Google's Dart Becomes ECMA's Dart
Written by Mike James   
Friday, 13 December 2013

Google's Dart just reached version 1.0, but now it seems that it has aspirations to being an international standard.  The question is will this make any difference to the language's future?






JavaScript is one of the few languages to be standardized by ECMA - European Computer Manufacturers Associate - hence its "other" name ECMAScript. The only other languages and language related technologies that have ECMA standards are C#, CLI, C++/CLI and JSON. You can see that there is a very strong Microsoft bias here. 

Sun also submitted Java to ECMA, but it withdrew it before anything happened.  Google on the other hand has gone as far as allowing ECMA to create a committee, TC52, to publish a standard for the Dart language. Of course, the original creators and Google engineers are going to be providing most of the input to the committee, it is chaired by a Googler, and it could be that ECMA simply rubber stamps what Google offers it. After all can you see a technical committee bringing up some subtle point of syntax or semantics for a language that has been so far created by a single tight group?  

The scope statement of the committee reads:

"To standardize the syntax and semantics of a modern, object oriented programming language called Dart as well as standardizing core libraries and complementary technologies that support the language. This work should not use patents or if so then only royalty free patents. " 

Given that Google effectively own Dart, what advantage does standardization bring? The answer to what Google thinks it brings is indicated in the Chromium blog:

"The new standardization process is an important step towards a future where Dart runs natively in web browsers."

and this seems reasonable. A standard is something that would be required before other browser makers decided to fall in line and support native Dart. It is probably a necessary but far from sufficient, condition, however, with Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla having other interests to further. 


The blog also mentions:

"We’ll be collaborating with the broader web community via TC52 to responsibly evolve the language going forward. "

and this also seems like a reasonable step in the right direction. 

Last but not least, having the backing of a standard might just encourage possible users to believe that the language won't sink if Google gets distracted with other projects and decides that Dart is dispensable. However, a strong open source development community capable of supporting Dart without Google's input would be a better reassurance.

If you want to help, Google would like you to join the committee. After all, it still hasn't a Vice Chair.

So can we expect to see ECMA CoffeeScript or TypeScript in the near future? Probably not.


More Information

Ecma forms TC52 for Dart Standardization


How to join Ecma

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 14 December 2013 )