Dart – Google’s Next Bullseye

Just a few days ago, Google approved the release of Dart 1.1. With the stable release of this C-type object-oriented language, they are hoping to better compete with JavaScript, and hit a bullseye as the open web platform of choice for HTML/web developers. Google engineers working on Dart 1.1 are trying to create a more feature-rich and evolved language on which to build more multifaceted client-side web applications.

So what advantages is Google touting over original JavaScript? One of the primary advantages is a significant increase in speed with improvements over its previous release. Performance benchmarks being used by the company show the following improvements in Dart2js – its Dart to Java compiler -according to Dart News. Dart 1.1 offers up to a 25% improvement in performance over release 1.0, with enhanced features and better tools, with runtimes equal to JavaScript if not surpassing it in performance.

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Another benefit of Google’s latest release of Dart is its scalability across all major browser applications, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera, and Apple Safari. There are three main ways to run Dart code. 1) Pre-compiled into JavaScript using the dart2js compiler with any of the above browsers. 2) In the Dartium Browser, which is basically a web browser that includes a virtual machine and can be used as a development tool for Dart applications. Or, 3) stand-alone, allowing Dart SDK with a stand-alone VM to run in a command-line environment.

An additional reason to try Google Dart SDK version 1.1 over JavaScript is for its server-side improvements. Seth Ladd, in his shared post to the Google Chrome Developers group on Google+, says “[there is] new UDP support for servers, allowing developers to write more efficient media streaming apps… and new docs for command-line and server-side Dart apps.” This release also includes improvements in server-side Dart support for: “large files, file copying, process signal handlers, and terminal information.”

Productivity improvements in the Dart editor include better debugging tools, enhanced code completion and tooltips. Additionally, increased performance of the analyzer and editor provides additional improvements in speed. The Dart home page has a link to create a Dart web app “in under an hour, even if you’ve never written a web app before”. In using the readily available documentation, libraries, tools, and access to its developer community, it is possible to create complex web applications in about a day.

The possibilities seem almost limitless with distribution sites like runnable.com sharing and combining snippets of Dart code samples as templates, enabling easy collaboration for the creation of web applications and much more. Utilizing virtual machines through your browser from Runnable, you can test live code, modify it for your environment and then test it again before implementing it in your environment. Accessibility to code samples for Dart through these browser-based VMs, without the requirement of extra software or hardware – a.k.a. using “The Cloud” – cuts out the overhead requirements of extra software and hardware. It also makes it possible for the newbies of the development world to practice and try their hand at web development as easily and painlessly as downloading a new app from an app store. Google, it seems you have hit a bullseye with Dart!

About Melissa Coen

Melissa Coen, is currently the IT Systems Manager for United Global Sourcing, Inc, located in Troy, MI. She has been working in IT for the last 15 years, with companies ranging from small startups to Fortune 500, and enjoys getting to work with new products and services in the continually evolving field of Information Technology. Melissa is happily married with 3 beautiful daughters and resides in Metro Detroit.

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