Firefox and Chrome ship with experimental WebAssembly support

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 15, 2016

Mozilla and Google announced today that they have added experimental WebAssembly support to Firefox Nightly and Chrome Canary.

Microsoft revealed that it will launch a version of Microsoft Edge in the future that supports WebAssembly as well.

So what is WebAssembly, and why is its introduction important?

WebAssembly is an emerging standard whose goal is to define a safe, portable, size- and load-time efficient binary compiler target which offers near-native performance—a virtual CPU for the Web.

It is being developed in a W3C Community Group with members from Mozilla, Microsoft, Google and Apple which means that the technology will find its way into all major browsers in the near future.

WebAssembly takes asm.js to the next level not only by optimzing storage size and decoding time but also by going beyond JavaScript.

A demo has been released to highlight the capabilities of WebAssembly in comparison to asm.js. If you run Chrome Canary or Firefox Nightly, head over to the demo site after making the following adjustments to your browser of choice:

  • Firefox Nightly: Open about:config, and set the preference javascript.options.wasm to true by double-clicking on its name.
  • Chrome Canary: Load chrome://flags/#enable-webassembly, click on the enable link and restart the browser.

There is no public preview option available for Microsoft Edge or Safari currently.

Head over to the demo site and click on the "Play WebAssembly" button afterwards. The 3D game will load and you can move around using WASD and shoot with the left mouse button. It is basic but shows how fluid games can be using WebAssembly.

This is an experimental demo of Angry Bots, a Unity game which has been ported to WebAssembly. Fight robots and explore a 3D space station with realistic environmental effects in this top-down shooter. Movement is controlled by W, A, S, D or the arrow keys and aiming & firing is controlled by the mouse.

You may also click on "Play asm.js fallback" instead to see the difference when asm.js is used instead of WebAssembly.

Information about WebAssembly are available on Microsoft's Edge blog, Google's V8 Project blog, and Mozilla Hacks.

All reveal that there is still lots of work to be done before WebAssembly will be supported by stable versions of web browsers.

WebAssembly code and development information can be found on Github.

Good news is that WebAssembly will pave the way for demanding web applications once it is released, and since it is supported by all major browsers, it is less likely that the technology will fade into obscurity.

Firefox and Chrome ship with experimental WebAssembly support
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Firefox and Chrome ship with experimental WebAssembly support
Mozilla and Google announced today that they have added experimental WebAssembly support to Firefox Nightly and Chrome Canary.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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