WebAssembly, or wasm, is the most significant new technology to come to the web platform in a decade. Technically speaking, it is a new, low-level, assembly-like language that runs efficiently on the existing web platform and is backward-compatible with its precursor, asm.js. Most people, however, will use the wasm format as a compiler target, translating their applications into web-ready modules that can run in modern web browsers at near-native speeds.
How does it work?
Why does it matter?
What does it replace or change?
- The wasm format removes the need for browser plug-ins to support online gaming.
- It allows programmers to put large C/C++ applications on the web without rewriting them.
Is it a standard?
WebAssembly is an emerging standard, with ongoing work on the specification. The browser vendors have reached consensus on the design of the initial wasm API and binary format, and there is an active W3C Community Group with members from Mozilla, Microsoft, Google and Apple.
Which products support it?
Firefox and Chrome browsers currently support the wasm format on Linux, MacOS, Windows and Android. The latest versions of Edge and Safari now include WebAssembly support as well. Autodesk plans to support wasm and WebGL 2 in its Stingray v1.8 game engine. Other game engines and projects like the Rust language are adding experimental support.