Google is accelerating its effort this week to bring more powerful and fully functioned applications to the Web with the release of the Native Client SDK preview.
Native Client is an open source technology that enables native C or C++ code to run in a Web browser, bringing more advanced applications to the Web that can run inside of Google's Chrome browser.
"When we released the research version of Native Client a year ago, we offered a snapshot of our source tree that developers could download and tinker with, but the download was big and cumbersome to use," David Springer, a senior software engineer at Google, wrote in a blog post. "The Native Client SDK preview, in contrast, includes just the basics you need to get started writing an app in minutes."
With the new SDK, Google is providing a GCC-based compiler for C and C++ source code as well as samples to help developers build native-code-compliant applications.
"Native Client seems like a huge leap backwards to me," a commenter using the alias "Guspaz" wrote in response to the Native Client blog post. "Why would anybody want to use Native Client when it will prevent your app from running on a variety of platforms such as older Macs, smartphones, tablets, and even smartbooks (including ChromeOS) that run PowerPC or ARM processors? I'm just not seeing the point here."
As it turns out, portability is a key theme for Native Client development, according to Google. Henry Bridge, Google's product manager for Native Client, responded to concerns about lock-in by noting that Google is deeply committed to building a system that's platform-neutral. That said, Bridge admitted that Google has yet to ship a neutral-platform format for the SDK, or an ARM compiler either. He added that Google has no plans to build a compiler for PowerPC.