JAX London 2014: A retrospective
Dart loses key browser interest

Microsoft shoots down Google Dart and targets improved JavaScript

ChrisMayer
Dart

Has Google alienated too many potential allies already?

Since Google banded about the concept of Dart – its aim to eliminate JavaScript shortcomings for Web application developers – the hackles of many luminaries were raised within the community with their brash stance. And it seems Microsoft have also turned their back on Google’s intentions.

On Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Weblog, the Javascript team outlined their stance clearly – opting to support Javascript in the future and carry on the continous evolution of the language that has been around for more than a decade.

Five members of Microsoft JavaScript team dismissed Dart’s claims that Javascript had outstayed its welcome:

Some examples, like Dart, portend that JavaScript has fundamental flaws and to support these scenarios requires a “clean break” from JavaScript in both syntax and runtime. We disagree with this point of view.

We believe that with committee participant focus, the standards runtime can be expanded and the syntactic features necessary to support JavaScript at scale can be built upon the existing JavaScript standard.

The team also revealed new reference implementations in order to achieve a much more functional JavaScript in the future. These included a few prototype object and libary helpers to test out in sample Web pages.

Math String Number
cosh, sinh, tanh
acosh, asinh, atanh
log2, log10, log1p, expm1
sign
trunc
startsWith, endsWith
contains
repeat
toArray
reverse
isFinite
isNaN
isInteger
toInteger
 
Number Format Date Format Collator
format ( number ) format ( date ) compare ( x , y )

 

Dart’s heavy-handed approach isn’t exactly unexpected but is possibly naive, given that to really challenge JavaScript in the future, they’ll need the backing of major browsers and this vote of no-confidence from Microsoft could be an early stumbling block in the long run .

Project Leader Lars Bak said back in September around the launch of Dart that 

“It’s not going to replace JavaScript…JavaScript is a cornerstone of the Web today, and it will continue to be for a long, long time.”

But he also didn’t deny Google’s big ambitions in a leaked memo to knocking JavaScript off its perch. Google should realise however that JavaScript got onto that perch by colloboration rather than restrained relationship with others in the space. An in-house strategy just won’t persuade vendors to switch over from an already established language for web developement.

Dart’s ultimate goals are to -

  • Create a structured yet flexible language for Web programming. 
  • Make Dart feel familiar and natural to programmers and thus easy to learn. 
  • Ensure that Dart delivers high performance on all modern Web browsers and environments ranging from small handheld devices to server-side execution. 

It’s beginning to feel like a long road ahead. Today’s news may come as a hammerblow to Dart’s attempts to get a foothold in an already crowded place but JavaScript only got into its position from 15 years of hard graft through colloboration with others. It’s certainly a gamble trying to become the next-generation language for web application development. Perhaps a reassessment is needed?

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