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author

Thomas Wilfred

Front-end Mobile Engineer

We will compare two of the most competing programming languages in cross-platform mobile application development-Dart Vs JavaScript, to find out their pros, cons and specialty features.

JavaScript and Dart, both are great choices for cross-platform mobile apps development as is evident in React Native and Flutter respectively. Dart is fairly new in comparison with JavaScript, but it has some incredible useful features and great support from Google.

Presently, it is very difficult to choose one best out of the two, but at the moment it is great going for Dart as it has taken off very strongly.

Let’s understand them separately, before checking Dart Vs JavaScript in detail:

Dart

Dart

Dart started its journey in 2011, but was not much popular until Google gave it a stable release in 2017. Dart was initially used internally at Google to build web and mobile applications. Dart compiles the source code similar to JavaScript, but the standalone Dart SDK is shipped with a Dart VM and it has its own package manager called pub.

After Google announced Flutter beta for cross-platform mobile app development in 2017, Dart’s popularity is continuously on the rise. Developers having previous experience with OOPs (Object-oriented programming), can easily pick up Dart but other mobile developers have to learn its concepts to get started with it.

Dart is a fairly new language for most of the developers outside of Google. Although, Google has put a lot of effort into documenting the Dart programming language, it’s still hard for developers to find solutions for specific problems. In terms of coding style and syntax, it has Java-like syntax, so developers from OOPS background can master and use Dart easily once they learn the basics. There is a comparatively small community and some online groups for Dart and Flutter.

While writing the Dart code, it always compile the code both in ahead od time(AOT) and just in time (JIT). That means, as you are writing the code, Dart is simultaneously compiling and executing it in the background and you get real time results. No more waiting to compile!

As a solid alternate for JavaScript, Dart has almost all the flexibilities and ease of use which JavaScript offers. In one of the JAXenter poll last year, Dart won the highest votes for most loved languages. There are many cool features of Dart which makes it an absolute favourite, programmer-friendly language to learn.

Main features of Dart:

  • Fully object-oriented:- Just like JavaScript, this one also relies on objects and if you love OOPs concepts, then you will enjoy developing with Dart. Additionally, it provides support for interfaces, mixins, abstract classes and static typing.
  • Easy to learn:- Dart has a easy to understand syntax and will remind you of C and JavaScript. You just need to learn a few of its concepts thoroughly to build your first project on Dart as it has a shorter learning curve.
  • Portability:- Dart can easily work in any operating system, there is no such specific hardware configuration or architecture requirement to run this language. A pure Dart written applications can smoothly run in most of the major mobile operating systems and the web applications will run in any browser.
  • Great productivity:- A good programming language is that which can complete mammoth amount of difficult tasks in a shorter span of time with supreme ease of efforts, and this is where Dart excels from most of the other languages. From its syntax to behind-the-scenes work scenario, everything is perfectly suitable to increase developer’s productivity. Also, if you encounter something that the language is not capable to handle on its own, then it has a large collection of libraries and packages on its official platform.
  • One language, many platforms:- Dart can single-handedly manage many platforms like mobile apps, web apps, a desktop app, scripting task and server-side/ client-side work. Of course, you write once and it will be executed on different platforms with ease.

Tools that Integrate with Dart-

  • Flutter-The cross-platform mobile UI framework by Google.
  • Aqueduct– Multi-threaded server-side framework.
  • Dart Webdev– A framework to build web apps with Google’s services integration.
  • Angular Dart– Another popular alternative to Dart Webdev.

Companies using Dart:

  • Google
  • Blossom
  • Adobe
  • Health Dynamics
  • Soundtrap

Javascript

JavaScript

JavaScript became the most loved popular language when Facebook launched the React & the React Native frameworks for web and mobile application development. JavaScript being dynamic in nature doesn’t require compilation of the code at the client-side and it has its own package managers like NPM.

JavaScript supports both OOPS and functional programming and it is the most preferred technology amongst professional as well as regular developers.

JavaScript has been around longer in the industry and is a mature and stable language. JavaScript is very easy to use and has numerous frameworks and libraries available online, so developers can use the existing code for developing apps faster. However, in order to learn the JavaScript syntax, we need to have a basic technical knowledge of programming in general.

As there is a need for developers to share and distribute code, there are thousands of JS packages available online. With the use of an existing package and experience of the developers, it’s easy for new developers to learn and adopt the JavaScript programming language.

JavaScript has countless libraries and frameworks available but not all of them are equally good. Also, new JavaScript frameworks are released after a regular interval, so the developers constantly need to learn new frameworks, which hinders their productivity.

If you thought JavaScript is about game, desktop, mobile and web app development, you are wrong here. This language goes all the way from IoT to Machine Learning and back to Robotics. You can train machine models in the browser using TensorFlow JS and use the Cyclon JS framework to change the lighting color of Philips Hue.

Javascript is highly popular as client side scripting language for web browsers. In any web application, javascript can be used to implement simple features like rollover of images as well as to make asynchronous requests to server using ajax.

Main features of JavaScript:

  • Browser Support:- All browsers accept JavaScript as a scripting language and provides integrated support.
  • Functional Programming Language:- In Javascript, function could be assigned to variables just like any other data types. Not only that, but a function can accept another function as a parameter and can also return a function and can have functions with no name as well.
  • Can be used on both client and server-side:- JavaScript has access to Document object model(DOM) of browser, where you can change the structure of web pages at runtime. Due to this, javascript can be used to add different effects to webpages. Also, javascript could be used on the server-side as well.
  • Object-oriented Programming:- Javascript is an object-oriented language, the way javascript handles objects and inheritance is bit different from conventional object-oriented programming languages like Java. Due to this, javascript supports most of the object-oriented concepts while being simple to learn and use.

Tools that integrate with JavaScript-

  • Auth0-A token-based sign-up tool for your apps or APIs.
  • Yarn-A package manager and a good alternative to NPM.
  • Gatsby JS– An open-source framework to build websites or apps with React JS at a faster rate.
  • Parcel– A fast web application bundler.
  • ESLint-A popular JavaScript linter.
  • Azure Cosmos DB– Microsoft’s globally distributed database service.
  • Algolia– An API for building search results.
  • Lodash– A library which provides utility functions for common programming tasks.
  • CircleCI– A popular continuous integration and delivery platform.
  • Jetpack– It wraps webpack to create a smoother developer experience.

Companies using JavaScript:

  • Instagram
  • 9GAG
  • Square
  • Airbnb
  • Reddit

Dart Vs JavaScript

Dart Vs JavaScript

CategoryDartJavaScript
Ease of UseIn terms of coding style and syntax, it has Java-like syntax, so developers from OOPS background can use Dart easily. JavaScript is a mature, easy to use, stable language with numerous frameworks and libraries easily available online.
ProductivityThere is a comparatively smaller community and some online groups for Dart and Flutter. Despite of providing great documentation, many experienced developers still get confused understanding Dart.It’s easier for new developers to adopt JavaScript programming as JavaScript is faster, lightweight and dynamic programming language. It boosts the developer productivity by offering countless JS frameworks and thousands of packages which are easily available online.
Learning CurveLearning Dart can be daunting for beginners as it is not a commonly used programming language and there are very limited courses or books available online for the Dart programming language. Learning JavaScript is not an easy task for non-programmers, but knowing the basic programming concepts makes JavaScript easy to learn. There are lots of online course and tutorials out there for the developers who wish to learn JavaScript.

PopularityAs bigger brands like Alibaba and Google started adopting Flutter, its popularity is increasing as an alternative to React-native. Still, a long way to go before it match up to JavaScript’s popularity.JavaScript’s popularity is huge, its everywhere. There is no device in the world that doesn’t run JavaScript.
Front-end Vs Back-endDart is actively used for developing the front-end of cross-platform mobile apps.(not back-end) JavaScript is used for both server-side and backend development.
Type-safetyDart is more type-safe than JavaScript, as it supports both loose and strong prototyping. JavaScript is not a type-safe language, as it supports both dynamic and duck-typing. Programming errors can be found only at run time.
Editor/ IDE SupportDart code can be developed with lightweight editors like Sublime or VIM, but there are IntelliJ IDEA and Android studio that come with the Dart plugin and are the most commonly used IDEs for Dart application development, especially for Flutter app development.

JavaScript offers some great IDEs and editors for JavaScript development and it doesn’t always require a full-fledged IDE as developers can use lightweight editors like VIM, Sublime Text, Emacs or Atom.  Additionally, there are some IDEs like WebStorm and Visual Studio Code that can work well for JavaScript application development.
Commercial useDart backed by Google is also used by big brands like Blossom, WorkTrails, Whale, Mobile etc. JavaScript is extensively used in big companies like Instagram, Reddit, ebay, Slack and Airbnb for developing both web and cross-platform mobile apps.
Web Vs MobileDart can be used for both web as well as mobile application development.JavaScript dominates both mobile and web app development with different frameworks.
SpeedDart is much faster than JavaScript, as it can be compiled both AOT and JIT which helps building apps in several ways as using JIT compilation can speed up development and AOT compilation can be used during the release process for better optimization. This technique has been used in Flutter.

JavaScript is an interpreted language, it’s actually faster than other compiled languages like Java

Why choose JavaScript or Dart?

JavaScript Benefits

  • It can be used on both front-end and back-end.
  • It’s easily used everywhere.
  • It comes with a bundle of useful and popular frameworks.
  • It’s fast, light-weight and flexible.

Dart Benefits

  • It’s more trust-worthy as it’s backed by Google.
  • It runs twice the speed of JavaScript.
  • It’s scalable across various projects.
  • It’s like Java.
  • It’s extensively used for the Flutter mobile UI framework.
  • Dart is type-safe and compiled with both AOT and JIT compilers
  • Open-source

Downsides of JavaScript and Dart

Dart Downside

  • A really small ecosystem of libraries and packages as compared with JavaScript.
  • It has a single object paradigm i.e. classes. Nothing else.
  • You cannot rename the function without writing another assignment statement.
  • Dart has very limited resources online and it’s hard to find solutions to problems.
  • Dart is fairly new to the programmers and rarely used in the market.

JavaScript Downside

  • Does not provide good client-side security. If a malicious website loads on your browser then that code will run and may harm the device. The only solution in this situation will be disable JavaScript.
  • One error can cause the entire website to stop loading.
  • No multithreading support.
  • JavaScript has some libraries that are not of good quality.
  • There are constant changes as a new framework lands after a regular interval.

Quick Wrap up

After going through this detailed comparison on Dart Vs JavaScript, we cannot decide in favour of one technology, as both are equally useful and competent in their own right.

One thing is definitely a key takeaway from this discussion that JavaScript is the undisputed King of client-side and server side development and Dart is also picking up slow but very strong as it has almost all the flexibilities and ease of use as JavaScript. So, it is a win-win for the developers community, that they get to choose the best of both worlds, as per their project and expertise requirements.

Is Dart faster than Java?

JavaScript is an interpreted language, so it might feel lighter and faster. It’s actually faster than other compiled languages like Java. However, Dart proved to be much faster when benchmarked against JavaScript. You can refer to the benchmark of Dart against NodeJS here.

What is Dart VM?

The Dart software development kit (SDK) ships with a stand-alone Dart VM, allowing Dart code to run in a command-line interface environment. As the language tools included in the Dart SDK are written mostly in Dart, the stand-alone Dart VM is a critical part of the SDK.

What is a JavaScript Library?

JavaScript library is a library of pre-written JavaScript which allows for easier development of JavaScript-based applications, especially for AJAX and other web-centric technologies.

What are the main uses of JavaScript?

JavaScript is primarily used in the form of client-side JavaScript, implemented as part of a web browser in order to provide enhanced user interfaces and dynamic websites.

Is there a Converter of JavaScript to Dart?

As some of the others have mentioned, there might never be a converter for JavaScript->Dart. I asked another question if it was/will be possible to call JavaScript code from Dart, there is no official answer on this.

What is JavaScript Language issue Dart Fixing?

Dart isn’t “fixing” JavaScript issues. Dart is a productive, familiar, and general purpose programming language. Dart happens to compile to JavaScript so you can use it to write web apps. But you can also use Dart to build server apps (Dart’s VM runs on the command line just like java, ruby, python, etc).

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About The Author

Thomas is a front-end Mobile Engineer with experience working for startups and multinationals across the world. As a certified Scrum Master, Thomas has worked with a team of 10 engineers located in three different countries for eBay.

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