Google Dart upgrade zooms in on mobile app dev

Google's JavaScript alternative focuses on building mobile apps, with special accommodations for Android devices

Although struggling against JavaScript, Google continues to plow forward with Dart, sprucing up the language with mobile development capabilities.

Dart 1.5, released June 26, makes it easier to build mobile Web applications, said Kevin Moore, Google product manager for Dart, in a blog post. "The Dart 1.5 release cycle was short -- just four weeks -- but we are excited to continue delivering great improvements to our platform and tools." Key to version 1.5 is a development version of Dartium, which features Google Chrome with the Dart runtime, for use on Android devices. The Dart editor, meanwhile, supports mobile Web applications written in Dart and deployed on Android. Version 1.5 is available for download.

Dart has been positioned as Google's JavaScript alternative, compiling to JavaScript but with better speed. Google has championed the supposed benefits of moving applications from JavaScript to Dart, claiming fewer lines of code are needed in Dart. But the recently posted RedMonk Programming Language Rankings showed Dart at number 39, the same ranking it held in January. Redmonk cited the challenges Google faces given the popularity of JavaScript.

With version 1.5, Google also introduced an update to its Dart Polymer package and shipped two new sets of Polymer elements, including core_elements, giving developers access to Polymer infrastructure components, and paper_elements, with Polymer elements following Google's new Material Design pattern. Polymer features a library for easier application development on the Web, leveraging Web components.

Dart 1.5 drew some positive reviews attached to Google's Dart blog. "This is kind of huge. Dart debugging on the device and updates to Polymer to make creating new Dart apps easy and beautiful," said one commenter. "I'm actually excited to build my next thing in this language, right now."

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