Google’s Dart Language Is Now An Official ECMA Standard

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Google’s Dart language is now an official ECMA standard with the catchy name of ECMA-408ECMA may not be a household name, but if you’re reading this, your browser is using ECMAscript to render at least some parts of this page. That’s because ECMAscript is the official standard body behind JavaScript. In the past, the organization has also been behind the specs for JSON, C#, the Office Open XML format and various CD-ROM specs.

Since the Dart team, which is led by Lars Bak (the Danish programmer who also worked on the V8 JavaScript engine, not the bicycle racer), decided that the language was stable enough for a 1.0 release last year, he and his team have been working on the standardization process with ECMA. A few days ago, ECMA formally approved the Dart language specs, which are based on Dart 1.3, the team shared on Google+ today.

While this may seem like a minor development for a relatively new language, standardizing Dart could help the team create a more active ecosystem around the language. With the specs stabilized, it’s also now easier for others to implement Dart now that it isn’t as much of a moving target.

While the Dart team considers its language general purpose, its strengths are clearly in writing web apps. Right now, however, not even Google’s own Chrome supports Dart by default. Instead, developers have to resort to either using a special build of Chrome that includes the Dart virtual machine, or they have to compile their code to JavaScript (though when I talked to Bak, he gave me the impression that Google could start supporting Dart directly in Chrome soon). Maybe now that it has become standardized, other browser vendors — and more developers — will take a second look at Dart.

Even though ECMA has now ratified the 1.0 standard, though, the team isn’t standing still. As Bak told me when I talked to him at Google I/O last month, support for enums and deferred loading, as well as at least some basic support for async, are on the group’s roadmap and could become part of the next revision of the Dart spec by the end of the year.

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