Google’s JavaScript replacement Dart hit its first stable release earlier in the week.

Dart is Google’s answer to modern web development problems in JavaScript that the company believes can’t be solved in the language itself. The 1.0 release marks the first stable version of the programming language since development began in 2011 and several benchmarks already show Dart performing better than JavaScript.

But what does this mean for you as a consumer, a fledgling web developer, or even an established JavaScript developer?


Eclipse-based Dart Editor with a sample project.
Eclipse-based Dart Editor with a sample project.

First and foremost, a stable release means Dart is ready for primetime. Whether you’ve been waiting for the dust to settle before getting into the language or are taking your first steps into web development, Google provides a number of tools to make coding and debugging Dart easier.

The Eclipse-based Dart Editor is the perfect development environment for anyone just trying out Dart or wanting up-to-date editor support for the latest Dart releases. The editor comes bundled with the Dart download and running a project will open up a custom-built version of Chromium called Dartium that includes a Dart virtual machine.

Though Chrome itself doesn’t include a Dart VM, the included dart2js tool will compile your code into JavaScript, making your Dart-powered web apps suitable to use in every “modern” browser. In this sense, Dart is a lot like other languages that “transcompile” down to JavaScript, including CoffeeScript and Microsoft’s more conservative answer to their own set of JavaScript problems – TypeScript.

As for support outside Dart’s own community, the IntelliJ IDEA family, Adobe’s Flash Pro, and Sublime Text (amongst a growing number of apps) already support Dart editing and debugging.


At the end of the day, you shouldn’t notice if your browser is using Dart or JavaScript to power a web app. And all of this is mooted by the fact that no browser – Chrome included – ships with a Dart VM.

But for Chrome users, the future of Dart is tentatively optimistic. Work has already begun on bringing the Dart VM into mainline Chrome, but not everyone thinks Google have the answer just yet.

The teams behind Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera have no plans to add a Dart VM into their browsers at this time. Though compiling down to JavaScript takes care of the core issue of running your Dart projects in these other browsers, it doesn’t address Google’s aim of having it replace JavaScript as the lingua franca of the web. There are also disagreements about the implications of introducing a second language into browsers and whether it’ll create more fragmentation rather than solve any issues with JavaScript.

Ultimately, it isn’t so much a matter of what Dart can bring to you as a Chrome user directly, but how it can help developers create better web content and experiences for you.

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