Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Dart Team Welcomes TypeScript

It must be something in the water. Gilad Bracha and Lars Bak announced Dart in Aarhus, Denmark about a year ago as a “new programming language for structured web programming”. Yesterday, Anders Hejlsberg, once again in Aarhus, Denmark, announced Microsoft’s new programming language, TypeScript, “a language for application-scale JavaScript development”. Obviously, there’s something about the water in Aarhus that causes language designers to want to tackle the problem of large scale web development. Perhaps that’s why we chose to put the dart2js team in Aarhus full time!

Now that we’ve had a chance to take a look at TypeScript, the Dart team would like to welcome the TypeScript team to the neighborhood. If you already have a large JavaScript codebase, and if you already use Visual Studio, we think that TypeScript could be a great addition to your project.

A year ago, JavaScript programmers would frequently ask us why we needed a new programming language for the web. We argued that developing large web applications was hard, and that optional static type annotations could help. We also argued that the web needed better tooling support. We think that TypeScript has validated both of these statements. Going forward, I think the Dart project and TypeScript will learn a lot from each other.

A lot of people have been wondering what this means for Dart. The fact is, we’re more excited than ever! By making a break from certain parts of JavaScript’s syntax and semantics, we’ve eradicated large classes of bugs caused by various JavaScript gotchas. Nonetheless, last week, the Dart team released its own approach to using JavaScript in Dart apps, and our ongoing work with Web Components and isolates is finally delivering on the long hoped-for dream of encapsulation in the browser.

We’re even more enthusiastic about our plans to go beyond what JavaScript can do natively. Even though Dart can be compiled to JavaScript, Dart’s virtual machine opens up entirely new possibilities. For instance, our early testing with a feature called snapshotting allows Dart apps to start up 10 times faster than normal JavaScript. We also think that Dart is going to be a great fit for mobile. Finally, although V8 performs amazingly well in various JavaScript benchmarks, the Dart VM is already beating it in some of our internal benchmarks.

So once again, we’d like to welcome TypeScript. We think the web has suffered from too little choice for too long, and we think that the future of large-scale web development is looking brighter than ever!