It’s pronounced ‘naz-horn’

JVM JavaScript engine Nashorn open sourced

Nashorn, the successor to the Rhino JavaScript engine for the JVM, has been submitted to the OpenJDK. In a message to the OpenJDK announcements mailing list, Nashorn Project Lead, Jim Laskey and OpenJDK HotSpot Group Lead, John Coomes, have formally proposed the creation of the project.

Providing a good overview of the project, the pair describe Nashorn as a “lightweight high-performance JavaScript runtime in Java with a native JVM”, allowing development of “free standing JavaScript applications using the jrunscript command line tool”. It will replace the aging Rhino engine currently maintained by Mozilla (‘Nashorn’ is the German word for Rhino), utilising the MethodHandles and InvokeDynamic APIs of the Da Vinci Machine, JSR-292.

They continue: “The scope of this project will include, but is not limited to, a parser API for scanning JavaScript source code, a compiler to convert ASTs from the parser to JVM byte code, and a runtime to support the execution of said generated byte code.”

Nashorn has been developed internally by Oracle for some time, with solid details only emerging at this year’s JavaOne. At that time, the team reported 99.99% compliance with ECMA test262, considerably higher than Rhino, which has 95.90% compliance.

It seems that the elusive 0.01% has been overcome, however, with the writers announcing a 100% compliance rate, “the current status of this project is that further work needs to be done on performance and hardening before it can be considered ready for general use.”

One particularly hyped aspect of Nashorn is the ability to run node.js, the trendy method of developing server-side applications using JavaScript. Using Node.jar on Nashorn, unmodified node.js scripts can apparently be run on the JVM.

Voting is open to existing OpenJDK members until December 6 - although it seems unlikely that such a high-profile project would be turned away.

Elliot Bentley

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