Another Example of Why I Question Some of Google’s Technical Decisions

@gnat brought to my attention a Hacker News post by JavaScript creator, Brendan Eich, that tries to unpack the real motivations and possible outcomes of Google’s recently announced in browser programming language, Dart. I’ll admit the day job has been keeping me so busy that while I saw the announcement, I didn’t have time to read through even the high level details. Eich hits on the most salient points in his criticism of Google’s disingenuous move to “fix” what it deems as “unfixable” in JavaScript by claiming to be advancing an open replacement.

We’re in a multi-browser market. Competitors try (some harder than others, pace Alex Russell’s latest blog post) to work together in standards bodies. This does not necessarily mean everything takes too long (Dart didn’t take a month or a year — it has been going longer than that, in secret).


Dart goes the wrong way and is likely to bounce off other browsers. It is therefore anti-open-web in my book. “The end justifies the means” slaves will say “but but but it’ll eventually force things to get better”. Maybe it will, but at high cost. More likely, it won’t, and we’ll have two problems (Dart and JS).

Honestly, I am a little sick of the hubris that accompanies decisions like this. I’ve explained my admiration for Mozilla repeatedly before as an increasingly necessary counterbalance to Google’s now established pattern of eschewing community developed open standards in favor of its own efforts. Chrome instead of Firefox, Web-M instead of Theora, Plus instead of a federated social network approach using ActivityStreams, OStatus, etc.

In the interest of disclosure, and fairness, I collaborate daily with folks at Google. They do much that is needful and even admirable. In this one area, however, I think there needs to be more forcefully and clearly asked questions each succesive time Google charts its own way, often at the expense of the open web community.

Brendan Eich on Hacker News, via @gnat

One Reply to “Another Example of Why I Question Some of Google’s Technical Decisions”

  1. It ends up being like microsoft’s embrace and extend, but (so far) without the extinguish. Or, put another way, a sufficiently large PUBLIC corp cannot “do no evil”.

    Although, to look from the other direction, if it’s completely open and Chrome doesn’t have special undocumented hooks into it – there’s no reason the ohter browsers can’t just join in if Dart turns out to rock more than JS. Sometimes you have to just break clean – you can’t improve what’s already there.

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