Google Integrates Native Client Into Latest Chrome Beta

One of the roadblocks to more powerful Web apps is the inability of those apps to harness a local machine’s computational power. Native Client (NaCl), now integrated into the next Chrome beta release, is designed to help solve this problem by providing a way to execute native code within the browser.

Launched back at the end of 2008, Native Client is an open source project that enables the secure execution of C and C++ code within the browser. Native Client is purportedly as safe as JavaScript, and NaCl apps leverage the Pepper Plugin API (PPAPI).

Google’s aim with NaCl was clear from the get-go, as indicated in the initial Google blog announcement well over two years ago:

At Google we're always trying to make the web a better platform. That's why we're working on Native Client, a technology that aims to give web developers access to the full power of the client's CPU while maintaining the browser neutrality, OS portability and safety that people expect from web applications.

At its core, our release consists of a runtime, a browser plugin, and a set of GCC-based compilation tools. Together, these components make it possible to build applications that run in a web browser but incorporate native code modules.

It will be interesting to see how these technologies converge with each other and with HTML5, but anything that can help remove some lag from Web apps will be an important development.