WebAssembly: The future of web platform
the browser. With modern updates making a way into the web world, one such innovation gained
ground and is called the WebAssembly.
Before exploring what WebAssembly is, the advantages, and how it is useful, here is another
functionality that is closely associated with the WebAssembly, called LLVM.
WebAssembly (abbreviated Wasm) and LLVM together are responsible for the binary
instruction format for the stack-based virtual machines.
Below is a visual representation of the WebAssembly and its operation.
other languages like Rust, C, C++, etc. And, it aims to enable high-performance applications on
the web without compromising safety and portability.
WebAssembly also overcomes the challenges posed by Java Applet and Flash from the past like poor
integration with the browsers, additional run-time and plug in requirements, and security
Here is an illustration of the WebAssembly flow, an excerpt from the above video.
The creation of a .wasm file is an interesting subject in itself, despite the existence of
differences in terms of Target Platforms, Instruction Set Architecture and Operating Systems.
Thus, the visible piece of the Rust ecosystem, to a programmer, in the whole process is the
The process of creating a machine-understandable code is a two-phase activity:
Compilers like Rust/Swift/C++/Kotlin and many others perform the frontend job of enforcing their
language-specific rules on the source code to produce an LLVM Intermediate Representation. The
LLVM backend takes this IR to produce a machine code that is understandable by the target. Thus,
your compiled code, whether it is an executable or a shared library, becomes language-agnostic
when it is represented in the Intermediate Representation.
Thus WebAssembly is considered a Virtual Instruction Set Architecture and applies this idea of
cross-compilation to emit a platform-agnostic Intermediate Representation. Interestingly the
target triple for this in Rust is wasm32-unknown-unknown. Where “unknown” should be read as
“independent of”. It is independent of the Vendor and Independent of the Operating System. The
.wasm file is thus language agnostic. And most importantly, the .wasm file can run in all the
parsing, compiling, coercing the type, optimizing and reoptimizing the code every time, the
into an intermediate representation. This intermediate representation is relatively closer to
Security is the most important vector for any web application. The main storage of a WebAssembly
is a large array of bytes called linear memory. The linear memory is disjoint from the code
space and the execution stack. This insulates the compiled program from corrupting the execution
environment by jumping to arbitrary locations to open gates for compromising security.
WebAssemblies, though are language agnostic, the process of building using Rust bestows all the
testability, and improved predictability to the performance. Overall, WebAssembly helps to
improve the maintainability of the Web Application.
WebAssembly helps to move portions of the heavy-duty operations that are being performed at the
Server-Side to the Browser. This will help in reducing the total cost of ownership by freeing up
the server resources and in reducing I/O overheads.
The founding pillars of software engineering are the programmers, their algorithm, their
application of coding skills. These are the vital drivers that make an application better in
every dimension. And, a language like Rust combined with ideas like WebAssembly enables
application. Together, this combination becomes a sign of breakthrough innovation and progress.