Skip to content

Compile to WebAssembly

Due to the fact, that Spice uses LLVM as compiler backbone, it is capable of cross-compiling to many different target architectures which LLVM provides backends for. LLVM also supports compiling to WebAssembly and so does Spice. This guide shows you how to use Spice as programming language underneath your web applications, using WebAssembly.


For WebAssembly compilation and linkage, a WebAssembly linker is required. Spice uses the wasm-link linker, shipped with Clang per default. This means, you need Clang and wasm-link installed on your system. On Linux, you can simply install the Clang package. On Windows you can download MinGW64 with Clang from e.g.

Writing the program

For the sake of example, we write a recursive fibonacci algorithm in Spice, which we can make accessible to JavaScript.

public f<int> fibo(int n) {
    if n <= 1 { return n; }
    return fibo(n - 1) + fibo(n - 2);

f<int> main() {
    printf("%d", fibo(45));

You can test, if the code works by compiling and running it, using the following command:
$ spice run main.spice

Spice will not emit the main function when compiling to WebAssembly, so you may delete it now. The important part is to mark all functions as public, which should be accessible from JavaScript later on. Please also note, that you cannot link any external functions from the C standard library into your WebAssembly program, because it is required to be portable to any system. The wasm-link linker will complain if you try to use any external function when trying to compile to wasm32 or wasm64.

Cross-compile to wasm32

Now execute the following command to compile the code to an output .wasm file:
$ spice build -O3 --no-entry --target-arch=wasm32 main.spice

  • -O3 enables the highest possible optimization. You might also want to use -Oz instead to optimize for binary size.
  • --no-entry makes Spice not generate code for the main function. This also lifts the requirement for main
  • --target-arch=wasm32 sets the cross-compilation target to WebAssembly. Another valid option is wasm64, which is currently not fully supported by browser engines as well as LLVM

If you have installed wabt (the WebAssembly binary toolkit), you can view a textual form of your WebAssembly binary like this:
$ wasm-objdump -x main.wasm

Setup WebAssembly project

Create an index.html file in the same directory, where the main.wasm file lives with the following contents:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en-US">
    <title>Spice WebAssembly Demo</title>
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <script src="index.js"></script>

Also create an index.js file:

const fiboBase = 45;

  .then((results) => {
    // WebAssembly
    const startWasm =;
    let result = results.instance.exports._Z4fiboi(fiboBase); // Use the mangled name here
    const stopWasm =;
    console.log("Fibonacci Spice wasm: " + result);
    console.log("Duration (millis): " + (stopWasm - startWasm));
    // JavaScript
    const startJS =;
    result = fibo(fiboBase);
    const stopJS =;
    console.log("Fibonacci JS: " + result);
    console.log("Duration (millis): " + (stopJS - startJS));

function fibo(n) {
  if (n <= 1) { return n; }
  return fibo(n - 1) + fibo(n - 2);

As you can see, you can load the main.wasm file in JavaScript using the WebAssembly module. When successful, we can call all exposed Spice functions using their mangled names. If you don't know the mangled name of your function, you can either use wasm-objdump like described above or add the flag -asm to the compile command to dump the assembly. There you will find the mangled names of all functions.


Now you can use e.g. the node http-server to spin up the web project locally:

npm i -g http-server
http-server .

Navigate to and open the developer console. After waiting a bit, you should see something like this:

Text Only
Fibonacci Spice wasm: 1134903170
Duration (millis): 5346.60000000149
Fibonacci JS: 1134903170
Duration (millis): 8946.19999999553

Congrats on your first WebAssembly project in Spice!