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Quick Tip: Try WebAssembly in Your Browser Today

In June 2015, inventor of JavaScript and co-founder of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, announced something very exciting for the web: WebAssembly.

Eich explains that JavaScript has been dubbed as the assembly language of the web, something which he disagrees on and goes on to introduce WebAssembly, “a new intermediate representation for safe code on the Web“, as he describes it. Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple and some other folks have been experimenting on it before Eich’s announcement.

WebAssembly, “wasm” for short, .wasm filename suffix, is an emerging standard whose goal is to define a safe, portable, size- and load-time efficient binary compiler target which offers near-native performance—a virtual CPU for the Web.

Why the need for WebAssembly? Well, asm.js requires the engines to optimize for it, making the parser the hot spot (literally – mobile devices can get really hot). This is due to the need for transport compression which also saves bandwidth, but decompressing it before parsing can be painful. Also, once browsers support the WebAssembly format natively, JavaScript and wasm can diverge, without introducing unsafe or inappropriate features into JavaScript just for use by compilers sourcing a few radically different programming languages.

Auth0 explains WebAssembly pretty well in this post, if you need a better overview.

WebAssembly – One Year Later

WebAssembly is designed with several use cases in mind, inside and outside the browser. As you can guess, wasm can be used for image/video editing, AAA games in the browser, live augmentation, Virtual Reality and so much more. Pretty much everything that is already possible on the web, but with the potential to be faster and more efficient. But WebAssembly can be also useful outside the browser: server side applications, hybrid native apps, server side computing of untrusted code are just some of the potential applications.

The roadmap is also going well. In the last year, the WebAssembly Community Group has made a great amount of progress, producing:

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