Why WebAssembly is a game changer for the web — and a source of pride for Mozilla and Firefox
With today’s release of Firefox, we are the first browser to support WebAssembly. If you haven’t yet heard of WebAssembly, it’s an emerging standard inspired by our research to enable near-native performance for web applications.
WebAssembly is one of the biggest advances to the Web Platform over the past decade.
To get a quick understanding of WebAssembly, and to get an idea of how some companies are looking at using it, check out this video. You’ll hear from engineers at Mozilla, and partners such as Autodesk, Epic, and Unity.
It’s been a long, winding, and exciting road getting here.
The asm.js sub-language worked impressively well, and we knew the approach could work even better as a first-class web standard. So, using asm.js as a proof of concept, we set out to collaborate with other browser makers to establish such a standard that could run as part of browsers. Together with expert engineers across browser makers, we established consensus on WebAssembly. We expect support for it will soon start shipping in other browsers.
In some ways, WebAssembly changes what it means to be a web developer, as well as the fundamental abilities of the web. With WebAssembly and an accompanying set of tools, programs written in languages like C/C++ can be ported to the web so they run with near-native performance. We expect that, as WebAssembly continues to evolve, you’ll also be able to use it with programming languages often used for mobile apps, like Java, Swift, and C#.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the backstory of WebAssembly, check out this behind-the-scenes look.
WebAssembly is shipping today in Firefox on Windows, MacOS, Linux, and Android. We’re particularly excited about the potential on mobile — do all those apps really need to be native?
If you’d like to try out some applications that use WebAssembly, upgrade to Firefox 52, and check out this demo of Zen Garden by Epic. For your convenience, we’ve embedded a video of the demo below.
If you’re a developer interested in working with WebAssembly, check out WebAssembly documentation on MDN. You might also want to see this series of blog posts by Lin Clark that explain WebAssembly through some cool cartoons.
Here at Mozilla we’re focused on moving the web forward and on making Firefox the best browser, hands down. With WebAssembly shipping today and Project Quantum well underway, we’re more bullish about the web — and about Firefox — than ever.
Special thanks to Ryan Pollock for contributing to this post.