Google Postpones Plans to Integrate Dart into Chrome

In a polyglot world, the stakes for any language to be successful are getting higher by the day. Google’s Dart programming language was positioned and championed by many as a successor to JavaScript, the de facto language of the Web. The going has not been easy, and with the recent 1.9 release of Dart also comes news that Dart will no longer be made to run natively inside the Chrome browser.

First up was the news from Dart language co-founders Lars Bak and Kasper Lund that there will be no further effort to make Dart run natively inside Google Chrome. For Dart supporters, native Chrome support was often touted as the tipping point not just for widespread adoption that would make developers take notice but also as a way to convince other vendors that they should look at supporting Dart inside their browsers. That would likely be a tough sell, and with the official announcement, it is confirmed that that path has been closed for now. The focus moving forward will be to compile Dart to JavaScript to enable better JavaScript integration and allow developers to use tools and libraries that they are familiar with.

This does not mean that Dart as a language is being abandoned. Support within Google for Dart is strong, as the blog post indicates. Google Ads is the biggest customer for Dart. Google Fiber, Google Express and internal sales teams are running mission-critical apps on Dart. Dart still is a great option to have common code on both client and server sides, and the engineering team will be focused on enhancing the virtual machine and tools with a clear focus on the Web.

In related news, the Dart 1.9 release has brought a series of features that position it strongly on the server side. The release features strong support for asynchronous programming along with an updated regular expression engine (150x faster), Isolate API, full enumeration support and more. Check out the full release notes.

The future of Dart will definitely be a topic of discussion at the upcoming Dart Developer Summit, to be held on April 28-29 in San Francisco. There is no doubt that Dart is a nice language with developer productivity, clean syntax and code sharing among its many goals, but getting developer traction outside of Google has been a challenge. This year is going to be a defining one in its journey.

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