Let’s Talk WebAssembly


3 min read

Let’s Talk WebAssembly

WebAssembly, often abbreviated as WASM, is a low-level programming language that can be used to create web applications. It is compiled to bytecode that runs natively in the web browser.

Why use WebAssembly?

WASM is especially useful for running code written in languages that are not transpiled to JavaScript, the programming language that runs natively in web browsers.

One use-case for WebAssembly is to take code written in a language like C++, which is not normally supported on the web, and run it in the browser after converting it to WASM. This allows developers to reuse their existing code and skills to build web applications. Developers can also write code in languages such as C and Rust and have it compile down to WebAssembly.

This ability to use well-known programming languages opens up a lot of possibilities for creating complex applications that run very fast on the web. Anything from a photo or video editor to full featured games can be built without sacrificing performance.

WebAssembly can also be used to improve the performance of existing web applications. By compiling code to WebAssembly, developers can make their apps run faster, especially if the code is complex or heavy on computations.

Overall, WebAssembly provides a way to run code on the web without JavaScript, and can help make web applications faster.

How is WebAssembly different from JavaScript?

Although WebAssembly and JavaScript run in the browser, they are very different from each other.

WebAssembly is a compiled bytecode language, though it is sandboxed within a web browser and doesn’t interact with the underlying system. Unlike JavaScript, WASM is statically-typed.

In contrast, JavaScript is an interpreted language that has direct access to the Document Object Model (DOM) and uses dynamic types.

Key Differences

  • JavaScript is a dynamically typed language while WebAssembly uses static types.
  • JavaScript is a garbage collected language while WebAssembly is not.
  • JavaScript is an interpreted language while WebAssembly is compiled to bytecode.
  • WebAssembly generally has better performance than JavaScript, especially when working with complex computations.

Get started with WebAssembly

If you have an existing project written in a statically typed language, it will be easy to port it using a WASM compiler.

There are many helpful tools for getting started with new WASM projects, such as Emscripten, which provides an SDK for compiling C, C++, and other languages to WebAssembly.

Wrapping up

WASM is an incredibly powerful programming language that has the potential to redefine how we create and use web applications. It is incredibly fast, secure, and has endless use-cases. Expect to hear more buzz as it continues to catch on in the web development community.

I hope this article helped you learn more about WebAssembly. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment and of course follow me for more like this!

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