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Microsoft Open Sources The Chakra Development Platform

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Microsoft made a significant contribution to the recent corporate-driven move to make knowledge more freely available, as it open-sourced the ChakraCore, this weekend at the JSConf US Last Call conference in Florida.

Vital to Microsoft’s newly released Edge browser — which finally gave the Windows OS a built-in explorer worth its salt — Chakra is a JavaScript engine developed by the company in 2008 to cater to the emergent and ultra-modern web. The result of all the intensive development was a platform that turned out to be fast, efficient and able to harness the full power of the hardware.

Well, after almost 20 year since its first line of code was punched, the Java programming language has evolved from being merely a tool for powering the web browser to something regarded as one of the founding stones of the web. Today, it is widely deployed and the myriad of its uses include supporting apps in stores, server-side applications, cloud based services and game engines.

Well, as the language has evolved so as the associated platform. The Chakra platform has today outgrown its initial use and is now employed in Windows 10 applications across various platforms — Be it the Xbox, high-end Smartphones or the age-old PC. The platform also powers services such as Azure DocumentDB, Cortana and Outlook.com. and even the Node.js in Windows 10 IoT Core.

That is probably why this announcement, coming as it does now, acquires even greater significance. As per a blog post by Gaurav Seth, Principal PM Manager, Microsoft,

Since its introduction in 2008, Chakra has grown to be a perfect choice for the web, cloud services, and the Internet of Things. With today’s announcement, we’re taking the next step by giving developers a fully supported and fully open-source JavaScript engine available to embed in their projects, innovate on top of, and contribute back to: ChakraCore.

Microsoft is calling the version of Chakra it will be adding to GitHub repositary next month as ChakraCore. The ChakraCore differs from the original Chakra platform — which ships with Windows 10 — in a few respects.

While the ChakraCore does come with all the essentials, such as the JavaScript engine with its associated components — including the parser, the interpreter, APIs used to embed the engine into applications etc. — and will provide performance similar to Chakra, it does not include some non-essentials such as Windows specific APIs, which is okay, since the former is meant to be open-source and not platform specific. Instead, alternative APIs will be developed and integrated into the Open Source version.

As for what Microsoft expects from this, well, not only may this prove to be an immense help to developers around the world looking to work with the platform, but may also lead to an improvement in the technology itself, with inputs and feedback from users. Also, let us not forget that the fact that the move will allow more and more of Microsoft backed technology eventually make its way into the global tech-ecosystem.

As per Microsoft,

Chakra offers best-in-class JavaScript execution with the broadest set of ES2015 feature coverage and dependable performance, reliability, and scalability. We expect ChakraCore to be used wherever these factors are important, ranging from cloud-based services to the Internet of Things and beyond.

Apart from the community, other organizations are also looking to join hands with the initiative in developing the platform, once it becomes open-source with  Intel, AMD, and NodeSource among those who have already pledged their support.

The repository will open to modifications and contributions from the public in January and Microsoft, which seems to be taking its feedback very seriously, has welcomed suggestions from the community.

The community is at the heart of any open source project, so we look forward to the community cloning the repository, inspecting the code, building it, and contributing everything from new functionality to tests or bug fixes. We also welcome suggestions on how to improve ChakraCore for particular scenarios that are important to you or your business.

The modifications and improvements received via the github project will be regularly incorporated in the Chakra shipping with Windows 10, thus leading to an improved and enhanced version that is brought about by direct interaction with the consumers.


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