NaCl – Google Native Client, not the substance

Apparently, Google is out to implement a brilliant browser upgrade. They are working on a project, that allows native code to run in a browser. It’s still in early development, as the first preview was released about a year ago (June 1, 2009).

This sounds nice, but what will it actually be useful for? Well, as you might already know, Google Chrome supports WebApps, which are sort of downloadable web pages like GMail, Google Calendar and so on, that provide essentially the same functionality of their counterpart webpages, but should work faster and also keep some bonus metadata locally. The theory is to make the web closer to a desktop, sort of what Chrome OS is for. Right now, these WebApps use pretty much the same internal code that the webpages do, but with native code, one could write the app in C/C++ and probably some/any other programming language (not sure… ) thus increasing both speed and browser independent coding.

NaCl is supposed to be supported on Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Opera running on 32-bit x86 windows, Linux or Mac, although I think in its current stage it only works on Chrome dev channel, with the --enable-nacl option.

There is a gallery with some nice snippets of code and compiled demos to show it’s working, http://naclports.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/src/gallery/index.html but this is still in development stage, so mainstream availability is still pretty far. To run these modules you need Google Chrome dev version with --enable-nacl (they say Chrome dev 7 has it enabled by default, but it didn’t seem to work without manually adding the option). The modules are basically embeddable executables (.nexe as far as I learnt). There’s also one more thing I noticed, that these apps apparently loaded REALLY slow but that might be because of the time it took for them to download, but then they just run at great frame rates (no specific numbers shown, but they go really fast for browser content). To get an idea for speed, imagine this technology could be used to run Photoshop in the browser (maybe not really Photoshop, but full-blown software).

This might be the point where the browser might be able to fully replace the desktop, but it’s great tech anyway, and I sure hope to see it hit mainstream audiences and see some useful stuff done with it.

PS: To add a runtime option to a program, right-click on the shortcut -> go to properties -> see the program path over there? add a space and the option at the end of it. You can also add multiple space separated options to any program (these are defined into the program, you can’t just add random options to anything : ) ) or you can run the program through cmd and add the option there. For Linux users, I shouldn’t even bother to explain : D.

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~ by Laserbeam on August 26, 2010.

4 Responses to “NaCl – Google Native Client, not the substance”

  1. “bonus metadata”? =))). Si eu de exemplu nu as sti sa adaug in Linux un command line fara googalit. :P

  2. bine mah roli = )) bonus metadata am zis si eu acolo de fun… da ca nu iti ies tie comenzile in Linux aia e alta poveste = ))

  3. suna ca si ActiveX…ceea ce a fost un epic fail
    sper ca google va reusi sa faca ceva mai bun

  4. tocmai am testat, pe versiunea 7.0.503.0 dev nu merge NaCl, desi am pus command line arguments. Nu mai apare eroare missing plugin, ci doar nu se intampla nimica, iar dupa 1 min da page error.
    Asa ca for now, NaCl ii un vis frumos care merge doar intr-un singur browser, intr-un singur sistem de operare.

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