Dart has reached its version 1.0 target. Google may not care for version numbers but this illustrates to the world that Dart is ready. Whether we are is a different matter.
I was particularly scathing about Dart when it was announced in 2011. My main issues:
- Why create another language when plenty of more familiar options are already available?
- Why produce a closed platform which is certain to be rejected by the W3C and other browser vendors?
The updated dartlang.org site now offers a range of free tools including an Eclipse-based IDE, plug-ins for other editors, the dart2js compiler, the Dartium browser, a full SDK, package manager and API documentation.
What’s not to like?
I’ll tell you: Dart will join the long list of scrapped Google projects. They’ve been patient but, if Dart was to succeed, it would have already done so. Let’s add some more points to the list of criticisms:
Dart is not supported in Chrome
You can’t use Dart in Google’s own browser. Dartium is Chromium with the Dart VM — so there shouldn’t be any technical issues preventing its addition to Chrome and perhaps other Blink-based browsers such as Opera. So why isn’t it there?
No other vendor wants Dart
Dart has been openly denounced by Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla. Google could create VM plug-ins for those browsers but, assuming vendors didn’t actively block it, widespread distribution would be difficult.
dart2js browser support is limited
Difficult client-side debugging
Debugging dart2js applications in a browser requires source maps to trace errors back to the original Dart code. You can do that in Chrome, but you’ll have trouble in most other browsers — especially on mobile.
Perhaps you use Dart. Perhaps you love the language. Does it worry you that Google has abandoned projects which were far more commercially successful?
At best, they’re giving mixed messages. At worst, they don’t believe Dart has a strong future for client-side development.
Why Dart was Devised
I have nothing against innovation and Dart may become a successful server-side development language. Unfortunately, Dart isn’t particularly innovative and, in the browser, it’s a solution looking for a problem.
Do you think Dart can succeed?
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.
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