Building a Better Web
June 11–12, 2018: Training
June 12–14, 2018: Tutorials & Conference
San Jose, CA

What Is WebAssembly Good For?

Sasha Aickin (Self-employed)
9:00am–9:40am Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Future JS and Functional
Location: 210 B/F Level: Intermediate
Secondary topics:  Developer Experience Track: Tools, Platforms, and Techniques, Technical

Who is this presentation for?

Front end developers, web developers, node developers

Prerequisite knowledge

Attendees should have a working knowledge of JavaScript and web app development. It would help if attendees had experience with a lower level compiled language as well, but it is not necessary.

What you'll learn

I would like attendees to learn which classes of problem that are good fits for WebAssembly and, crucially, which are not.


WebAssembly holds great promise for the ability to create faster and more reliable dynamic websites, and it is now shipping in all major current browsers. The truth on the ground, however, is a bit more complicated: WebAssembly doesn’t natively support garbage collection, interoperation with JavaScript can be painful, and performance doesn’t always match up to expectations.

In this session, we will explore the strengths and the limits of WebAssembly through the lens of a medium-sized project that has been ported from JavaScript to WebAssembly using Rust.

  • WebAssembly file sizes and optimization
  • The expense of JavaScript interoperation
  • WebAssembly performance differences among browsers
  • Consistency of WebAssembly performance
  • What is WebAssembly bad at?
Photo of Sasha Aickin

Sasha Aickin


Sasha has been working in the software industry in San Francisco for nearly 20 years. His most recent position was as the CTO of Redfin, and he is currently also a React core team member.

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