Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Internet Explorer with V8 Engine :: A Partial Reality

Update now it works with Internet Explorer 7 and 8 with O3D plug-in enabled.

Today, via ajaxian, I discovered the new Google O3D project and as a nerd first, and a developer after, I instantly read the API.
Few seconds and I spot this: Use the V8 engine

OK, OK, whatever code you read there will not instantly work ... you have to understand the library and how to retrieve the dreamed eval function to make JavaScript execution possible inside the extremely fast V8 engine.

Obviously V8 integration is great with FireFox and other browsers, but a bit different in Internet Explorer.

This limitation is about the DOM manipulation, something that would make IE a good browser, but everything else, executed via V8 engine and without browser engine references, will perform 5 to 100 time faster.

Function creations, optimized loops, numbers, string manupulation, etc etc ... if we could use a little plugin to fully integrate V8 inside Explorer, we could all forget nowadays benchmark because it will perform better than many other browsers!

Bearing in mind the relationship between V8 variables, different 100% from JScript vars, and latter variables, we can delegate computational tasks to this engine makin IE fast as it has never (and will probably never) been!

What I have so far, is just a poor example about V8 inside IE possibilities, a page that does not work if you do not have V8 inside Exlorer and you do not enable its usage everywhere.

Write a loop like this in the textarea:

for(var a = [], i = 0; i < 500000; ++i)
a[i] = Math.random();

and switching between default and V8 you can read that the difference is about 5 times slower with the default Internet Explorer JavaScript engine, and Google V8.

Still, so far what I can spot as pros and cons is this:

  • mathematical operations up to 100 times faster

  • computational functions speed up

  • common AI patterns (AStar) finally usable in the web

  • games, chess, cards, whatever involves logic, speed up


  • even if you assign a V8 Array.prototype.forEach to native Array.prototype.forEach, the plugin cannot solve engine related dependencies problems ... so it will be simply slower, much slower, because of the data interchange between the method executed externally, and the original engine

  • DOM is not integrated, V8 in IE does not understand nodes so no way to speed up common libraries or add prototypes to native HTMLElement constructor

  • last, but not least, with my laptop I cannot even test the example page I posted before because the JS is not that perfect (Google guys, makeClients accept an id but you check .id === "o3d" in the loop ... does it make any sense?) and my card apparently does not support OpenGL or whatever library the o3d plugin requires

As Summary

This was just a quick post and an experiment which in my opinion is already god enough. I have a vision, about Internet Explorer 8.1 ... those guys created an April fool that is everything but not a fool. Come on Microsoft, let others replace your old, problematic, slow, JScript engine, and let us developers be free to create Web Applications as we would like to do ... please give to Google whatever they need to make V8 IE integartion possible, and let us dream about a not that far possible Web future!

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