Big web performance boost expected with WebAssembly

Javascript is the universal programming language of the web. Almost all web sites use it to some extent, including this site (boot13). Although many users (including myself) use Noscript and similar systems to block Javascript when browsing unfamiliar sites, it’s difficult to use many popular sites without it. For example, I spend a lot of time using Google Analytics, and I’ve configured Noscript to allow JavaScript code to run on that site.

One of the problems with JavaScript is that it’s a scripted language. That means your web browser has to parse JavaScript code, one line at a time. This is a very slow process, and contributes to slow loading times on many major sites.

Various efforts to speed up JavaScript have come and gone, without much traction. Now, several major software developers have teamed up to try again. A new JavaScript assembler called WebAssembly (aka wasm) is under development by Mozilla, Microsoft, Google, and Apple. It’s too soon to know exactly when WebAssembly will start appearing in web browsers, but we’re hopeful that it will become the new standard when it does.

About jrivett

Jeff Rivett has worked with and written about computers since the early 1980s. His first computer was an Apple II+, built by his father and heavily customized. Jeff's writing appeared in Computist Magazine in the 1980s, and he created and sold a game utility (Ultimaker 2, reviewed in the December 1983 Washington Apple Pi Journal) to international markets during the same period. Proceeds from writing, software sales, and contract programming gigs paid his way through university, earning him a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) degree at UWO. Jeff went on to work as a programmer, sysadmin, and manager in various industries. There's more on the About page, and on the Jeff Rivett Consulting site.

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