Help Higgs Compile JavaScript
Written by Mike James   
Friday, 10 January 2014

Making JavaScript go faster is something of great importance just at the moment - what about an advanced JIT compiler? Higgs is just such a thing and the open source project needs your help.

If your New Year's resolution was to get more involved in open source then spare a thought for Higgs. This is a research project started by  Maxime Chevalier-Boisvert at the University of Toronto to create an x86-64 compiler. 

The core of Higgs is written in D so if you hope to contribute to the source code you need to program in D or be prepared to learn it. But there is a JavaScript runtime that also needs work. The compiler uses some novel techniques which could eventually result in something that is faster than the existing big JavaScript engines like V8 and IonMonkey. 

You can see a recent presentation of the ideas in the following video: 

  

It comes with two features that take it beyond the basic out of the browser JavaScript experience. The first is a Foreign Function Interface that allows you to call C code and a set of libraries that provide basic OS operations such as console, stdio and so on. 

Given sufficient input it could result in a useful addition to the way that JavaScript can be run outside of the browser.

As its creator says:

"I ‘d like for Higgs to become a “batteries-included” programming environment that hobbyist programmers can use to run JavaScript code outside of the browser. I believe there is a niche to be filled. It should be trivial to do things like open a window and begin producing graphics and sound with only a few lines of code, using simple and user-friendly APIs, no special configuration required. It should be trivial, yet this is something you can’t easily do in Python or Ruby, for example. You usually need to install/compile extra packages, and the GUI libraries require much boilerplate code."

If you would like to contribute then there are some "easy" tasks waiting for you at the Higgs GitHub pages. If you just want to try it out then you will find all of that you need in the same location.

 higgs

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