Who is this post for?
This post is for informally educated web designers and developers like me who avoid, or previously avoided, topics that seem computer science-y. Maybe you saw something about Rust or Web Assembly and thought, “not for me”. I hear that, but I also want to say…it might be for you (and for me)!
What is Rust?
What’s up with the future?
Another big development is Web Assembly, also known as WASM.
What is Web Assembly (WASM)?
Generally speaking, assembly language is similar to machine language, but where certain collections of characters are replaced with more human-friendly words. Assembly language is a low-level language, meaning programming languages humans write are compiled to assembly language, and these instructions are read directly by a machine. Web assembly is the same concept, but for a browser. The idea is that you can author a program in any programming language, and that language could be compiled to an assembly language that can be executed by the browser. The compiled code is output to a .wasm file. This means that, in theory, any language could run in the browser if it compiles to a .wasm file. I think about it like this:
Here is a helpful, 100 second explainer about WASM that goes into some more detail.
What is my concern?
Now, let’s pretend all of these tools are written in Rust. The source of the open-source tools now has very little in common with the languages I know for my work, and this particular pathway I used to further my technical knowledge as a self-taught web developer may no longer exist.
What am I really saying?
I want to emphasize that this comment isn’t directed toward Rust or the Rust community, but a comment about the potential consequences for who gets to be a programmer in a world where performance is valued above all else in the tools and languages we use.
It’s entirely possible that the gap I anticipate between web development knowledge and Rust knowledge isn’t as vast as I think. The Rust community looks like it has a wealth of introductory learning tools. Learning a bit of Rust has been on my to-do list for two years – maybe 2022 is the year?
Would you, reader, be interested in a “Web Developers Learning Rust Together” virtual meetup kind of thing? Send me an email, if so. Disclaimer: I have no idea if I will actually organize something around this, but I like the idea!