Google trumpets Dart release as first stable version

Google Dart
(—Google on Tuesday released its first stable version of Dart SDK. Dart is a programming language for Web applications that Google thinks will offer an improved, easy to learn, high performance environment for web developers. A year ago, Google unveiled Dart and the news outside Google was largely seen as Google's rival to JavaScript. The assumption was that Google was out to fix what's wrong with that powerful lingua franca of the Web. Google however carefully said at the time that Dart was not intended to be "another JavaScript" per se but rather a way to address a fragmented mobile platform environment.

Tuesday's announcement is about an enhanced, first developer-oriented version of the Dart SDK, which is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

"Today, after plowing through thousands of bug reports and feature requests from the web community, a new, more stable and comprehensive version of Dart is now available and ready to use," said the announcement on Tuesday's The Chromium Blog. The Dart team's Lars Bak, a , said Dart aims to create a structured yet flexible language for and aims to make Dart feel familiar and natural to programmers.

Dart team members are summing up the point of working on Dart and achieving this stage of an October 2012 release in saying simply that "Dart is all about productivity." They said can appreciate working with a more scalable language such as Dart.

According to the Dart team, this new version of the SDK offers a faster that can even outperform 's V8 JavaScript engine on some benchmarks, Richards and DeltaBlue, though they add that they are not yet able to say it is faster on every benchmark. They do say they aim to exceed expectations of developers who want a scalable and structured approach.

Dart is a class-based, object-oriented language with lexical scoping, closures, and optional static typing, for writing complex web apps. The new version includes Google's open source Dart Editor and "Dartium," a build with native Dart support.

Google is not replacing JavaScript but instead is providing tools to compile finished code to JavaScript. Developers can use a Dart to JavaScript translator which is part of the SDK to generate code for any browser. According to Google, "Dart can be compiled to JavaScript, so you can use it for in all modern desktop and mobile browsers. Our JavaScript compiler generates minimal code thanks to tree-shaking." Improvements also include Pub, a new package manager and a language specification describing the Dart semantics.

Developers can download the Dart Editor from along with a copy of the open-source SDK and Dartium.

At what point Dart will gain traction is unclear. On an impressive note, the Dart programming language for the first time made a monthly Top 50 list of the most popular programming languages. On a sobering note, just barely. Dart came in as number 43.

The TIOBE Programming Community Index is an indicator of the popularity of programming languages and the index is updated once a month. C was number one. Java was number two. JavaScript was number 11. JavaScript was number 10 the same time last year but it lost its number 10 position to Ruby.

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User comments

Oct 17, 2012
YAC. But, hey, they can only get better, and this one looks pretty good. I like NetBeans, and expect a DART plugin for it sooner than later (one already exists for IntelliJ). I've always had the idea that the Interface is somewhat superfluous, and could have been made transparent. Coding simplified eh, what? Someday I'll drag myself away from things to take a closer look. Can't stop progress.

Oct 17, 2012
My interest is perked... I'll give it a go and see what happens!! I always like a new approach. It waits to be seen if it's worth the trouble in the real world though. So I'm reticent, reticent I say.

Oct 18, 2012
It's only a 0.1 release, and bound to have some bugs, so I choose to sit it out until the jury is in. My reading indicate that their is some practical simplification of the Java coding in the DART language, which should make for a shorter learning curve over that of straight Java. That is a welcome improvement.

Oct 19, 2012
Does anyone else think that adding all of these new languages with the intent to simplify programming by making minor changes to an already existing language only serves to make the field as a whole more complicated? I work as a software and firmware engineer and I write in ASM/C/CPP/Java/VB/C# as the situation demands... but the one thing I notice is how similar most of them are. I question the need for all of these alternatives. It's to the point where if I see some obscure language requirement in a job description I just say that I know it because it's likely so similar to another language that I do know that I can learn to use it in a night or two, but for new programmers it's daunting to pick which language to learn first, and this is often the topic of forum threads with no clear answer.

I advise newbies to learn processor architecture followed by machine language and native assembly for their platform then moving on to C, for the record... trial by fire as it were.

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