What Exactly is WebAssembly? Exploring its Definition and Role in Modern Computing
What is WebAssembly? Definition of Wasm
WebAssembly is a low-level virtual machine that executes code at near-native speed by providing a compact binary format. Designed as a portable target for the compilation of high-level languages like C, C++, and Rust, it enables deployment on the web for client and server applications.
ℹ️ Synonyms: WA, wasm, WebAsm, WebAssemble, WebAssembling
How it Works
1. High-level languages (e.g., C, C++, or Rust) are compiled into WebAssembly binaries.
2. The browser turns these binaries into a lower-level Abstract Syntax Tree (AST) and validates the code for security purposes.
3. The browser turns the validated code into machine code and optimizes it for the specific hardware.
4. The optimized code is executed at near-native performance.
Benefits of using WebAssembly
- Performance: WebAssembly offers near-native performance due to its compact binary format and efficient execution.
- Portability: It serves as the compilation target for numerous languages and platforms, making it easier to deploy code across various systems.
- Security: WebAssembly is designed with security in mind. It operates in a sandboxed environment and undergoes validation checks before execution.
WebAssembly use cases
Games and multimedia
WebAssembly enables high-performance gaming and multimedia applications on the web by providing near-native speed and 3D graphics support.
Scientific simulations and data processing
High-level programming languages used for scientific simulations (e.g., C, C++, or Rust) can be compiled to WebAssembly to enable faster, more efficient web-based simulations.
With the help of WebAssembly System Interface (WASI), WebAssembly can run server-side applications outside web browsers, broadening its use cases across various platforms.
Most recommended books about WebAssembly
- WebAssembly in Action by Gerard Gallant
- Programming WebAssembly with Rust by Kevin Hoffman
- Learning WebAssembly by Rick Battagline
- WebAssembly Reference Manual by Pavel Panchekha and Cody Brocious
- Advanced WebAssembly by Dan Olsen