Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Google's Aimless Darting

Search Engine vendors should be in the clarification business, not the muddying business. All the more frustrating to read the news about Dart, Google's new web programming language to replace JavaScript.

My only reaction is - WHY???

Yes, JavaScript is not exactly a perfect language. It has warts, huge ones. That's been known for a long time. Is that sufficient reason to throw the whole language overboard and try and popularise a new one? Especially after CoffeeScript has already done the job? JavaScript has good parts as well as bad, and I'm not talking about just its technical aspects. Its ubiquity is a major strength. Replacing it is an exercise with very doubtful prospects. I don't think even Google can pull it off.

CoffeeScript has taken the right approach, in my opinion. CoffeeScript is JavaScript with lead shielding over the reactor core. And that was all that was required. CoffeeScript on the server side uses Nodejs to run scripts anyway, so one can write server-side code in CoffeeScript and run it with "coffee" instead of with "node", and the ugliness and danger of JavaScript can be neatly sidestepped. Even on the client side, a single line such as

<script type="text/JavaScript" src="coffeescript.js"></script>

will allow you to write the rest of your client-side code in CoffeeScript, because coffeescript.js is a minimised library that will let your browser interpret CoffeeScript natively. Your application code will look like this:

<script type="text/CoffeeScript">
# CoffeeScript code

What is Dart going to do for us beyond that, functionality-wise? Technically, Dart won't even replace JavaScript, because it will compile to JavaScript. Does that sound familiar? Because that's just what CoffeeScript does as well! Was it so hard for Google to get behind CoffeeScript? Some NIH at work, I think.

Now the frustrating thing is that Dart will waste at least some developer mindshare and bandwidth when the world should have been just getting on with the job - using CoffeeScript plus jQuery on the client side, CoffeeScript plus Nodejs on the server side.

What a waste!

No comments: