Empowering Your Web Applications with WebAssembly
by Mariot Tsitoara
What Is WebAssembly?
Put simply, WebAssembly is an open standard that defines a portable binary code format for executable programs. It essentially allows you to write code in other programming languages like Rust, C/C++, GO, and others; and compile them to run on the browser. Its power lies in its ability to execute code at native speed, allowing for an extremely fast and efficient experience. With WebAssembly, you get to experience the advantages of your favorite programming languages while benefiting from the power and performance of the Web, and all without having to learn a new language.
It can now be run in most modern browsers including Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge.
What Is The Purpose Of WebAssembly?
There’s a thriving community of developers putting WebAssembly to use today. For example, there’s a fun browser game called Funky Karts written in WebAssembly, a WebAssembly pathfinding demo, a 2D character animation program, and much more. It is a great choice when it comes to games. Let’s say you have a casual game that players want to hop onto when they have a few minutes of downtime. Casual games are there to provide fast and light entertainment, so users must be able to start the game straight away. Due to its power and speed, WebAssembly lends itself well to this task, getting games started quickly. It also works well for AAA games that have heavy assets that historically may suffer from speed problems.
However, it’s not just in quirky games and image editing that it thrives. It’s not a program with a niche set of applications, but rather a new way of doing things that has the potential to shift every element of the web experience. Inside the browser, WebAssembly can be used to provide better performance for CAD applications, music applications, on interactive education software, with VPNs, with live video augmentations, and the list goes on.
How WebAssembly Will Empower Your Web Applications
We live in the digital age where we expect faster and faster responses from our web applications. Gone are the days that you would wait patiently for a low-resolution image to load section by section, all the while hoping no one jumps on the phone thereby cutting your connection. We now have increasingly powerful, dynamic, and almost futuristic web applications that we couldn’t contemplate even a decade ago. Of course, this explosion in powerful web apps all ties into the data boom we have been experiencing in the last 5 years. It’s now easier than ever to capture and analyze large chunks of data that we can use to fuel powerful web and AI programs.
What Are The Implications Of WebAssembly?
So what about the future? Is WebAssembly the future? There has been a lot of buzz surrounding it over the last couple of years leading to more and more developers taking notice. And when developers take notice, they start developing! That’s where WebAssembly is at right now. There’s been a huge increase in use cases for it and the list continues to grow.
Speed is undoubtedly an important factor when it comes to any application or technology, but it’s especially true when considering larger, more technical, and more powerful applications. However, it’s not ALL about speed, but also flexibility, functionality, and optimization.
This is where WebAssembly really sets itself apart from other speed-boosting projects of the past. One huge perk of WebAssembly is that it expands the types of programs that can be delivered on the web, essentially allowing for a more diverse and robust user experience and web landscape.
About the Author
This article was contributed by Mariot Tsitoara, author of Beginning Git and GitHub.