Google preps Dart 1.0 to challenge JavaScript

In addition, Google Web Toolkit 3.0, featuring modularity and Java 7 and 8 backing, is planned for next year

Google is getting ready to bring its JavaScript rival Dart language to a formal 1.0 release and has a good idea what will be featured in the 3.0 version of Google Web Toolkit (GWT), due next year.

Dart is slated to reach the 1.0 milestone soon, said Emily Fortuna, a software engineer at Google. Billed as a language for structured Web programming, Dart will be packed with features such as method cascades for easier modification of objects, as well as named arguments to improve readability and discoverability. JQuery JavaScript functionality is included, too.

While Dart has full, native support in only Google's own Chrome browser, it does accommodate other browsers. "We can compile to JavaScript, so we do have the support for any browser," Fortuna said at the recent Google I/O conference in San Francisco. "The VM [virtual machine] is open source. Once other browsers decide they would like to add it, they're free to do so." Dart has been used in projects including the Glyph 3D font atlas-generation tool for game developers and artists, along with the project management tool.

Version 3.0 of GWT, for building browser-based applications, is slated to become more modular and faster, according to Google engineers. "Mainly, we're looking at doubling the speed of the compiler," engineer Ray Cromwell said at Google I/O. The monolithic GWT SDK will be broken up into smaller tools, and there will be more integration with other tools. JavaScript output will be tuned for modern JavaScript virtual machines.

Asked how GWT's future relates to Dart, Cromwell said the technologies are on orthogonal paths. "In other words, Dart's not replacing GWT or vice versa." But Cromwell said he did not know if GWT would ever compile to Dart. That is a matter for speculation, he added.

Java 7 and 8 will be supported in GWT 3.0, with all Java 7 language features available. Project Lambda capabilities in Java 8, which would benefit programming for multicore processors, would be accommodated once Oracle releases Java 8, Cromwell said. Also eyed for version 3.0 will be better reporting and profiling tools to spot performance problems, as well as improved CodeSplitter capabilities.

Hybrid apps will be supported; GWT code will be compiled together with external JavaScript libraries. Modern mobile Web browsers will be supported, and there will be mobile-optimized widgets. Packaged app deployment will be key. "If you want to put a GWT app into an app store, it should be really easy to do so," Cromwell saiid

Google also intends to close out 100 top bugs in GWT and improve speed and reliability of GWT unit testing, Cromwell said. Deprecated code will be deleted in the upgrade. Support will be removed for versions 6 and 7 of Internet Explorer. Prior to the release of GWT 3.0, Google in the fourth quarter of this year plans to release GWT 2.6, described by Cromwell as a minor update.

This article, "Google preps Dart 1.0 to challenge JavaScript," 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 business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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