Eich: JavaScript will deliver on Java's broken promise

Eich believes JavaScript can be a 'virtual machine embedded everywhere that you can target code at'

OMG JavaScript
Flickr/Andy Piper

Is it JavaScript's destiny to accomplish what Java was intended to achieve and be ubiquitous throughout computing? JavaScript founder Brendan Eich believes that could be the case.

Speaking at the Node Summit conference in San Francisco this week, Eich talked about what could be in store for the popular language. "I think JavaScript has an evolutionary destiny to be what Java was trying to be -- this sort of virtual machine embedded everywhere that you can target code at," and support multiple languages, Eich said during a panel session on the evolution of JavaScript.

"The JVM absolutely does that well," he added. "But there is another destiny that's in front of us right now with JavaScript that's competing, and that's hand-coding and evolving the language." The ECMA committee overseeing JavaScript is taking a look at JavaScript as a target of compilers as well as hand-coding, he said.

JavaScript has become the key language for Web programming, given its functionality in browsers. It is faring very well in language popularity indexes lately, though it trails Java.

StrongLoop's Bert Belder, involved in the development of the Node.js server-side JavaScript platform and its io.js fork, sees advantages to using JavaScript over Java. "In JavaScript, you could write a Web server in [five] lines of code. No way you could ever do that in Java," Belder said at the conference.

Currently, the ECMAScript specification underlying JavaScript is the subject of two upgrades under concurrent development, versions 6 and 7. Version 7 will include such features as async programming, and some new features are already being implemented in browsers. Developers are needed who want to use the new features and demand them from browser vendors, Eich said. He also stressed the importance of backward compatibility in JavaScript.

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