Performance Matters or Not

Joel Spolsky had a post “Strategy Letter VI“. And I did agree with him to some degree when reading the post. And I decided to write a post about these opinions related to Java2Script later in the evening. And later in evening I found that Ajaxian’s Ben Galbraith posted his opinions but with title “Go Ajax, Young Man“. Well, the title said something already.

Here follows the Java2Script performance issues and SDK concerns.

Right now, performance is a really big matter to Java2Script. But does performance matter a lot in the future? That is a question.

Java2Script was open sourced in late of 2005. And now, 2 years has passed. And Firefox 2.0 is already released, while 2 year ago, it was still in its 1.0. And I could tell that the browser is improved a lot. OK, as I have paid lots of efforts in improving Java2Script performance, I think I would rather bet on the improvement of browser, the improvement of JavaScript engine (such as upgrading to Adobe’s script engine), upgrading of CPU and machine.

About performance, maybe a lot of developers complain that Java is slow. In fact, a lot of developer complains that Eclipse, which is Java based, is very slow and could not stand for it. But Java is still a language used by most of the developers in the last 4 or 5 years. And JavaScript is a language that is much slower than other language. But in recent three years, it is getting hotter and hotter in the format of AJAX development. No matter how slow it is.

Back to Java2Script. Java2Script compile Java sources to JavaScript, and Java2Script supports a port of desktop SWT library in JavaScript besides supporting most common java.* classes. The compilation from Java to JavaScript is done in a Java-way, that is to say, all information in Java sources are preserved in JavaScript, so lots of Java information and features are reserved, including Java reflection. And SWT library is considered a heavy weight library for JavaScript, as it was once designed for desktop application, not for web application.

Now come to comparison of Google Web Toolkit (GWT). GWT is a similar project when comparing to Java2Script. It contains a Java to JavaScript compiler, and supports a set of basic java.* libraries and a set of UI library. But the compilation of Java to JavaScript is not in the same way of Java2Script. It is in a C-way. It links all related JavaScript into a big JavaScript file. And those unrelated (unused) JavaScript are left without packing into the big JavaScript file. So you can not retrieve the Java class information from the final *.js file. But as compiling in C-way, the final *.js is a lot smaller than Java2Script’s *.js. And it also runs a lot faster than Java2Script’s. And the UI library of GWT is a new set of APIs. It is designed for web applications in browser only. So it is more browser-oriented and much more light weighted. In such a way, GWT’s performance is far faster than Java2Script. So few people cares about GWT’s performance.

In some simple words:
Java2Script is not optimized with more heavy weight SDK APIs
GWT is optimized in compiling with a light weight SDK APIs.

In fact, GWT is 100 times more popular than Java2Script at this writing time. So that means performance do matters. But what about 2 more years later? Is there any possibilities that GWT’s APIs is out and GWT’s early performance optimization is lagged behind the improvement of hardware and browser? Maybe later, AJAX developments prove that those optimized compiled *.js is not the trends, and web applications oriented UI APIs is not the trends for richer applications. But no one knows now. So as Ben Galbraith said:

it’s hard to dispute that in a year or two, JavaScript will be much, much faster.

BTW: Java2Script 1.0.0 is to be released by the end of this September, even though performance is still a big problem (but not a huge problem now).

For more discussions, you may want to read early Java to JavaScript compiler discussions

This entry was posted in Architecture, GWT, Hacks, JavaScript, SWT. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Performance Matters or Not

  1. Pingback: All Night Coder - Today’s Top Blog Posts on Programming - Powered by SocialRank

  2. Math2gold says:

    well,i think it’s a better way is java2script support GWT and support other UI libraries,or there will be a project calls “GWT2SWT” . //dream

  3. Zhou Renjian says:

    Not agree with you.

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