Microsoft Open-Sources 'Chakra' JavaScript Engine

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2015-12-05 Print this article Print
Chakra JavaScript Engine

Microsoft integrated Chakra into Internet Explorer 9 (IE9). In a blog post describing the integration, Dean Hachamovitch, formerly general manager for the Internet Explorer browser wrote: "We're committed to the right foundation for HTML5 applications, including performance and ensuring the same markup and same script work across browsers. One aspect of doing these things well is integrating the JavaScript engine natively inside the browser, rather than bolting it onto the side to support multiple JavaScript engines as some other browsers do today. How a JavaScript engine is integrated into the browser is as important as the engine itself for real-world HTML5. The fourth Platform Preview moves the new JavaScript engine, codenamed Chakra, inside IE9 and brings them together into one single, integrated system."

However, since Chakra's inception, JavaScript has expanded from a language that primarily powered the Web browser experience to a technology that supports apps in stores, server side applications, cloud-based services, NoSQL databases, game engines, front-end tools and most recently, the Internet of Things, Foresti and Seth said. Over time, Chakra evolved to fit many of these contexts and has been optimized to deliver great experiences across them all, they said.

"This meant that apart from throughput, Chakra had to support native interoperability, great scalability and the ability to throttle resource consumption to execute code within constrained resource environments. Chakra's interpreter played a key role in easy portability of the technology across platform architectures," the post said.

In addition to the Microsoft Edge browser, Chakra powers Universal Windows applications across all form factors supporting Windows 10, including an Xbox, a phone, or a traditional PC. It powers services such Azure DocumentDB, Cortana and It is used by TypeScript. And with Windows 10, Microsoft enabled Node.js to run with Chakra, to help advance the reach of Node.js ecosystem and make Node.js available on a new IoT platform: Windows 10 IoT Core, Foresti and Seth said.

Moreover, they noted that with the release of Windows 10 earlier this year, Chakra was not only optimized to run the Web faster, but more than doubled its performance on some key JavaScript benchmarks owned by other browser vendors. Chakra supports most of the ECMAScript 2015 (aka ES6) features and has support for some of the future ECMAScript proposals like Async Functions and SIMD. It supports asm.js and the team is helping to evolve WebAssembly and its associated infrastructure, Microsoft said.

"Any modern JavaScript Engine must deliver on a performance envelope that goes beyond browser scenarios, encompassing everything from small-footprint devices for IoT applications, all the way up to high-throughput, massively parallel server applications based on cloud technologies," the post said. "ChakraCore is already designed to fit into any application stack that calls for a fast, scalable, and lightweight engine. We intend to make it even more versatile over time, both within and beyond the Windows ecosystem. While the initial January release will be Windows-only, we are committed to bringing ChakraCore to other platforms in the future…"


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