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Programming language propeller-head at Mozilla, Dave Herman, has blogged about steps Mozilla is taking in offering parallelism in the JavaScript programming language (see Appendix). While Java and other key languages have threads to create parallel processes, this is currently lacking in JavaScript. Given the predominance of JavaScript in web and mobile development, Mozilla is pushing the evolution by trialing parallel JavaScript features.

Writing parallel code in JavaScript is a necessary evolution

Parallel JavaScript is a good option for developers. JavaScript is a key language today, even if its importance is a matter of being in the “right place at the right time”. The language does have ugly parts, as acknowledged by people including Douglas Crockford, who has written about “JavaScript: The Good Parts”. The lack of parallelism is an area ripe for evolution. With smart devices carrying GPUs that in combination with powerful processors turn these into the supercomputer of yesteryear, there is a massive capability waiting to be tapped. Enabling technology to exploit this computing power will lead to a new generation apps that make use of it, such as machine learning, and big data-related apps.

Herman's approach at Mozilla is to make early ventures in parallel JavaScript available to developers and wait for their feedback. There are a number of ways in which to implement the parallelism, and the degree to which data is shared reflects how predictable the machine state can be. Parallel programming has notorious pitfalls, such as race conditions, so different data-sharing models have different levels of risk, and care is therefore necessary in their programming. Mozilla is taking a more cautious approach in its parallel data-sharing model.


Further Reading

Dave Herman:


Michael Azoff, Principal Analyst, IT Infrastructure Solutions

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