Google launches Dart 1.0, positions as alternative to JavaScript

Google has unveiled version 1.0 of its Web programming language Dart at the Devoxx conference in Belgium – and has JavaScript firmly in its sights.

The Dart project, which has been in the works for over two years, now comprises the language, an SDK, as well as Dartium, a Chrome browser to run Dart programs, and utility support which converts Dart into JavaScript for browsers unable to support the language, called dart2js.

According to Lars Bak, Google software engineer and head of Dart, the immediate plans going forward include improving Dartium and Dart’s overall performance, as well as “ensuring the platform remains rock solid.”

Bak cites companies such as Blossom, Mandrill, Montage and Soundtrap who have already used Dart in production; yet the overall goal, to best JavaScript, is an ambitious one to say the least.

Given that JavaScript is both long-running and a standard – whilst Dart, open as it may be, could still be seen as ‘just a Google project’ – it’ll be interesting to see how things develop from here.

And it’s worth remembering the competitors’ view of Dart when the concept was launched back in 2011. Microsoft, in a blog post, disagreed with the view that “JavaScript has fundamental flaws and to support these scenarios requires a clean break from JavaScript in both syntax and runtime.”

When comparing programming languages, TIOBE is usually the place to go, and the latest (November 2013) figures show JavaScript in 10th position – up one position from this time last year.

Aside from Trancat-SQL, which has jumped 14 places over the past year and leapt into the top 10, the top 20 programming languages remain relatively entrenched, with the top four (C, Java, Objective-C and C++) holding position throughout the year.

Hopes will be high for Bak and his co-worker, Kasper Lund – but translating that to developer buy-in is a different thing entirely.

What do you make of Google Dart?

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22 Nov 2013, 6:29 p.m.

DART seems to me to be a well designed language with the a good set of features that are mostly unsurprising and represent a good set of compromises.
Most languages in serious use, seem to need, need, need the developer to remember and use a large array arcane syntax in addition to any complex thoughts they may have about the task their code is intended to achieve.
Am part way through porting 20KLOC of C++ and DART is breath of fresh air though it lacks, thus far, the range of mature libraries I would like.