What is WebAssembly ?


For a long time now, there has been only one language available that can run natively on a web browser, that is, JavaScript. Java and Flash’s ActionScript are inconvenient because of the lack of third-party binary plug-ins. All other possible web languages are merely compiled to JavaScript.

But now we have a new possibility: WebAssembly, or Wasm for short. This is a low-level and assembly-like language with a compact binary format that runs at near-native performance.

Designed to run alongside JavaScript, it provides languages such as C/C++, C# and Rust with a compilation target. Thus, it provides a way to run code written in multiple languages on the web with client apps running at superfast speeds.

Very importantly, whether you’re enhancing web-based games, embedding real-time video editing into your application, or pushing the boundaries of 3D rendering, Wasm can help provide the  driving force behind these advancements.

In this article we will look at some of the features and details of this exciting language.

Key Features of WebAssembly

Though promising, Wasm is still in its early development phase, with ongoing efforts to refine its toolkit and implementation. Some of its key features of its development are:

Support for Multiple Languages: Wasm is language flexible. That is, developers can write their code in various high-level languages and then compile it in Wasm. This flexibility enables developers to choose the most appropriate language for their specific use case.

Compact Binary Format: The binary format of Wasm is more compact than the equivalent JavaScript code, resulting in faster downloads and reduced latency for web applications. This is especially useful in regions with limited internet connectivity or on devices with limited resources.

Seamless integration with JavaScript: Due to the smooth integration of Wasm with JavaScript, developers are able to combine the strengths of both languages for web development. This mix of interoperability allows developers to use the right language for specific tasks.

Security: While Wasm offers better security than traditional web development, it is not entirely risk-free. This is especially true when running untrusted code in web browsers. Developers should verify the origin of the code, avoid using unsafe APIs, and keep their code and libraries up to date to address potential security vulnerabilities.

Garbage Collection Primitives: WebAssembly doesn’t directly support languages, like Python and Lua that use garbage-collected memory models. Currently the workaround is achieved by restricting certain features or by embedding the entire runtime as a Wasm executable. Efforts are also underway to overcome these limitations.

Threading: Threading refers to the ability of a program to execute multiple tasks concurrently. The absence of threading support in WebAssembly means that whole classes of targeted software can’t be written in languages which have native support like Rust and C++. Currently the proposals are to add threading based on the C++ model.

Bulk Memory Operations and SIMD: Bulk Memory Operations and SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) parallelism help applications grind through piles of data and require native CPU acceleration to prevent choking. Proposals are on the table to add these capabilities to Wasm.

Growing Ecosystem: Wasm is helping companies implement edge computing by using WASI ( WebAssembly System Interface ). It is also entering the cloud space and leveraging its unique features to enhance cloud-native development. Thus a conducive atmosphere for web  development is being created.

Use Cases of WebAssembly

Wasm is introducing new use cases for the web with each passing day. The following examples demonstrate its versatility and potential:

Gaming: Owing to WebAssembly, graphic-intensive games can now run directly on web browsers, instead of requiring dedicated game consoles.

Multimedia Applications: WebAssembly facilitates the creation of browser-based tools that closely mirror their desktop counterparts in terms of functionality and performance. Thus it can carry out complex tasks like video rendering, real-time audio processing, or even 3D modeling  design smoothly within your browser.

Scientific Computing: Computational tasks in fields like biology, physics and engineering can be heavy and demanding. Wasm can handle the computational intensity – making it possible to run even a genetic sequencing algorithm from within the browser.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): Wasm is powering and advancing AR and VR in the realms of virtual shopping experience, interactive education and immersive art for the customer.


Wasm is still a relatively new technology, and its standard remains subject to ongoing development. In the near future the issues of support for garbage collection and access to DOM ( Document Object Model ) are likely to be addressed. These will bolster Wasm’s performance and stability.

The future of WebAssembly holds great potential, and it is expected to evolve into a standout point for web development. As it continues to evolve, the lines between native and web applications might be blurred even further, leading to a truly unified and robust web.

Image Sourced from Net

Leave a Comment