Monday, January 19, 2015

Fluent Talk Summary: Brendan Eich, "JavaScript: the High and Low Roads"

In this lighthearted talk, Brendan Eich (inventor of JavaScript) discusses high and low-level improvements in upcoming versions of JavaScript. Acknowledging that Web development is hard ("like having a chain-saw in place of a hand"), Eich says the upcoming version of JavaScript, ES6 "Harmony", will address many difficulties facing web developers, with improvements like a built-in module system, observable objects, and many other features that will make "transpilers" and other "syntactic sugar" libraries unnecessary.

The future ES7 version of JavaScript aims to bring many low-level improvements for high-performance and scientific computing, including new value objects, operator overloading, and SIMD intrinsics. New value objects proposed in ES7 include: int64, uint64, int32x4 and int32x8 (SIMD), float32 (useful for GPUs), float32x4 and float32x8 (SIMD), bignum, decimal, rational, and complex. ES7 will also introduce operator overloading and new literals like 0L (int64), 0UL (uint64), etc. Support for SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data) will lead to native performance for applications like game programming and signal processing. To demonstrate further, Eich reveals the first-ever public demo of the Unreal Engine 4 from Epic Games, showing stunning 3D graphics running at a full 60 frames per second, with no plugins, in a Firefox build with special SIMD capabilities.

Guided by the Extensible Web Manifesto, the high road of developer-friendly features and the low road of safe, low-level language improvements will converge in a virtual machine that offers native performance while being very developer friendly.

In a nutshell - "Always bet on JS!"

My rating: 4/5. Informative, insightful and entertaining for programmers.

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