Google's Dart language is approved -- but adoption is no guarantee

Ecma International gives a thumbs-up to Dart programming language, but won't likely inspire much uptake with developers

Google's Dart language, proposed by the search giant as an alternative to JavaScript, has earned some legitimacy this week: Ecma International has officially recognized the specification as a standard.

Now officially known as "ECMA-408," the first edition of the Dart standard -- Dart 1.3 -- is available as a PDF download from Ecma's website. But Ecma's stamp of approval won't amount to much without larger and more compelling reasons for the language to be broadly adopted.

When InfoQ asked Google Dart project lead Anders Sandholm what the standardization, he replied, " ... there is an open process for the onward evolution of Dart and that anyone can become an Ecma member, join TC52, and have a direct impact on Dart's future development."

This evolution of the language through its standard, rather than merely the source code for one of its implementations, speaks to Google's need for other people to build on it as a fixed base. This stands in contrast to what could be called the "GitHub way," where users can fork and change the project rather than standing in line. The source code for Dart is freely available, so it stands to reason some of those truly interested in evolving Dart might well fork it.

It's clear that a language doesn't need to be ratified by Ecma to be a success. JavaScript may also be ECMAScript, but its wide use has sprung more from the fact that it's everywhere to begin with and is becoming the basis for new breakthroughs, thanks to projects like Node.js. Python, another language with no Ecma standard, also enjoys wide use, in big part because of the sheer utility and breadth of support.

The single biggest obstacle for Dart remains the general indifference of developers to the language, despite Google's continued investment. If anything, Google's Go language i's finding more traction because it addresses problems developers are trying to solve (such as parallelism and concurrency across multiple machines). If ratifying Dart as a standard is meant to spread the language via adoption by browser makers apart from Google, it's an idea that seems a long way from paying off.

This story, "Google's Dart language is approved -- but adoption is no guarantee," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.