Google throws a 180 on its plans for Dart language

Would-be JavaScript replacement will now compile into JavaScript

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Back in 2013, Google felt the Dart language deserved a native virtual machine baked into Chrome, because it felt JavaScript couldn't deliver the speed it craves. It therefore started the process of getting Dart turned into a standard to help things along.

Fast forward to Wednesday and the Dart team, which Google supports but does not control, has decided Google was wrong, deciding that “In order to do what's best for our users and the web, and not just Google Chrome, we will focus our web efforts on compiling Dart to JavaScript.”

The reason for the decision seems to be that developers didn't much care for a Dart VM

Dart co-founders Lars Bak and Kasper Lund have posted that “We work with many teams, inside and outside of Google, that use Dart every day to build business-critical apps. Their feedback is consistent: they love working with the Dart language, libraries, and tools, and they compile Dart to JavaScript when they deploy to the web.”

“However, they also tell us they need better integration with JavaScript, and they need an easier way to debug and optimize their apps across all modern browsers. We listened, and today we are announcing a more focused strategy for Dart for the web.”

That strategy means the VM for Chrome goes out the door.

The post also says that Google Ads is a heavy Dart user and is ever-so-committed to the language for the foreseeable future, so the decision not to do a VM isn't a sign of decreasing interest in Dart.

The decision looks sensible because whatever its shortcomings, JavaScript is ubiquitous, runs well in all major browsers and is well-known to developers.

Not even Google can change that. And as the Dart story shows, it's tried. And failed. ®


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