Paul Krill

About the Author Paul Krill


Java JDK 10: What new features to expect in the next Java

Developers who may be just getting used to Java 9, released in September 2017, will have only a few months left before the next generation of Java is out. In mid-December, the planned Java Development Kit 10 upgrade moved to a rampdown phase. In the initial rampdown phase, only P1 through P3 bugs can be fixed.

When JDK 10 will be released

JDK 10, an implementation of Java Standard Edition 10, is due for production release on March 20, 2018. Key improvements proposed include a local type inference and a “clean” interface for garbage collection.

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Microsoft readies dev kit, Q# language for quantum computing

Microsoft is offering a developer kit to help get started in quantum computing and using the company’s quantum-focused Q# programming language.

Microsoft has been bullish lately on quantum computing, with CEO Satya Nadella recently calling these computers the future. A quantum computer can solve complex problems in hours or days, compared to classical computers that would take billions of years, the company said. Microsoft sees quantum computing having major implications in areas such as health care, energy, and environmental systems.

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State of JavaScript: TypeScript rises, Angular falls

While ECMAScript 6 remains the standard for JavaScript programming, TypeScript, Microsoft’s typed superset of JavaScript, might one day give ECMAScript 6 a run for its money, a newly released report suggests. The December 12 report, titled “The State of JavaScript 2017,” also finds increasing interest in Vue.js and GraphQL and waning interest in Google’s Angular.

The State of JavaScript 2017” compiles the results of a survey of more than 28 thousand developers about their use of JavaScript technologies. The most popular flavor or variant of JavaScript proved to be ECMAScript 6, based on the number of developers who said they “have used it before and would use it again.” 

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IBM offers code patterns for AI, microservices, blockchain apps

IBM has released two sets of freely available code and other development assets: IBM Code Patterns and Bot Asset Exchange.

The features in IBM Code Patterns

With IBM Code Patterns, IBM is providing more than 120 open source code patterns intended to streamline the coding process for applications using artificial intelligence, blockchain, microservices, analytics, data science, internet of things, devops, containers, the cloud, Java, Python, and virtual reality.

IBM Code Patterns includes curated packages of reusable code, GitHub repos, documentation, and resources that provide a view of underlying code, including architecture diagrams and process flows, so developers don’t have to weed through thousands of code bases and documentation to get work done.

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What’s next for the Glimmer mobile JavaScript library

Glimmer, a library for building mobile applications that arose out of the Ember.js front-end JavaScript stack, will use custom bytecode to improve web application loading on mobile devices.

The Glimmer UI component library features a virtual machine architecture similar to the JVM in Java and Microsoft’s Common Language Runtime. This virtual machine is built to run inside the browser for use in web UIs. Glimmer and Ember also feature the Handlebars open source library for templating. Because Glimmer is the rendering engine for Ember, improvements in Glimmer help Ember as well.

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C’s wild ride: From all-time low to big gains

The venerable, close-to-the-metal C language has enjoyed a reversal of fortune in the Tiobe language popularity index, emerging as a candidate for the index’s top gainer this year after sustaining its record low just four months ago.

Although still in second place in this month’s index behind Java, C—with its 10.158 percent rating—has jumped nearly four percentage points since August, when it sustained an all-time low of 6.477 percent. (Java also had an all-time low that month of 12.961 percent.) C’s rating also has increased 1.43 points compared to December 2016. Tiobe, which offers software quality services, attributes C’s rise this year to its usefulness in programming of small software devices and the increase of low-level software in the automotive industry, where C also has a stronghold.

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What’s new in Google’s Go language

The team behind Google’s Go language has just released a beta of Go 1.10, the next version of the popular open source language.

The new features in Google Go 1.10 beta

The upgrade offers compiler tool chain and performance improvements but no substantive language changes.

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What’s new in Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2017

The Version 15.6 beta update to Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2017 IDE, is now avaiable. And Visual Studio Version 15.5 is now availanle in its production version, no longer in beta.

Visual Studio 2017 15.6 beta’s features

Microsoft on December 7 released a beta of Visual Studio 2017 15.6. Its features include:

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Unikraft project promises to simplify unikernel creation

Unikernels promise fast boots, tiny memory footprints, and high performance, but they must be developed from scratch for each application. NEC is working to remove this barrier to unikernel adoption with a configurable unikernel code base called Unikraft.

Developed under the auspices of the Linux Foundation’s Xen Project, Unikraft will address unikernel development issues by providing libraries of operating system components that users can pick and choose from, using a menu to build a working image. Among the goals is to support multiple target platforms including Xen, KVM, and bare metal without having to do additional work to accommodate them.

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Pivotal will bring serverless computing to Cloud Foundry

Serverless computing is coming to the Pivotal Cloud Foundry cloud computing platform, in the form of Pivotal Function Services. There’s no firm release date, but Pivotal says it’s aiming for early 2018.

With serverless computing, events happen only in response to events in an on-demand manner; Amazon Web Services’ AWS Lambda is perhaps the best-known service in this genre. Other companies also have jumped on this growing bandwagon: Google, for example, offers its Cloud Functions platform and Microsoft has Azure Functions.

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What’s next for the Groovy language: The 2018 roadmap

Groovy, the veteran language for the Java Virtual Machine, has several enhancements on its roadmap, such as to support Java 9 modularity and Java 8 lambda capabilities. Although closely linked to Java, Groovy offers additional capabilities such as the ability to write compile-time transformations and macros.

The Apache Software Foundation plans the following Groovy upgrades in the next year:

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What’s new in PHP 7.2: better security, code handling

PHP 7.2, the latest version of the popular server-side web development language, has numerous features and fixes.

The November 30, 2017, release is the second feature update to the PHP 7 series. PHP 7.0 debuted in December 2015 to much fanfare, with the upgrade offering double the performance of previous PHP iterations.

New security features in PHP 7.2

The PHP 7.2 release offers multiple security improvements:

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Rust language gets direct WebAssembly compilation

Rust, the Mozilla-sponsored programming language geared to developing fast system-level software, can now compile to the WebAssembly portable code format without the need for additional tools.

Although still not officially supported, this feature was added via a pull request to enable WebAssembly as a back end by default. Through a nightly build this week, the wasm32-unknown-unknown target became natively available in Rust. (Nightly builds are unsupported test offshoots of the formal Rust language code, but their capabilities often get merged into the official build later.)

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AWS streamlines cloud services for JavaScript developers

Amazon Web Services has developed a declarative JavaScript library, AWS Amplify, to aid building cloud-enabled applications via categories of cloud services instead of via individual service contracts.

AWS Amplify features

The AWS Amplify library supports multiple category scenarios, including:

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EE4J: Eclipse’s replacement for Java EE unveiled

The Eclipse Foundation, the new keeper of enterprise Java, has moved forward with nine project proposals for Eclipse Enterprise for Java (EE4J), which the organization describes as the first step toward the migration of Java EE (Enterprise Edition) to the open source tools organization.

The proposals, published for community review, cover aspects of Java ranging from JSON and REST to messaging. They emerge in response to Oracle’s decision in August to turn over enterprise Java to an open source tools foundation, which resulted in Eclipse taking over the project. This followed a tumultuous year for enterprise Java, with Oracle deciding on a plan to upgrade Java EE after being criticized for neglect, only to shed stewardship of Java EE this year.  

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What’s new in NativeScript

NativeScript, a framework for native mobile application development leveraging JavaScript technologies, is being outfitted with starter templates to streamline the development process. The templates are among a series of enhancements being made to the platform.

The templates are part of NativeScript Sidekick, a GUI client companion to the NativeScript command-line interface. Sidekick was introduced on Tuesday. Along with the templates, Sidekick contains plugins, cloud builds, and debugging support. Progress Software, the developer of NativeScript, offers Sidekick as a free download.

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What’s new in NativeScript

NativeScript, a framework for native mobile application development leveraging JavaScript technologies, is being outfitted with starter templates to streamline the development process. The templates are among a series of enhancements being made to the platform.

The templates are part of NativeScript Sidekick, a GUI client companion to the NativeScript command-line interface. Sidekick was introduced on Tuesday. Along with the templates, Sidekick contains plugins, cloud builds, and debugging support. Progress Software, the developer of NativeScript, offers Sidekick as a free download.

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What’s next for Microsoft’s .Net CLR

Microsoft’s Common Language Runtime, the virtual machine that anchors the .Net Framework, is due for a makeover, with the company announcing plans to make the CLR more efficient and scalable.

Key to this modernization will be improvements to the intermediate language underlying the CLR, called IL, which has not been upgraded in ten years, said Mads Torgersen, lead designer for C# at Microsoft. The company wants to improve the IL and make the CLR a richer target for programming languages. 

The goal of the CLR is to run .Net programs efficiently. Currently the biggest problem with .Net is the inherent limits of scalability of the runtime itself, said Ben Watson, Microsoft principal software engineer. The CLR is being pushed beyond its original intention and design. Watson explained that when multiple gigabytes of code are being loaded, algorithms built into the CLR start breaking down. 

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Microsoft brings Apache Spark, Cassandra, MariaDB to its Azure cloud

Microsoft has brought several third-party popular platforms to its Azure cloud aimed at developers and data analysts.

The new Azure capabilities include:

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Microsoft debuts beta Visual Studio Tools for AI

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Microsoft’s Mono .Net runtime brings back interpreter

Mono, Microsoft’s open source, cross-platform runtime for .Net-based development, has regained its .Net interpreter, about a decade after it was removed to keep Mono’s development effort manageable.

Mono’s developers are now turning their attention to using the interpreter in mixed-mode code execution, which combines interpreted code and statically compiled code.

What mixed-mode exdcution will bring to Mono

When mixed-mode execution becomes available, developers will benefit from having core libraries optimized with the LLVM compiler platform but still have flexibility of running some dynamic code, said Miguel de Icaza, a longtime leader of the Mono project.

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Scripting languages slip in popularity

Prominent scripting languages, once viewed as the future of programming by offering ease of use, have slipped in the monthly Tiobe index of language popularity. Only Python and JavaScript still have some momentum.

Languages that have seen their fortunes decline include Perl, PHP, and Ruby. Software quality services company Tiobe’s suspected cause is a desire among developers for higher quality than is afforded in scripting languages: “Because quality demands are getting higher and higher, hardly anybody dares to write a critical and large software system in a scripting language nowadays.”

With scripting languages, most errors show up in runtime. And this is a problem, Tiobe says. Developers can write unit tests to compensate for this but it still is “quite dangerous” because these errors can happen while the application is in production. Statically typed languages, meanwhile, have responded to the threat of scripting languages by reducing type verbosity.

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What’s new in Microsoft Visual Studio Code

Microsoft’s open source development tool is an important piece of the developer’s toolkit. Built using GitHub’s cross-platform Electron framework, Visual Studio Code is a full-featured development editor that supports a wide selection of languages and platforms, from the familiar C and C# to modern environments and languages like Go and Node.js, with parity between Windows, MacOS, and Linux releases.

Microsoft regularly updates Visual Studio Code. Keep track of the updates’ key features in this changelog.

Where to download Visual Studio Code

To download the editor for Windows, MacOS, and Linux, go to Microsoft’s Visual Code Studio website

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Beta JetBrains IDE moves Kotlin apps out of the JVM

JetBrains has made available the Kotlin/Native technology, which creates native binaries for Kotlin code so they can run without a Java virtual machine. A beta version of the CLion IDE allows Kotlin programs to be compiled directly to an executable machine-code format.

Kotlin is a statically typed JavaScript language alternative that began on the JVM. But many platforms can’t run JVMs, restricting the use of Kotlin to JVM-friendly platforms like Android. The Kotlin/Native preview’s supported target platforms include MacOS, iOS, Ubuntu Linux, and Raspberry Pi.

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