WebAssembly 1.0 and W3C core specification arrive

The W3C has published the WebAssembly core specification, along with companions pertaining to web and JavaScript APIs

WebAssembly 1.0 and W3C core specification arrive

WebAssembly, the highly touted binary format that promises to make web applications run faster, has reached 1.0 status with the publishing of the WebAssembly core specification. This marks the arrival of a new platform for the web that allows high-level languages like C, C++, and Rust to run in the browser.

Published as an official recommendation under the jurisdiction of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the WebAssembly core specification, previously available in a working draft format, defines a low-level machine that closely mimics the functionality of microprocessors. The W3C core specification document describes WebAssembly 1.0.

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WebAssembly is a portable, low-level code format geared for efficient execution and compact representation. Using just-in-time compilation, WebAssembly applications execute at nearly the speed of code compiled for a native platform.

W3C earlier this month formally published two other specifications pertaining to WebAssembly, both of which also had previously been in draft form:

  • WebAssembly Web API, which defines a Promise-based interface for executing a .wasm resource. The structure of a .wasm resource allows execution to begin before the entire resource has been retrieved, further enhancing the responsiveness of WebAssembly applications.
  • WebAssembly JavaScript Interface, offering a JavaScript API to invoke and pass parameters to WebAssembly functions. In browsers, WebAssembly’s interactions with the host environment are managed through JavaScript. This means WebAssembly relies on the JavaScript security model.

Designed to be a compilation target for any programming language, WebAssembly has the backing of all the major browser makers including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla. WebAssembly 1.0 is available in the browser engines from all four organizations.

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WebAssembly reached minimum viable product status in March 2017, after the technology first was introduced in 2015. Looking to foster a future for WebAssembly outside the browser, Mozilla, Red Hat, Intel, and Fastly in November 2019 formed the Bytecode Alliance to collaborate on standards for the bytecode format.

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