Microsoft takes on GWT

It’s been a problem for a while that developers of web applications need to use a language like JavaScript on the web client, and another language like Java or C# or Python on the server. One popular attempt to fix this is Google’s GWT, and there have been other less mainstream options like ParenScript for Lisp and Links.

Now, Microsoft is launching another contender in the same space: Volta.

The post is somewhat obscure, but it’s essentially a beta version of a GWT competitor for .NET. You use annotations to mark chunks of code to be run on the client-side or server-side, and they’re compiled behind the scenes to JavaScript and deployed. There’s a debugger and profiler for the client-side code too.

An interesting feature about it, is that it works on MSIL (the .NET bytecode) rather than on the language syntax (as GWT does). Therefore, you should be able to use the more functional .NET languages with it – F#, for instance, is an ML implementation for .NET that appears well supported by MS. For that matter, C# 3 is already among the most functional mainstream languages.

The beta version is only available for Visual Studio.NET 2008 – currently available if you have an MSDN subscription, but not yet available for purchase.