Tuesday, October 22, 2019

State of the Union: Future and Historic Thoughts on WebAssembly, JavaScript, and .NET

With all the goodness happening in the world of WebAssembly it's important to keep an eye on what's happening and how this will positively impact development going forward. In the world of JavaScript there are questions about how the worlds will converge. This maybe in contrast with a portion of the .NET community, which seems at times they don't want it to converge; they want JS dev to be thrown out with the garbage as evidence by the sly remarks toward our community over the years (which as a JS dev I've digested kindly). This sentiment is also supported via the primary description of Blazor:

Blazor lets you build interactive web UIs using C# instead of JavaScript

Although that picture gets clearer as I realize their baby (web in .NET) was called ugly for the last decade so they are salivating for Blazor to feel at home again on the web. (zing!) OK back on track and in all seriousness, Blazor is a rich platform to build modern apps using C#, and I do fully appreciate the excitement of being able to run the same code on the client and server. This is a significant strength in addition to several other bullet points about the stack. 

BTW, I qualify to make these remarks as I've been both a .NET developer and a JavaScript developer, so I've been on both sides of the fence for extended periods of time. Just look at the header image on this blog; it's a legacy Visual Studio logo representing the numerous years I've spent as a .NET developer.

History will show though without JS, the development community as a whole I don't think would be near where they are today and still creating per-platform apps like 15 years ago. The ability to write-once and deploy platform agnostic for the last 10 years is unparalleled until recent advancements. It's historic significance can't be ignored. 

Also there is no hidden agenda here to resist change or remain some kind of isolated JS developer wearing blinders. I'm not that dogmatic in my career path as I've typically moved along with change remaining modern to where mainstream development has gone, and not tried to hang on to a stack out of stubbornness. I'll adopt change as the community does, and always excited about the advancements of the future.

The reality is there is too much momentum in JavaScript development for companies/customers/clients to pump the brakes and change everything. This process is always an evolution. There is also the fact that not all development is greenfield, so the question arises about how to have the best of both worlds (JS and WASM)? 

Being pragmatic and assessing the current landscape, I think the real step forward for folks not purely on a single stack like C#/.NET, or any narrow/single stack for that matter will be a hybrid one (by definition hybrid); at least in the beginning. This is even suggested straight from the horse's mouth: https://webassembly.org/docs/faq/

I feel like bullet points 2 and 3 above will emerge in the 1st 3-5 years as a prevalent way of developing modern web apps. A hybrid approach that uses both JavaScript and compiled WASM modules referenced within to produce performant and modern web applications. The language used to create and target a WASM module will be dependent on the team's experience. 

Here are some interesting examples that do just this:



It's important to continually modernize our stack and remain fluid with the direction the community guides us. WebAssembly plays an important role in the future of all types of development. What are your thoughts on how this will evolve?