Will Google Break the Web?


Google (NAS: GOOG) is busy crafting a new programming language that it believes can replace JavaScript and in the process make Web apps more functional than they are today.

The language, called Dart, proposes to solve the problems of structured Web programming. We don't yet know what that means, but it's a good bet it refers to creating apps that perform natively from within a browser's virtual machine (i.e., a software mechanism for executing code).

Details are to come next month at the GOTO conference in Denmark. Two Google engineers with specialties in programming and virtual machines will present, but detractors are already coming forward. At issue is not what Google is doing but how. As Stephen Shankland at CNET reports, big names fear that Dart amounts to Google forcing its view of Web programming onto the wider world.

Sound familiar? It should. Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) has long been skewered for keeping Windows close at hand while creating custom technology such as ActiveX controls for interfacing with the Web. Google, skeptics say, is becoming more like Mr. Softy by the day.

Among them: Brendan Eich, chief technology officer for The Mozilla Foundation and also the creator of JavaScript. Shankland quoted comments he made on a discussion board in which he accused Google of "open-washing" with Dart, otherwise known as positioning a technology as open when it's still controlled by a single company.

It's an important point. Java technology -- no relation to JavaScript (weird, I know) -- was positioned as open yet controlled by a single entity for years. Now Oracle (NAS: ORCL) has it, and is suing Google for using Java tools in developing the Android mobile operating system.

Meanwhile, both users and companies appear to be getting more enthusiastic about using the Web as an application delivery and collaboration platform. More than 45,000 attended salesforce.com's (NYS: CRM) Dreamforce customer conference last week.

Therein lies the danger. As much demand as there is for Web programming improvements, if Dart fails to become an open source language -- it belongs to Google first and foremost -- some will hesitate to use it. Others will want to change it. The result? Conflicts that kill Dart's chances at becoming widely adopted.

As investors, we should hope it doesn't come to that. One standard that advances the functions available to Web apps would make Google more relevant, and more valuable. Do you agree? Disagree? Please weigh in using the comments box below. You can also keep tabs on the rise of cloud computing by adding any of these stocks to your watchlist:

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Google and Oracle at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Google, and Oracle. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Microsoft, and salesforce.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended shorting salesforce.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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