Running Smalltalk on WebAssembly

WebAssembly is a simple code format, that was introduced as a compile target for the web. The idea is to support arbitrary high-level programming languages in the browser, by exposing a low-level instruction set for compiler writers. There are already several mature WebAssembly compilers for languages like C, C++, and Rust. Currently WebAssembly has a very limited feature set. Compiling dynamic languages to WebAssembly is therefore an exciting and open problem.

Watch for a quick WebAssembly (also known as Wasm) introduction.

The goal of this project is to take a well-defined dynamic language and compile it to WebAssembly. As a starting point we will use SOM (Simple Object Model/Smalltalk), for which many reference implementations for other host languages exist. Many features like reflection or garbage collection might turn out to be quite hard to support. We will therefore focus on building a minimal prototype, ignoring some of the hard issues, allowing us to explore the basics. This project is best suited for students that already took a compiler construction lecture. There is the possibility to extend the work into a thesis.

This is a follow up project on, for which Vincent built a js-fiddle like Wasm compiler playground.


Manuel Leuenberger Olivier Fl├╝ckiger