Application publishing gets the WebAssembly treatment

Containerise apps to run in a browser, on anything. Annoy Citrix and VMware as you go

British outfit Droplet Computing thinks it’s found a new way to package and publish applications, by bundling them up to run using WebAssembly so they can run in a browser, online or offline.

WebAssembly is a low-level safe binary format designed to allow C/C++ code to run in web browsers. Droplet’s eyed off WebAssembly since before it was baked into Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari. The technology is a W3C standard, emerged from Apple and promises a secure sandbox running inside a browser.

Droplet wouldn’t tell The Register exactly how it’s able to bundle common desktop apps to use WebAssembly, but told us it can create paravirtualized containers that encompass an app, its OS, hardware emulation and whatever else is needed to get it running in a browser.

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The company told us it allows organisations to create a fleet of “Droplets” and integrate with an LDAP directory to ensure that users only access the ones they’re allowed to have.

Once installed, the app runs in a Tab and persists even if a device goes offline. Clearing a browser’s cache will snuff the app, but as Droplet’s back end is a web server re-installation won’t be onerous for client or server.

Droplet plans to build “recipes” that allow organisations to prepare apps for its containers. For now those recipes will concentrate on popular desktop apps. The company has also hatched plans to sell Droplets to individuals and is awake to the potential for servers to run in browsers too.

Other application packaging and publishing tools often rely on proprietary clients, complex approaches like application factoring and require dedicated server tools. If WebAssembly delivers its promised near-native speed for apps, Droplet might have a shot at shaking things up a little. ®

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