode well for Dart on the wider web, based on past examples. Previously, the Chocolate Factory has offered up the Pepper API, billed as a superior replacement for the old Netscape browser plugin API. But the other browser vendors have mostly rejected Pepper, with Eich saying Mozilla wasn't interested in the tech until it "achieves consensus" within the industry.
Standardization might be one way for Dart to achieve consensus where Pepper has not. But that implies that other major players in the industry will participate in the standardization process, and so far there's not much evidence that they plan to.
Just like how none of the other browser vendors got on board with Microsoft's web technologies like JScript and ActiveX in the 1990s, the wider web industry is unlikely to back a Google brainchild today. For better or worse, consensus is the way things get done on the web, and that's truer today than it has ever been.