Fly my pretties!

Dart SDK 1.0 is here, and it’s on a quest to slay JavaScript

Google’s intention to build a front-end development language for building web apps was first made public two years ago. Today, it was announced at Belgium based Devoxx that Dart SDK 1.0 had finally been upgraded from test version to production-ready option for web developers.

Since the project’s inception, there’s been one question dogging the Dart dev team: outside of big G towers, will anyone bother to pick this language up? Even at today’s event, judging from the Twitter buzz, a ropey looking conference salad appeared to be generating an equal, if not greater, buzz on the ground.

According to Google, "The Dart SDK 1.0 includes everything you need to write structured web applications: a simple yet powerful programming language, robust tools, and comprehensive core libraries." What the promo materials often fail to mention is that Dart’s aim is to replace JavaScript in rich web applications – the type where an MVC JavaScript framework might currently be used.

At the moment, it’s only supported in an experimental build of Chrome, but can compile to JavaScript to accommodate current browsers. Eventually, the Dart team hope to add a Dart VM to the regular Chrome build. It’s very early days however, and it’ll be a while before its success can be effectively judged.

The team claim that Dart “can help make your development workflow simpler, faster, and more scalable” when it comes to large web apps.

Google are doing their utmost to get people on board. Bundled up in Dart SDK is everything the first timer needs to get going, including the Dart Editor, a code editor, and IDE for the Dart language.

The team behind this newly minted language have certainly set their ambitions high. They hope that, one day, in the not too distant future, Dart will run everywhere; from browsers and servers to smartphones.

Akin to JavaScript, Dart uses conventional classes and interfaces for object-oriented facilities. Its syntax is high redolent of C, making it not off-puttingly alien. It allows static types to be added and optionally enforced, but its default is dynamic typing. This allows developers to more tightly honeycomb and monitor applications as they grow.

It’s got a host of other useful tools too, such as method cascades for easy modification of objects, and named arguments to improve readability and discoverability. Much of the functionality of popular JavaScript library jQuery has also been implemented.

In spite of Google’s big plans for Dart, it’s got over a decade of JavaScript legacy to contend with. Cobbled together by NetScape in the mid-nineties, JavaScript is hugely ubiquitous. Even if vendors wanted to suddenly decamp en masse to this sleek new language, it would take a good few years for the transition to be complete.

Still, if you want to have a poke around with this box fresh language, Dart SDK 1.0 is available on the official page. To date, Google’s seen teams from Blossom, Montage, Soundtrap and Mandrill put it into production. And, according to Lars Bak, Software Engineer and Chief Dartisan, companies such as Adobe, drone.io, and JetBrains have started to add Dart support to their products.

The other thing to remember: this isn’t just some humble lone-dev-in-the-attic project. This is fricking Google. The guys who were revealed to have captured 81% of the smartphone market with their iOS bothering system. Dart may have just left the starting blocks, but we’d bet you a KitKat that this is one language set to rocket up the popularity indexes.

Image by License vidalia_11

Lucy Carey

What do you think?

JAX Magazine - 2014 - 06 Exclucively for iPad users JAX Magazine on Android

Comments

Latest opinions