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Google's Dart language arrives in Chrome test version

A technology preview version of Google's browser lets programmers try Dart, an attempt by Google to improve on JavaScript's shortcomings that irritates browser rivals.

Google Dart logo

Google has released a test version of its browser with the ability to run programs written in Dart, the company's language designed to improve on JavaScript.

"This release of Chromium with Dart VM integration is a technology preview, and should not be used for day-to-day browsing. After more testing and developer feedback, we plan to eventually include the Dart VM in Chrome," said Google programmers Anton Muhin, Vijay Menon, and Pavel Podivilov, in a blog post yesterday.

Google developed Dart as a way to improve Web programming, for example with better performance and with a language it thinks is better suited to large-scale Web applications. But Dart has met with a frosty response from browser rivals including Microsoft who'd rather see improvements to JavaScript and avoid the prospect of another language Balkanizing Web programming. Google's approach to building Dart in-house before running it past fellow members of Web standards also raised hackles.

The Dart support is in test version of Chromium, the open-source foundation for most of what's in Chrome itself. It's a separate version, though, not released on the main distribution channels for Google's browser. It's available only for Mac OS X and Linux now, with a Windows version "coming soon."

Google took pains to make it clear that Dart development won't cease its JavaScript work. And to ease the programming fragmentation issue, it's touting a compiler designed to help Web programmers translate their Dart code into JavaScript for browsers that don't have Dart support.

"Dart has been designed from the start to work with the entire modern Web, and we're simultaneously continuing to improve our fast Dart-to-JavaScript compiler. Both the Dart VM [virtual machine] and modern JavaScript engines are first-class targets for Dart," the Google programmers said.