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>To make such an airy assertion in an under-researched comment makes me suspect that you don't know that much about either PNaCl or "any browser". So why did you make that confident-sounding claim? Unfortunately, I can evaluate technologies according only to my experience and knowledge. According to my limited knowledge and experience, what PNaCl evolves to seems like the way to go: I can use whatever language I like to write code; I can utilize resources of computers efficiently; The code is performed in a sandbox; It's based on non proprietary standards (I mean LLVM, not Pepper).

>The bit about "can be easily integrated into any browser" is false due to Pepper, the large new target runtime for *NaCl. Pepper is a non-standard and unspecified-except-by-C++-source plugin API abstracting over both the OS and WebKit -- now Blink -- internals. It's a new technology, how is it supposed to be standardized? IMO, it's better to create some implementation, and then, to standardize it, not vice versa. AFAIU, how Pepper API works, the application is run as a separate process, operating system APIs are isolated with Pepper API and there's a way to post JavaScript code to be executed in browser's event dispatch thread to update and query DOM. This API seems to be narrow and generic enough to be supported in any browser. Code which provides OS services can be reused from code as is, the only variable part is DOM interaction, which is narrow enough to be supported in any browser.

>Have you heard of ES4? Mozillans including yours truly poured years into it, based on the belief that programming-in-the-large required features going back to "JS2" in 1999 (designed by Waldemar Horwat), such as classes with fixed fields and bound methods, packages, etc. I closely monitored what have been happening to Harmony, and it was obvious that this effort wouldn't have panned out. There were just too many complex features to be implemented (for example, generics) in a single release.

>These days, large apps are written in JS, even by hand. GWT is not growing much from what I can tell, compared to its salad days. Closure is used the most within Google, and Dart has yet to replace Google's use of GWT + Closure. I myself write large scale JS apps with GWT. It's really painful but if it was written in plain JavaScript it would have been much worse (I think it event would have been impossible to write and debug code which I write). GWT has its disadvantages: compilation time is very slow, I don't have access to many APIs (mainly reflection and dynamic code loading), devmode for all browsers but Firefox is awfully slow. But despite its disadvantages, it's the best tool for my job (I debug most of the code in JVM, by abstracting away access to DOM).

Both Mozilla and Google agree on goodness of LLVM, since both PNaCl, and asm.js toolchain are based on it. Google has solved the problem of efficiently representing LLVM in a platform independent way and safely executing it in a sandboxed environment. Why not create a PNaCl and LLVM based standard to allow, efficient execution of code? Is it so difficult?

Mozilla promotes asm.js as a "standard compliant" way to do the same thing as PNaCl. However, there are a lot of disadvantages in this approach: asm.js is text based and very verbose, binary format will save a lot of traffic; asm.js doesn't provide access to SIMD and multi-threading which are crucial for good performance; asm.js won't work out of the box, it requiress some effort to support on the side of browser vendors, for example, the only browser where Unreal demo initially worked was Firefox nightly build. Is it so hard to find a consensus among browser vendors (or at least Mozilla and Google) in this respect?

What a formatting mess -- I hope you can you still edit your post and put two newlines after the >-cited lines from my post, and the text where you start replying? Thanks.

If I can read through the mess, you seem to be saying you can't evaluate PNaCl, so you'll just make airy and overconfident assertions about it. Even on HN, that doesn't fly. -1!

When I challenge your further assertion that something is "easily integrated into any browser", you switch subjects to arguing for prototyping and developing a complex system before standardizing it. Good idea (but beware the difficulty standardizing it late if simpler evolutionary hops beat it in the meanwhile; more below on this). However true, that is a dodge, it does not excuse your assertion about "easily integrated".

Doubling down by citing "the DOM" as if Pepper were only about OS and DOM APIs, or as if even just the DOM implementations in different engines had enough in common to make interfacing from native code (not from JS, which is hard enough even with a decade+ history of written standards and market-driven interop testing) easy, just repeats this bad pattern. So -2.

Then you seem to confuse ES4 with Harmony (which I made clear came about after ES4 failed). -3.

At this point on USENET, you'd hear a plonk. But I'll close with one more point:

Mozilla and Google using LLVM does not equate to standardizing PNaCl. Pepper is one problem, a big one, but not the only one. Consider also the folly of using a linker-oriented intermediate representation for a shelf-stable Web-scale object file format. See Dan Gohman's "LLVM IR is a compiler IR" post:


Shortest-path evolution usually wins on the Web. Trying to standardize PNaCl -- including Pepper and LLVM IR abused or patched into shape as a long-lived object file format -- is an impossibly long, almost exclusively Google-dependent, path.

Extending JS among competing engines whose owners cooperate in Ecma TC39, via a series of much shorter and independently vetted and well-justified (by all those engine owners) path-steps? That is happening in front of your eyes.

You may not like it. You may want to say "Go home, evolution, you are drunk":


But it would be foolish to bet against evolution.


>What a formatting mess -- I hope you can you still edit your post and put two newlines after the >-cited lines from my post, and the text where you start replying? Thanks.

Sorry, for the bad formatting, when I understood that it's broken I wasn't able to edit it.

>At this point on USENET, you'd hear a plonk. But I'll close with one more point:

I didn't want to argue with you, I just described how it looked to me (and I mentioned it in the previous comments). I just have no expertise here and now see that there're problems which aren't mentioned by googlers in their presentations. May be you are right, may be they are right. I am sorry if I offended you.

>Shortest-path evolution usually wins on the Web. Trying to standardize PNaCl -- including Pepper and LLVM IR abused or patched into shape as a long-lived object file format -- is an impossibly long, almost exclusively Google-dependent, path.

Yes, it is. I have no choice other than to use JavaScript in one form or another. However, I would love to be able to use a beautiful modern and well thought language on the client instead of rusty JavaScript (or Dart or GWT). I like the Mozilla Rust, but it is a system programming language. I'd love to see something of similar spirit but oriented towards client. Unfortunately, it will take too much time until it happens.

Not looking to argue, just add some value: you say "too much time until it happens" and I've heard that before, many times -- most recently re: Dart (see that Channel 9 Lars&Anders interview).

Funny thing, it has been years since Dart started, ditto PNaCl. Who says JS is the slow path? I suspect it will get there faster (for tangible definitions of "there", e.g., a Rust2JS compiler for you) with well-focused work.


> Rust2JS

Pretty please! Excited to see pcwalton's zero.rs work, which I understand to be a prerequisite for a Rust2JS. But deeper JS integration than emscripten currently provides (e.g., mapping rust structs to harmony binary data StructTypes?) would be even more awesome. When are you going to land 749786, anyway?

Re: Dart and PNaCl--they've been useful for providing political cover to people who want to evolve JS more aggressively.

Heh, I really do need to land int64/uint64 support. The patch needs tests and some cleanup first. This week may afford some hacking time (finally) instead of just rebasing time.

In theory it shouldn't be necessary to mal-invest in long-odds/single-vendor (and therefore hard to standardize without dominant market power) innovations at high cost, just to drive minimal investment in evolving the web in shorter-odds ways. Especially when the same company is collaborating in TC39 to evolve JS, and owns the V8 engine!

Competitive strategy or just a side effect? I suspect the latter, and even if strategy, it's not cheap. Anyway, we didn't need it as cover to do asm.js. That came from @azakai's work on Emscripten plus Mozilla Research's "make the Web better" agenda and answer the "JavaScript -- is there anything it can't do?" q. with results (negative or positive).


I hate Javascript. Sorry if this offended anyone. I think it was good for its limited use case during the early Web 1.0 - Web 2.0 era.

So therefore I dont like asm.js either. I much prefer LLVM or PNaCI. But that is in an ideal world. In real world i would have to agree asm.js seems the way forward. Even with asm.js being a shortcut, it would still take many years for it to gain enough traction and improvement to be really useful as an universal compiler target. Much like what is currently happening now with JVM. Except almost everyone already has a JS Engine Installed, no need to download a Java Runtime.

That way everyone can really use what ever languages that love or they want. With Everything2js.

I hope the future evolution of Javascript will take performance as a consideration. Such as SIMD etc.

May the day of languages independent web come faster.

Some days, I hate JS too. But hate leads to the dark side. It is what it is. Might as well hate endosymbionts who power our cells for being ugly.

We're all over performance, including SIMD. Multiple approaches but definitely up for the Dart-like direct approach. Talking to John McCutchan of Google about lining up JS on this front so Dart2JS has a complete target.


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