WebAssembly - Overview


WebAssembly is a new computer programming language for the web. WebAssembly code is a low level binary format, that is compatible with the web and can easily run in modern web browsers. The file size generated is small and it loads and executes faster. You can now compile languages like C, C++, Rust, etc. to binary format and it can run on the web just like javascript.

Definition of WebAssembly

As per the official website of WebAssembly, which is available at https://webassembly.org/, it is defined as WebAssembly (abbreviated as Wasm) is a binary instruction format for a stack-based virtual machine. Wasm is designed as a portable target for compilation of high-level languages like C/C++/Rust, enabling deployment on the web for client and server applications.

Web Assembly is not something that a developer will have to write, but the code is written in languages like C, C++, Rust and can be compiled to WebAssembly (wasm). The same code can be run inside the web browsers.

Web Assembly is a new language, the code is low-level assembly language, but with its text format feature, the code is readable and debugging is possible, if necessary.

Goals of WebAssembly

The open standards for WebAssembly are developed in a W3C Community Group that includes representatives from all major browsers as well as a W3C Working Group.

The main goals of WebAssembly are mentioned below −

  • Faster, Efficient and Portable − WebAssembly code is meant to run faster on different platforms taking advantage of the hardware available.

  • Easy to read and debug − WebAssembly, being a low level assembly language, has text format support, that allows you to debug the code for any issues and also to rewrite the code, if necessary.

  • Security − WebAssembly is safe to run on the web browsers, as it takes care of permissions and same-origin policies.

Advantages of WebAssembly

The following are the advantages of WebAssembly −

  • Run is Modern Browsers − WebAssembly is able to execute without any issues on the modern web browsers which are available.

  • Multiple Language support − Languages like C, C++, Rust, Go can now compile the code to WebAssembly and run the same in web browsers. So, the languages which were not able to run in a browser will now be able to do so.

  • Faster, Efficient and Portable − Due to the small size of the code, it loads and executes faster.

  • Easy to understand − Developers don’t have to do much stress in understanding WebAssembly coding, as they don’t have to write the code in WebAssembly. Instead compile the code in WebAssembly and execute the same on the web.

  • Easy to Debug − Though the final code is in low level assembly language, you can also get it in text format, that is easy to read and debug.

Disadvantages of WebAssembly

The following are the disadvantages of WebAssembly −

  • WebAssembly is still being worked on and it is too early to decide the future of it.

  • WebAssembly is dependent on javascript to interact with the Document Object Model (DOM).