Competition for JavaScript? W3C declares web assembly the web standard

Competition for JavaScript? W3C declares web assembly the web standard

The World Wide Web Consortium recently made the web assembly core specification the official web standard alongside HTML, CSS and JavaScript. That’s behind it.

The language of the web is called JavaScript – and is supplemented by HTML and CSS. With the help of web assembly, however, applications written in high-performance languages ​​can also be deployed in the browser. Reason enough for the World Wide Web Consortium to make the format standard now.

The abbreviation W3C stands for the “World Wide Web Consortium” – a committee that advocates standardized technologies for the use and development of the Internet. The body was founded in 1994 at MIT in Cambridge. The objective: to create uniform technological specifications and guidelines for the development of technologies in the WWW in order to preserve “the basic idea of ​​the Internet”.

At its core, web assembly is a virtual instruction set architecture that enables high-performance applications on the web and a number of other environments. Web assembly extends the range of what can be deployed on the web. In view of the increasing spread of AI and machine learning, high-performance web applications are becoming more and more important, according to W3C project manager Philippe Le Hégaret in the related blog post.

Web Assembly is a binary instruction format for a stack-based VM. It serves as a portable target for compiling such high-performance languages ​​as Rust, C or C ++. The newly appointed standard enables applications written in Rust, C or C ++ to be deployed in modern processors and web browsers.

In other words: Web Assembly offers a way to run quasi-machine code in the browser. With it you can build applications that are much more efficient than is possible with JavaScript. The adblocker functionality of the Brave browser, for example, was implemented with Web Assembly in Rust and is therefore – according to the Brave blog – 69 times faster than before. Large in-browser apps such as Figma or games can be made executable in the browser using web assembly.

More performance with optimized loading times

Web Assembly is like a virtual machine and execution environment in one. In this way, loaded pages can be executed as natively compiled code. This goes hand in hand with almost native performance, optimized loading times and the fact that WASM – short for Web Assembly – provides a compilation target for existing code.

Although JavaScript only has a relatively small number of native types, much of what is related to performance in JS is based on the use of consistent typing, which at a certain point simply puts the whole thing in its place. Web Assemblies Bytecode is optimized for compactness and streaming so that a page can be executed while the rest of the code is still loading. Access to networks and API takes place via associated JavaScript libraries. The security model in Web Assembly is identical to that of JavaScript.

That should bring the future

The W3C blog also announces some interesting features for future versions that are already being written. We are working on threads, fixed width SIMD, reference types, tailcalls and an ECMAScript module integration that allows web assembly execution files to be loaded as ES6 modules.

In the long term, a garbage collection module, debugging interfaces or a system interface for the format – called WASI, which represents a collection of modules for low-level system functions such as file and network access – are planned.

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