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back to article Google's Dart on target to replace JavaScript? That'll be the day

Last week, Google announced that the international standards body Ecma had formed a new technical committee devoted to Dart, the Chocolate Factory's homegrown web browser scripting language. But don't expect Dart to replace JavaScript as the web's lingua franca anytime soon. "The new standardization process is an important step …

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Anonymous Coward

just because it has Google's backing would be a mistake

I doubt Google could dislodge Javascript, but Chrome accounts for about 54% of browser usage (http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp), so they certainly have the influence to drive this as a secondary option.. But would they really want to follow in Microsofts footsteps and try to define their own standards.

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Silver badge

Re: just because it has Google's backing would be a mistake

Yes, they would. See VP8 or SPDY.

I think the difference versus classic 90s-era Microsoft is that what's good for the Internet is good for Google, so Google's proposed standards tend to be good ideas which Google genuinely intends to be open for all. One gets the impression that the point of Dart isn't that they can shut down Firefox et al, it's that the various Internet-connected devices from all manufacturers will be better at running web applications from all providers because then people will spend even more time on the web and Google's advertising revenue will increase.

The other difference is that people seem to be a bit more aware of the malign influence that even a benevolent single sponsor can produce. So Google's good intentions may still not be enough to win people around. But at least they're trying something.

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Anonymous Coward

54%

w3schools also says Linux desktop usage is around 5% (http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_os.asp). Even though I'm a Linux advocate, there's no doubt this is complete horse manure.

Before throwing statistics gathered on the internet, one should think very hard about the sample population. w3schools, despite its very low quality (but this is a whole other topic) is targeted at web programmers, who are definitely not a representative population.

Other sources seem to place Chrome between 16% and 46% for Q3/4 2013, which only shows that browser statistics are utterly unreliable and thus pretty much meaningless (except perhaps when you take multiple sources into account and only watch evolution, not raw values).

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Linux

Re: just because it has Google's backing would be a mistake

It really depends on how Google goes about it. If everything is well documented and licensed for open source, great. A plugin for the main browsers across different operating systems? Sounds good. At worst, it's an annoyance to install another plugin to make something work.

I think it's re-inventing the wheel, but that's ok. If it kills JavaScript, awesome -- but unlikely.

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Re: 54%

w3schools don't know their arse hole from their elbow. Didn't read past the first word, sorry

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Meh

What ECMA does for a living

C# is ECMA-334. ECMAscript is ECMA-262; ECMA also backed the .docx junk as ECMA-376 before MS conned ISO into adopting it. JSON is ECMA-404. This is what ECMA does to survive; they don't like people to remember that their name stood for European Computer Manufacturers Association.

So, if you're shopping around for a standards organization to rubber stamp your favourite proprietary format, ECMA's the one for you.

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Like a child with a toy, google will play with it until they get bored, and it will go the way of so many other great ideas and projects have worked on. They will bully everyone to use it, they will restrict others from using it in ways they do not agree with, we will be dependent on them solely, and if they don't get their way, they'll take their toy away. I know this is rough, but look at the history of google and some of their stuff. Every sentence here applies. Kinda like an early Microsoft, money does change people.

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SVV

Give me a proper strongly typed OO language, then we'll talk

Having worked on a few sites that used javascript heavily, and seeing that the developers all thought that

a) var is the universal dataatype and dataatype conversion issues never become an issue, and

b) you must not document your code, because it's only javascript in a webpage and (horror of horrors) vast swathes of users might see your comments when they choose the "View Source" menu option, like most people normally do when visiting websites.

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JDX
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Re: Give me a proper strongly typed OO language, then we'll talk

Or because some of us don't want to download kilobytes of extraneous data in web-pages?

Have page-shrinkers ever really become the norm (i.e. cut comments, rename variables as short as possible), or has widespread ADSL meant nobody cares any more?

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Java

We already have a high-performance, typed, difficult language that runs in Web viewers: Java. We already have a low-performance, untyped, easy language that runs in Web viewers: Javascript.

Dart is a solution in search of a problem.

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Thumb Down

Re: Java

We already have a high-performance, typed, difficult language that runs in Web viewers: Java.

If by difficult, you mean difficult to justify using because of the number and severity of unpatched vulnerabilities, notwithstanding the insane number of updates, then I agree with you wholeheartedly.

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Re: Java

Sorry Steve but you're showing your ignorance. Certain Java IMPLEMENTATIONS have security holes. Not the Java language itself. Using Java as the native browser language doesn't mean we have to use Oracle Java.

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FAIL

Translation

Google says its native Dart VM already outperforms its own JavaScript VM in some circumstances.

In other words, even they can't get Dart to outperform JavaScript.

After two full years, they should at least have been able to say that it consistenly outperfomrs JavaScript in most circumstances. And if they could have, they would have.

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Re: Translation

The problem isn't that Dart isn't fast - it is, consistently around 25-30% better than regular JS - it's that their V8 engine has been improving. Dart used to be 50-60% better, and hasn't gotten any faster, but V8 has improved tremendously in the same time frame.

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Dart: a huge improvement over JS. Browser requirement: no worries.

I have been writing some code in Dart to replace code I had previously written in JS. I am quite pleased with how much better the software-development process has been and the readability and maintainability of my Dart code (compared to JS). Simply put: JS is rubbish compared to Dart.

The class-based OOP is very nice and so easy for me to apply my Delphi, C#, and Java experience to, and the google-provided APIs for maps, lists, string manipulation, async operations, and so forth have cut my development time and lines-of-custom-code way down. The strong-typing (or pseudo-strong typing) in Dart is fantastic for preventing common errors too. Generics: wonderful to have. Inheritance in a non-prototypical manner: priceless. Resulting code is just so much easier for anyone to work with.

Sure, Google may not be able to get others to adopt the Dart VM in their browser, but I do not see that as an issue. This is not the "old days" where many of us faced rather limited hard-drive space or RAM (or even processing power). I figure if I write a web-based application in Dart, I can require my user-base to install Dartium if needed, since it it just an "app" (the browser that is... the browser IS the app that runs my app). It is not any big deal to have Chrome and/or Firefox and/or Dartium installed (dare I say, and/or IE?). Fact is, many people have multiple browsers on their machines already and are quite comfortable being forced to use one or another. So, if you need a browser with a Dart-VM installed in order to run an application/site you want to use, so be it. What's the difference between that or requiring your users to have OpenGL-capable graphics card to play a particular game, etc? For this reason, I do not see Google having a showstopper condition for Dart just because other browsers do not use their engine.

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Bronze badge

Google is a special case

The scale of their web applications means that even if the language they invent only gets used internally before being compiled down to Javascript, it was probably still worth doing.

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Re: Google is a special case

They already have that, in the form of Google WebTookit. I believe the motivation for GWT was to **reduce** the variety of languages. If this is just going to get translated to JavaScript, then it's a replacement for GWT, not JavaScript. Maybe related to Android/Snoracle/Java?

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Re: Google is a special case

I believe the motivation for GWT was to **reduce** the variety of languages.

No, it was to use a type safe language with proper support for OOP. It also allows the use of decent tools, rather than the JavaScript ones that are fundamentally limited by the language itself.

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This is still going?

I'd assumed it had died like so many other Google technologies e.g. Gears. And what's the story with NaCl while we're on the subject - gaining traction or just another technologically cool idea that isn't going to take off in real life?

I really don't think the right idea is to introduce ANOTHER language. Being able to re-use code between your browser and desktop apps (and even the server for shared libraries) is surely a better idea than having to port your code, rewrite standard libs from one language that don't exist in another, etc?

Streamlined versions of JS are not solving the underlying problem.

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I thought Dart would be brilliant

not a replacement for javascript but possibly a good ally.

And then it needed the latest version of Ubuntu to run on but decided to update itself anyway and then not work.

Now whatever happened to Orion....

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