Google Native Client Makes Its Debut in Chrome 14
Announced more than a year ago, Google Native Client (NaCl) made its debut in Chrome Beta Channel yesterday after its SDK reached stability with version 0.5 in late July, and it will be soon released to production with Chrome 14. Applications compiled with SDK 0.5 have a stable ABI (Application Binary Interface) making them compatible with future versions of Chrome. Applications built with earlier SDKs need to be rebuilt because they are not compatible with the latest ABI.
Developers can write NaCl modules for 32 and 64-bit Windows and Linux platforms and 32-bit Mac using Eclipse for C/C++ or Xcode, and Google promises to add NaCl support for Visual Studio in the future. Since it runs on a LLVM (Low Level Virtual Machine), other languages can be supported in the future, and there are a number of compilers under development including Objective-C and FORTRAN. Currently, one must build NaCl modules for each targeted platform, but that will be solved when the Portable Native Client (PDF) is added, and modules will be compiled to a single neutral instruction set that will run on all platforms.
NaCl initially used Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) but switched later to Pepper because NPAPI does not have “robust support” for “event handling, out-of-process plugins, and asynchronous interfaces.” Also, NaCl was intended initially to run on multiple browsers, but it seems that only Chrome will support it because others don’t use Pepper.
A number of examples are available online, but they work only with Chrome 14.
Roy Rapoport Aug 28, 2014