WebAssembly is possibly the most exciting development in any area of programming at the moment and it has just reached an important milestone - consensus.
WASM has been progressing steadily but this week the "WebAssembly stakeholders" have agreed that it is time to end the browser preview phase and declare the WASM API and binary format complete for initial implementation. What this means is that we can now move forward to browsers coming with WASM support by default.
WebAssembly CG members representing four browsers, Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and WebKit, have reached consensus that the design of the initial (MVP ) WebAssembly API and binary format is complete to the extent that no further design work is possible without implementation experience and significant usage. This marks the end of the Browser Preview and signals that browsers can begin shipping WebAssembly on-by-default. From this point forward, future features will be designed to ensure backwards compatibility.
This doesn't mean everything is done and dusted as there is still a lot of work left unfinished. What we currently have is a basic toolchain in the form of the Emscripten compiler. This means you can program in C/C++, which isn't the widest choice in the world. There are also lots of omissions from the representation - no native strings, no exception handling and so on. These things can be emulated within the basic WASM but the resulting code tends to be slow.
The next step is for a W3C working group to be formed to complete the formal specification. The community have also decided on the WASM logo:
Is this likely?
It really might turn out to be a partnership rather than a takeover.
Ian Elliot is the author of the newly published Just jQuery: The Core UI (I/O Press)
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