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Summary

WebAssembly is an intriguing development that has been under wraps until it was recently brought into the open by key players Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla, which together own the largest share of web browsers, and announced WebAssembly once they had reached a critical point of consensus. Continuing efforts on WebAssembly will be through the W3C.

The technology makes use of LLVM and asm.js to compile source code (currently C/C++) so that it will run on JavaScript engines. By pre-compiling client-side application code, it enables open standards-based web and mobile applications to be optimized and run faster than JavaScript, but these codes still run more slowly than pure-native code.

WebAssembly will replace JavaScript with more mature and advanced alternatives

Advantages of this include optimized and smaller loads, and therefore faster load times, and the expected opening up of WebAssembly to other languages, Java and Python, will be welcomed. It is hoped that this evolution of open web standards technology will make JavaScript a less critical member. The language became a core component of open standards almost by accident. It was never conceived for this role when first created, and it has shortcomings for such a key role. It is hoped that WebAssembly will remove this burden, leaving JavaScript largely for UI-related tasks.

WebAssembly is therefore welcome and will provide a good alternative to native development on mobile. If Apple joins the project, it will make WebAssembly a sure bet for the future of web development, and therefore one to watch.

Appendix

Author

Michael Azoff, Principal Analyst, Ovum Infrastructure Solutions Group

michael.azoff@ovum.com

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