Dart in JavaScript sea

In times when JavaScript was much slower and more terrible than it’s now, I’ve used Dart for a web/canvas app and found it very nice. Dart Editor based on Eclipse RCP worked (surprisingly) well and Dart language provided all language features I expected that time.

Today, in time of ES6, when JS and node.js is quite a synonym for a web development, one might ask: Is there still a place for Google Dart?

I’ve read many articles about this (mainly written in 2015) and it seems that opinions were mostly against Dart. As many developers tend to follow mainstream technologies, challenger must always bring something special.

We have March 2016 now and JavaScript is constantly evolving but still it’s bearing many unfortunate decisions from the past as a historical burden. As ES6 doesn’t look bad, overall language impression is still behind enterprise expectations. JavaScript was, is and probably always will be “the ugly” language. People might get use to it, but the existence of all these CaffeScrpts, TypeScripts and also Dart is the best proof that JavaScript is just a necessary evil.

On the other hand, Dart was nicely designed language since the beginning. So why there is such a low adoption. Let’s try to summarize current state of main advantages JS vs Dart:

JavaScript pros:

  1. Native support in browsers
  2. Native support in browsers
  3. Native support in browsers

Dart pros:

  1. Well-designed language
  2. Performance
  3. API

When I was using Dart, there was a still a living plan and hope to have native language support in major browsers. As my app was subjectively maybe ten times faster in Dartium I was thinking that I’m ready for the future. That’s why I was very surprised that Google decided to leave native support and focus on dart2js.

I always understood that there is a good chance that MS and Mozilla will never implement Dart VM in their browsers but that never bothered me much. If there is just Google supported browser with native Dart, it would be good enough I said to myself. What a surprise they decided to leave it behind. Many Dart users felt betrayed. Here I must join the crowd — that decision was the worst decision that Dart team ever did!

Anyway, people do mistakes and people can still re-consider and fix some of them. These can be fixed. I’m not saying I will not use Dart anymore but now I would need to have extremely strong reason for using it now.

Google doesn’t have the best reputation in terms of maintaining technologies long-term, still Dart can be widely adopted if these two conditions are fulfilled:

  1. Strong promise that there WILL BE a supported Google browser with native Dart after all
  2. A promise that Dart platform will be supported by Google at least next 10 years

These two promises would bring Dart back into the prime league.

I believe Google invested and is still investing a lot to develop and promote Dart and to keep it evolving and so I believe (2) is already true and although it would be nice to hear it officially. But still (1) is a MUST!

To finish this with a positive note, language popularity seems to be slowly increasing, language is nicely evolving and IDE based on Webstorm/Idea also looks very nice.