Dart FUD

Given that I currently do little to no programming specifically for the browser or should I say actually writing JavaScript code, I had, until recently, all but completely ignored Google's Dart language.  It's been about a year since Google released it and I recall reading that it was a non-standard JavaScript replacement which was only to be supported by Google's Chrome browser and it was history repeating itself (in a bad way) reminding folks of VB script or maybe ActiveX.

Not to rehash the whole of the criticism but basically Google was accused of trying to do what Microsoft did with their own proprietary browser technologies which unfortunately led to a set of badly fragmented web "standards."  Given that I don't love JavaScript, tending to be more of a static-typed guy, replacing, or trying to replace, JavaScript with a variety of alternatives does not sound totally unreasonable to me.

While I have never attended a Google I/O conference, I try to digest at least a portion of what happens there via YouTube videos as time permits.  Last week, while trying to catch up a few of these, I happened to find Bob Nystrom's presentation on Dart and I am really glad I spent the forty minutes or so to watch it.  This is true for several reasons:

  1. Bob's modesty (the guy is brilliant) and sense of humor work well together in such a presentation
  2. He cleared up my ignorance of the Dart language and the development environment
  3. Bob presents the balance of static/dynamic typed nature of the language nicely
  4. His review of the language and tooling make a great case for any developer to take a look
  5. I had no idea it runs on all major browsers, NOW
From what I can tell Dart is feature-rich, very close but not quite "done", and it underscores the idea, not a unique one, that new languages and development environments can leverage an existing browser language, JavaScript, to make standards-based programming for the browser a bit easier and more efficient. 

If you have a negative or no opinion of Dart and forty minutes or so, I suggest checking out Bob's video.  I don't expect JavaScript programmers will leave JavaScript for Dart, or any of the other languages or technologies which are/can be converted to JavaScript, in droves, at least not today.  But in my opinion Dart is a very interesting technology with some of Google's resources behind it, a very active completely open-source development community, and has potential to inspire other efforts.  Part of Dart's active community includes a podcast which certainly echoes the open source spirit of the effort.  Dart is one to watch...and closely, at least for now.

Happy learning
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