Microsoft goes open source on Chakra JavaScript engine

Microsoft is to make the Chakra JavaScript engine open source and will publish the code on its GitHub page next month. The rationale is to extend the functions of the code, used in the Edge and Internet Explorer 9 browsers, to a much wider role.

The new open source versions of the Chakra engine are to be known as its open sourcing ChakraCore. Announcing the changes at Java development show JS Conf US in Florida, Microsoft now intends to run ChakraCore’s development as a community project which both Intel and AMD have expressed interest in joining. Initially the code will be for Windows only but the rationale behind the open source strategy is to take ChakraCore across platforms, in a repeat of the exercise it pioneered with .NET.

In a statement, Gaurav Seth, Microsoft’s Principal Programme Manager, explained that as Java Script’s role widens, so must the community of developers that support it and opening up the code base will help support that growth.

“Since Chakra’s inception, JavaScript has expanded from a language that primarily powered the web browser experience to a technology that supports apps in stores, server side applications, cloud based services, NoSQL databases, game engines, front-end tools and now the Internet of Things,” said Seth. Over time, Chakra evolved to fit many of these and this meant that apart from throughput, Chakra had to support native interoperability, scalability and manage resource consumption. Its interpreter played a key role in moving the technology across platform architectures but it can only take it so far, said Seth.

“Now 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,” said Seth. The modern JavaScript Engine must go beyond browser work and run everything from small-footprint devices for IoT applications to high-throughput, massively parallel server applications based on cloud technologies, he said.

ChakraCore already fits into any application stack that calls for speed and agility but Microsoft intends to give it greater license to become more versatile and extend beyond the Windows ecosystem, said Seth. “We are committed to bringing ChakraCore to other platforms in the future. We’d invite developers to help us in this pursuit by letting us know which other platforms they’d like to see ChakraCore supported on to help us prioritize future investments, or even by helping port it to the platform of their choice,” said Seth.