Paul Krill

About the Author Paul Krill


What’s in store for the next Java

Fresh from the long-awaited release of Java Development Kit (JDK) 9 on September 21, Oracle is mapping out planned upgrades for Java, including for the Java 18.3 version due in March 2018 as part of a new, six-month release schedule for standard Java.

Here is what Oracle has said is under consideration for the next and later versions of Java SE:

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Under Eclipse, changes to Java EE begin

As part of the change in ownership of Java EE (Enterprise Edition) from Oracle to the Eclipse Foundation, how Java EE works and is managed are starting to change.

For one, Oracle is making the Java EE technology compatibility kits (TCK), which ascertain if an implementation is compliant with Java, available via open source. Eclipse Executive Director Milinkovich called this “a very fundamental change to the dynamics of this ecosystem.”

Under the open-sourcing of the TCKs, users themselves can test for compliance instead of relying on what Milinkovich termed the previous “pay-to-play model” to confirm compliance—with Oracle using the TCKs as a way to exercise control over the Java EE ecosystem, he said. This open-sourcing of the TCKs should hopefully bring other providers to Java EE table, building implementations, Milinkovich added.

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Oracle joins the serverless fray with Fn

With its open source Fn project, Oracle is looking to make a splash in serverless computing.

Fn is a container native serverless platform that can be run on-premises or in the cloud. It requires the use of Docker containers. Fn developers will be able to write functions in Java initially, with Go, Ruby, Python, PHP, and Node.js support planned for later. Applications can be built and run without users having to provision, scale, or manage servers, by using the cloud.

Fn, as its name implies, relies heavily on functions, which are small blocks of code that generally do one simple thing. In a function, developers focus just on just the task they want the function to perform.

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Java debugging comes to Visual Studio Code

Microsoft has released a Java debugger for its free open source editor, Visual Studio Code. The newly minted extension is intended to work as a companion to the Language Support for Java extension provided by Red Hat.  

Whereas Red Hat’s Language Support for Java extension provides IntelliSense capabilities and Java project support, it does not include debugging capabilities. Microsoft’s Java Debug Extension works with previous Red Hat’s extension to provide them. Still in a preview mode, the Java Debug Extension offers capabilities including launch/attach, breakpoints, control flow, data inspection, and a debug console. The Microsoft and Red Hat extensions are available separately or in the Java Extension Pack, which bundles both together in a single install. Microsoft’s plans call for enabling a modern workflow for Java, with more features and extensions planned going forward.

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Giraffe brings F# functional programming to ASP.Net Core

Giraffe, a micro web framework based on the F# language, is bringing functional-style programming to the development of web services on ASP.Net Core. Although F# is already supported in ASP.Net Core, Giraffe puts greater emphasis on the functional programming style by leveraging features such as higher-order functions. 

Likened to the Suave web server but specifically designed to work with Microsoft’s ASP.Net Core web framework, Giraffe is described as a native functional framework for building rich web applications that draws on advanced F# features. F# is an open source functional-first language that Microsoft created to address complex computing problems while producing simple, maintainable code.

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Google App Engine adds support for Java 8

Google has made the Java 8 runtime generally available on App Engine, the Google Cloud Platform’s development platform service. Google said the upgrade removes performance limitations Java developers have had to deal with when using the Java 7 runtime. Java 7 remains a supported option. 

“Unfortunately, using Java 7 on App Engine standard environment also required compromises, including limited Java classes, unusual thread execution, and slower performance because of sandboxing overhead,” said Amir Rouzrokh, Google product manager.

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What’s new in React 16 JavaScript UI library

React 16, the latest version of the popular JavaScript library for building UIs, goes live today, with a rewritten core for better performance.

Dubbed “React Fiber” during its development, React 16 is a rewrite of the React core, improving perceived responsiveness for complex applications via a new reconciliation algorithm.

Key features of the React 16 include:

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Facebook buckles under pressure over hated React license

Under pressure from organizations such as the Apache Software Foundation, Facebook is changing the licensing of its open source React JavaScript UI library to one considered less risky for developers.

Beginning with next week’s React 16 release, React will be licensed under the MIT open source license. A point release of React 15 also will be offered next week based on the MIT license.

That change in license removes a controversial term in the BSD + Patents license that Facebook had been using for React. The BSD + Patent license stipulates that anyone using software released under it loses the license if they sue Facebook for patent infringement.

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What’s new in Apple’s Swift 4.0 language

Swift 4.0 is now available. It’s a major upgrade to Apple’s Swift, the three-year old successor to the Objective-C language used for MacOS and iOS application development.

The Swift 4 upgrade enhances the Swift Package Manager and provides new compatibility modes for developers. Apple said Swift 4 also makes Swift more stable and improves its standard library. Swift 4 is largely source-compatible with Swift 3 and ships as part of Apple’s Xcode 9 IDE.

What’s new in Swift 4’s package manager

Swift Package Manager, which debuted in Swift 3, is tool for distributing code. It is integrated with the Swift build system to automate processes including downloading, compiling, and linking of dependencies. Improvements in Swift 4’s package manager include:

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IBM open-sources a microservices-friendly Java app server

A few weeks ago, Nginx released its multilanguage microservices-friendly app server, but without Java support at launch. Now IBM has a beta build of its own microservices-friendly app server for Java applications: the open source Open Liberty, which implements IBM’s version of Java EE and MicroProfile microservices implementation.

Open Liberty will provide a runtime supporting Java microservices that can be quickly updated and moved among different cloud environments. When combined with the Eclipse OpenJ9 Java Virtual Machine, OpenLiberty will provide a full Java stack, IBM said. (OpenJ9 had been IBM’s J9 JVM, which it contributed to the Eclipse Foundation that now manages Java EE.)

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Forget PHP! Facebook’s HHVM engine switches to Hack instead

Facebook’s Hip Hop Virtual Machine (HHVM), a speedy engine for PHP, will not target PHP 7, the most-recent major PHP release, but instead will focus on Hack, a PHP spinoff.

The next long-term support release of HHVM, version 3.24, is due in early 2018 and will be the last to commit to PHP 5 support. 

“Trying to support both PHP 7 and Hack would lead to undesirable compromises on both fronts. We plan to decouple ourselves even more from PHP so that we can make Hack great without having to account for all of the oldest, darkest corners of PHP’s design,” the team HHVM team said.

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CoffeeScript 2 arrives with JavaScript syntax improvements

CoffeeScript, a simple languages that compiles to JavaScript and aims to make web developers’ lives easier, has just moved to a second major release, one that emphasizes syntax improvements. 

CoffeeScript 2, which had been in a beta stage since April, features a compiler that translates CoffeeScript code into modern JavaScript syntax. A CoffeeScript “class” is now output using the class keyword, for example. Version 2 also features support for async functions syntax, the future object destructuring syntax, and JSX, which is JavaScript with interspersed XML elements.

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Angular 5 JavaScript framework delayed

Angular 5, the next version of the popular Google-developed JavaScript framework, was to have debuted this month. But the release is now set to arrive October 23, because Google needs more time to work on the upgrade process.

As a result of Angular 5’s delay, Angular 6 should arrive in March or April 2018, followed by Angular 7 in September or October 2018. Each version is promised to be backward-compatible with the prior release.

Angular 5’s promised capabilities include building progressive web apps as well as a build optimizer and accommodations for Material Design components.

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Eclipse eclipses Visual Studio as most popular IDE

The Eclipse IDE, popular with Java developers, has displaced Microsoft’s Visual Studio as the most popular desktop IDE in the PyPL Top IDE index of September.

While Visual Studio was tops in the August version of the PyPL Top IDE index, it dropped to second place this month behind Eclipse, with Eclipse showing a 24.23 percent share and Visual Studio a 21.77 percent share. Similar to PyPL’s monthly language index, the Top IDE index is based on how often IDEs are searched on in Google, with raw data coming from Google Trends.

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Iroh brings dynamic code analysis to JavaScript

Static analysis tools reveal potential bugs by spotting common coding mistakes. But you never really know what your code will do until you run it. An open source tool called Iroh.js, currently in beta development, allows JavaScript developers to perform dynamic code analysis to see exactly how their code behaves at execution.

Iroh enables developers to record code flow in real time. It also can intercept runtime information and manipulate program behavior on the fly. Runtime values such as parameters or variables can be captured while code is running. “You can, for example, collect type information and even manipulate the running program because of the access to all runtime data,” developer Felix Maier said. 

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Unwanted by Oracle, Java EE gets adopted by Eclipse

The Eclipse Foundation is set to become the new steward of enterprise Java, taking over from Oracle, which no longer wants to manage Java EE.

As part of the adoption, Java EE will likely get a new name, something Oracle recommended in its proposal to have a foundation adopt Java EE.

A month ago, Oracle said it would end its stewardship role of Java EE and turn it over to an open source foundation. Following consultations with Java partners such as IBM and Red Hat and after meeting with several foundations, Oracle has settled on an organization that has had a long history in Java development: the Eclipse Foundation. Eciipse created its popular Eclipse IDE and managed multiple other Java technologies.

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GitHub is converting its Atom text editor into an IDE

Atom, GitHub’s text editor built on the Electron framework, is being fitted with IDE-like capabilities as a precursor to making the editor a full-fledged IDE.

The first step in Atom’s transition from text editor to IDE is an optional package of features developed with Facebook called Atom-IDE.

The package includes:

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What’s new in JUnit 5 for Java testing

The JUnit testing framework for Java has just moved to version 5. Unlike previous releases, JUnit 5 features modules from several subprojects, including:

  • Platform, for launching testing frameworks on the JVM and defining the TestEngine API via a command line.
  • Jupiter, for programming and extension models for writing tests and extensions and then (via plugins) building them within JUnit, Gradle, or Maven.
  • Vintage, for running JUnit 3 and 4 tests on the JUnit 5 platform.

In Jupiter, a developer can use annotations as meta-annotations, in which you define an annotation that automatically inherits the semantics of meta-annotations—a new programming model in JUnit. Also, Jupiter lets test constructors and methods to have parameters, allowing for more flexibility and enabling dependency injection for constructors and methods.

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AssemblyScript compiles TypeScript to WebAssembly

A project called AssemblyScript is providing a bridge between WebAssembly, the portable binary code format designed to make web applications run faster, and TypeScript, Microsoft’s typed JavaScript superset. 

A subset of TypeScript itself, AssemblyScript gives developers with a background in TypeScript and standard JavaScript APIs a way to compile to WebAssembly. The project is currently characterized as being in a beta state of development by its main developer, Daniel Wirtz. “My aim [with AssemblyScript] is to create something simple, i.e. something you can ‘npm install’ to compile to WebAssembly instead of installing and setting up more complex tool chains,” he said.

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Oracle: Java 9 will not receive long-term support

Oracle’s revamped release plan for standard Java means the upcoming Java Development Kit 9 will not be designated for long-term support. Nevertheless, the company believes developers will want it for the new capabilities it brings.

Under a plan put forth by Oracle on September 6, there will be feature releases of Java, driven by one or a few significant new features, every six months. Every three years, the feature release will be a long-term support release, with the next long-term support release, to be called Java 18.9, arriving in September 2018. (The version designation of 18.9 stipulates the year and month of the release’s arrival.) Under the plan, Java 9 is relegated to feature release status.

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Java 9 will not receive long-term support

Oracle’s revamped release plan for standard Java means the upcoming Java Development Kit 9 will not be designated for long-term support. Under this new regime, Java 9 is not the first long-term support release on which the first wave of twice-yearl “feature” releases is to be based on, but instead is the first “feature” release, with Java 8 as the base.

Under a plan put forth by Oracle on September 6, there will be feature releases of Java, driven by one or a few significant new features, every six months. Every three years, the feature release will be a long-term support release, with the next long-term support release, to be called Java 18.9, arriving in September 2018. (The version designation of 18.9 stipulates the year and month of the release’s arrival.)

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Yarn 1.0 simplifies JavaScript dependency management

Facebook’s Yarn, an alternative JavaScript package manager to NPM, has reached a 1.0 release, which features a workspaces capability to ensure the latest code is being used on engineering projects.

With workspaces, users transition their code base into a “mono-repository” to ensure that the most recent code gets used. Workspaces aggregate dependencies from package.json files and install them all at once. Also featured in Yarn 1.0 is auto-merging of lock files, whereby Yarn automatically resolves merge conflicts in lock files when working with multiple contributors pulling the same code.

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Why Python and C# can’t displace Java, C, or C++

Although Java, C, and C++ have seen drops in language popularity, they once again remain atop the Tiobe language popularity index, which uses the number of developers, courses, and vendors for each language to calculate its popularity. Their two main contenders—Python and C#—face obstacles that may keep them in the second tier.

Python actually slipped 1.32 points from its rating a year ago, while C# slipped 0.71 points in the same period.

Python and C# have long been poised to become the next big programming languages, but that hasn’t happened so far because of their limitations, notes the Tiobe report’s authors: “C# is not a Top 3 language because its adoption in the non-Windows world is still low. Python on the other hand is dynamically typed, which is a blocker for most large and/or critical software systems to use it.”

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Microservices: Nginx forges multilanguage app server

Nginx has introduced an application server for microservices environments. The open source Nginx Unit is designed for environments where developers use multiple languages in their deployments. It’s typical in microservices to use multiple languages and thus have multiple software stacks to manage and control, the company says.

In its beta release this week, Nginx Unit supports Google Go, PHP, and Python. Java and Node.js support will be added later, and support for Ruby is under consideration.

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Nginx forges multilanguage app server for microservices

Nginx has introduced an application server for microservices environments. The open source Nginx Unit is designed for environments where developers use multiple languages in their deployments. It’s typical in microservices to use multiple languages and thus have multiple software stacks to manage and control, the company says.

In its beta release this week, Nginx Unit supports Google Go, PHP, and Python. Java and Node.js support will be added later, and support for Ruby is under consideration.

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The road to Java 9: Twice-yearly releases are coming

Oracle will speed up the releases of standard Java, with a new release Java Development Kit (JDK) coming every six months and a long-term support version that gets updated every three years. As a result, the next version of Java will be released in March 2018, six months after this month’s planned Java 9 release.

Until now, Oracle has delivered major releases of Java every two years or so, anchored by a major feature or two. But that anchor-feature-driven approach has caused delays in the upcoming JDK 9, which is finally due to arrive on September 21 after being stalled by development of its complex modularity feature.

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