What JavaScript's inventor really thinks about Google Dart

Brendan Eich says that Google's language is not likely to get browser support and that browsers probably would not be extended to support native code

Google's Dart language, which attempts to address JavaScript's supposed weaknesses, is getting a mixed reaction from the inventor of JavaScript itself, Brendan Eich.

While admiring Google's efforts to make the Document Object Model more usable as part of Dart, Eich was skeptical about its chance for support in browsers. "Dart is one of the many languages that currently compiles to JavaScript, and that's a lot to say about that because like in Native Client from Google, I don't think Dart is going to be natively supported ever in other browsers. Not in Safari, not in IE (Internet Explorer)," said Eich, who is CTO at Mozilla, at the Node Summit conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. JavaScript has been supported in popular browsers, including Mozilla's own Firefox browser.

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Google has argued that while JavaScript is good for building simple Web applications, it has its shortcomings in maintaining structure as a program grows. Dart attempts to address this.

Eich was not optimistic that browsers would be extended to support native code. While saying this type of integration could benefit C++ games developers port to the browser, Eich again doubted browser vendors would back it. He cited Google's Native Client as an effort in this vein, using a safety-checking compiler, running native code in a sandbox, and leveraging "a runtime full of APIs." But he said Microsoft and Apple would not support that compiler. "The second problem is that big fat set of APIs is tied directly into the [Google] Chrome browser. They're not APIs that are based on standards. There's some of them based on WebKit, some of them based on Chrome code. You can't get those APIs out of IE, you can't get them out of Safari." For Mozilla in particular, its mission is to make the Web better and make JavaScript better so it can talk to all the hardware, Eich said.

Eich also stressed a need for JavaScript tooling and sees that happening. He cited Adobe's embracing of HTML5 as an example of a tooling effort for JavaScript.

Additionally, Eich said an improvement intended for ECMAScript 6, the planned next version of the JavaScript base standard, would address an issue with programming errors made in the strict mode in ECMAScript 5. "The next version will in certain contexts make those be ahead-of-time errors, so when you load your code, it doesn't even run. You get a hard error." ECMAscript 6 is due for adoption in 2013, according to Eich.

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