What’s Next in WebAssembly?
AUSTIN, TEX. — What’s the future of WebAssembly — Wasm, to its friends — the binary instruction format for a stack-based virtual machine that allows developers to build in their favorite programming language and run their code anywhere?
For Matt Butcher, CEO and founder of Fermyon Technologies, the future of Wasm lies in running it outside of the browser and running it inside of everything, from proxy servers to video games.”
And, he added, “the really exciting part is being able to run it in the cloud, as well as a cloud service alongside like virtual machines and containers.”
For this On the Road episode of The New Stack Makers podcast, Butcher was interviewed by Heather Joslyn, features editor of TNS.
With key programming languages like Ruby, Python and C# adding support for WebAssembly’s new capabilities, Wasm is gaining critical mass, Butcher said.
“What we’re talking about now is the realization of the potential that’s been around in WebAssembly for a long time. But as people get excited, and open source projects start to adopt it, then what we’re seeing now is like the beginning of the tidal wave.”
But before widespread adoption can happen, Butcher said, there’s still work to be done in preparing the environment the next wave of Wasm: cloud computing.
Along with other members of the Bytecode Alliance, such as Cosmonic, Fastly, Intel and Red Hat, Fermyon is working to improve the developer experience and environment this year. The next step, he added is to “start to build this first wave of applications that really highlight where it can happen for us.”
The rise of Wasm represents a new era in cloud native technology, Butcher noted. “We love containers. Many of us have been involved in the Kubernetes ecosystem for years and years. I built Helm originally; that’s still, in a way, my baby.
“But also we’re excited because now we’re finding solutions to some problems that we didn’t see get solved in the container ecosystem. And that’s why we talk about it as sort of like the next wave.”
Wasm and a ‘Frictionless’ Dev Experience
Fermyon introduced its “frictionless” WebAssembly platform in June here at The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit North America. The platform, built on technologies including HashiCorp’s Nomad and Consul, enables the writing of microservices and web applications. Fermyon’s open source tool, Spin, helps developers push apps from their local dev environments into their Fermyon platform.
One aspect of Wasm’s future that Butcher highlighted in our Makers discussion is how it can be scalable while also remaining lightweight in terms of the cloud resources it consumes.
“Along with creating this great developer experience in a secure platform, we’re also going to help people save money on their cloud costs, because cloud costs have just kind of ballooned out of control,” he said.
“If we can be really mindful of the resources we use, and help the developer understand what it means to write code that can be nimble, and can be light on resource usage. The real objective is to make it so when they write code, it just happens to have those characteristics.”
For those interested in taking WebAssembly for a spin, Fermyon has created an online game called Finicky Whiskers, intended to show how microservices can be reimagined with Wasm.