In short, WebAssembly is the newest web language, brought to the world by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
In other words, WebAssembly is a modern and safe way of enabling high-performance applications on the web when using Open Web Platform technologies. It provides a smart way to run code written in various languages on the web at near-native speed.
This article will offer a quick look at the benefits of WebAssembly and how you can learn it.
What Are the Benefits of WebAssembly?
The purpose of WebAssembly is to provide a virtual instruction set architecture that allows high-performance applications. High-performance applications that can use WebAssembly include things like video, audio codecs, graphics, 3D, multi-media, games, cryptographic computations, and portable language implementations.
The main benefits of WebAssembly are as follows:
- Fast and efficient. WebAssembly is encoded in a binary format that executes at near-native speed on a wide range of platforms.
- Possible to debug. WebAssembly is printed in textual format, making debugging, testing, optimizing, learning, teaching, and writing programs by hand possible.
- Open. WebAssembly is part of the open web platform, and also supports non-web embeddings.
- Enhances web performance. WebAssembly enables near-native performance, optimized load time, improved streaming capabilities, and a compilation target for existing code bases. Additionally, a web page can execute and code can download simultaneously.
- Hardware, language, and platform-independent. WebAssembly works with all modern architectures, devices, and embedded systems, and doesn’t favor one language, programming model, or object model over another. Additionally, it can be implemented on browsers, stand-alone systems, and in other environments.
- Compact. WebAssembly has a binary format. This format is fast to transmit because it is much smaller than typical text or native code formats.
These are the main benefits, but the list of reasons why you would want to use WebAssembly is robust. For a more comprehensive look into all the advantages of WebAssembly, check out the WebAssembly Core Specification document.
How Do You Learn WebAssembly?
When it comes to learning WebAssembly, there are a few typical prerequisites—no matter what your learning preferences are.
Another helpful prerequisite is to have experience with C/C++. If you don’t have this experience, it’s typically not too much of a problem as many training courses will teach you this in addition to learning WebAssembly.
One of the best ways to learn WebAssembly is to take an online coding course from one of the many online learning platforms like Udemy. There is also plenty of free supplemental material on YouTube and guides from popular developer websites like Mozilla.
Let’s take a deeper look at both options.
What to look for when taking a paid WebAssembly course
You’ll also want to find a course that provides an organized and detailed look into how WebAssembly works. This includes how WebAssembly allows you, essentially, to do more with less, or how it enables high-level applications on a low-level infrastructure.
Finally, find a course that helps you create WebAssembly modules from scratch, teaches you the latest web development technology, and that matches your current developer proficiency level.
Remember, when you pay for a course, you shouldn’t have to do any of the hard work yourself. The course should take you from step one to being proficient in WebAssembly in an organized fashion.
What are some good free resources for learning WebAssembly?
If you would rather save the money and teach yourself via developer websites, it’s important to remember that you will have to do additional work to find the most relevant information and sort the information yourself.
To help you get started, here is a quick list of helpful resources:
- W3. What better place to learn WebAssembly than to look to the organization that created it? W3 provides a core specification document with loads of valuable information. You’ll glean insight into the design goals, scope, security considerations, structure, validation, execution, numerics, binary format, text format, and more. Thankfully, this manual is free and well-organized.
There are several other free online training resources, but these three options will give you an excellent place to start.
Looking to the Future
The introduction of WebAssembly is an exciting new addition to the web and an excellent way to help developers do more with less.
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Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.