What is the WebAssembly Virtual Machine & Why should you use it?
Key Takeaway — WebAssembly is a game-changing technology. It allows developers to build applications for the web that can run at near-native speeds. It combines highly optimized code with very small binaries that enables large applications to run very fast and smoothly via the web. This improved speed and efficiency, combined with the possibility of user interaction without download or installation processes is why WebAssembly is being called “the future of the web”.
Imagine a world where you can build software with any programming language and deliver that software to the end user directly in a web browser, without any installation and with near native performance. This development utopia, that once seemed unimaginable, recently became a reality with the introduction of WebAssembly (Wasm for short).
This means for example, that developers can bring their native applications to the web and achieve full performance with the apps’ full set of capabilities — that they’d typically have when running native on Windows or Mac — in a web browser. The developers won’t actually have to write the Wasm code directly either. Instead, they’d use Wasm as a compilation target for programs written in other languages. For example, a developer can build a game with Unity and C# and compile it into Wasm where it can be delivered directly in a web browser.
This is revolutionary because users can now simply go to web pages to interact with applications, instead of going through download and installation processes — which can sometimes pose security risks. However, what makes Wasm so impressive is that you can achieve near-native performance, with portability across all platforms using a browser, which is a huge engineering advantage.
What problem is Wasm trying to solve?
Wasm should give significant speed increases in two main areas. First, it should significantly increase application start up speed. In fact, applications that are already using Wasm have been able to cut application start up time in half, and as more optimizations are made, it will only continue to increase startup speed further. This will allow huge applications to load up very, very quickly. Secondly, Wasm enables significant benefits in throughput too, which means that once code is compiled, it will run much faster — making applications more efficient and responsive which will significantly improve user experience.
What are the main benefits of WebAssembly Virtual Machine?
- Wasm is extremely fast, efficient and portable. Code can be executed at near-native speed across different platforms.
- It’s also very secure as it’s run in a safe, sandboxed environment and like other web code, it will enforce the browsers same-origin and permissionless security policies.
WebAssembly is a virtual machine that runs in modern web browsers that provides new features and significant improvements in performance. It provides a way to run code written in multiple programming languages on the web at near native speed. This wasn’t previously possible.
Wasm has only been around for a few years, but it’s already in all modern web browsers — whether we’re aware of it or not. The characteristics that have long been considered the holy grail of computing — small size, portability, security and performance — are all things that we get with the WebAssembly.