Again, I am not extremely against wasm, but this writeup is pretty well done and my take away was that it was non-trivial to pickup, buggy and has poor documentation. I am curious who web assembly is for and who is really excited about it. Is it gaining traction in gaming, and also what am I missing(serious)?
edit: Can advertisers bypass content blockers by compiling to wasm?
Other than that, I can see a lot of uses for it, from small neural nets in the browser to high performance applications like photo editing, and of course gaming. It might not be for all applications, but it certainly has a spot.
Great writeup. I am a big proponent of the idea of webassembly as I believe many are. The browser is one of the greatest apps, and it is easy to look past many of its flaws because it provides a universal environment to develop for. I have always been a harsh critic of the balkanization apps provide when they are unneccessarily trying to extend functionality already provided by the browser and live natively on my device providing virtually nothing but more access to "my" resources.
That said, while I don't love writing apps in an old IBM GML and pulling in heaps of scripts to get the functionality I need, it is easy and well understood (which is why it has proliferated). If we are to change this, I think an entirely new paradigm would be easier to use and embrace than something like wasm because the browser has a lot of access to resources and this has a fairly narrow use-case relative to it's complexity.
I could be wrong, as this technology is super nascent and people as intelligent and synonomous with the web like BRendan Eich are openly supporting it, I just don't see it being embraced at the sort of tipping point neccessary to proliferate.
It will be very hard to build a community of people doing things like you have here: providing great resources and tutorials and a community of code base to build on. A new standard or tech must be 10x better than the current one and I do not feel this is.
edit: the first major demonstration was Unity's angry bots according to Wikipedia. So it appears this is for game devs, and game developers who want to build for the browser will be excited about this. I just think webassembly to be really far down on the ist of improvements we should make to the browser.
My point is that asm.js seems to provide a lot of leverage as an option and internet speed and machi ne resources also are improving. I would not say that the web, the browser or the current situation is ideal-- far from it, but webassembly seems like a very small improvement patch. It basically allows games devs who want to code specifically for the non-mobile browser to have slightly better performance by learning a very obtuse new language paradigm that is brand new.
- It doesn't improve on marking up apps in IBM markup language from the 60s which was originally developed for research papers.
- It doesn't improve security. I think it may actually be net bad for security given the obfuscation.
- It is targeted at a very narrow community
- It is largely embraced and championed by people who do not currently write web apps. It is unclear if their enthusiasm will carry over to them actually coding in it.
They should do so much more than this. Imagine even if browser companies put a python or ruby interpreter (or even a native c++ one) into the browser. Imagine all the possiblities of adding natice scss support, limiting or removing very old unused feature support and refactoring the codebases. ect. Imagine not using 1960s era research paper syntax to write a web app. There is so much room for improvement that making something that requires me (and so many others) how to write applications for very little benefit will be met with crickets. or extreme enthusiasm from people who don't write web apps and never will, but find it reminiscient of their mem-mgmt c-like language they use for mobile or systems programming.
All the things you want require a standardized, performant web assembly to meaningfully and portably implement.
Once integrated properly in desktop and mobile browsers (maybe two years from now), it would probably reduce most of the "useful" performance lead that native apps have over web apps. But, it's still a bet - because of course, no one really knows for sure what things will look like two years from now.
My take is two-fold. First, the tooling needs to mature. Second, a community of more hard-core developers (i.e., those who work regularly with C, C#, C++, etc.) needs to crop up.
Without those two things, I think you're right, it will never take off. But my bet is that both of those things happen; larger companies will at some point bank on it, and throw a bunch of tooling and development resources at it. Just a guess.
In particular, I'm curious what web assembly is supposed to be offering that Java applets didn't.