Paul Krill

About the Author Paul Krill


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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Google releases SDK for augmented reality apps on Android

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Jenkins Blue Ocean UI to provide code quality insights

Blue Ocean, the new user interface for the popular Jenkins continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) platform, will begin incorporating insights into code quality trends and static analyses, under an improvement plan detailed this week by the project’s creator.

The goal is to improve the developer’s visibility into the health of software projects, Blue Ocean creator James Dumay, director of project management at Jenkins technology vendor CloudBees, said. Plans also call for expanding the capabilities of Blue Ocean’s visual pipeline editor to better match what is available in Jenkins’ declarative pipelines for software delivery. The development team intends to outfit Blue Ocean with these capabilities in the next six to 12 months.

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What’s new in TypeScript 2.5

TypeScript 2.5, the upcoming upgrade to Microsoft’s popular typed superset of JavaScript, is now available as a release candidate. It includes an enhancement for try/catch statements for errors as well as compiler improvements.

The catch binding parameters capability in TypeScript 2.5 uses a late-stage ECMAScript feature to make catch binding optional in try/catch statements. Making catch binding optional “means we can just omit unusedError altogether,” said Daniel Rosenwasser, Microsoft’s program manager for TypeScript. The reason for that is there are times when developers expect something might fail by throwing an error, but the developer does not care what the error is.

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What’s new in .Net’s Microsoft C# 8

Version 8 of Microsoft’s C# language will have nullable reference types, to improve code quality, according to the latest roadmap for the programming language from the .Net Foundation, which oversees the open source .Net that C# is part of. The feature will add safe reference types in addition to the existing ones that will be called non-nullable. Compilers will warn you when nullable types are dereferenced or when null is values are assigned to non-nullable variable types.

The nullable reference type is intended to help developers prevent null reference exceptions. A core of the capability is expressing an intent to be null. The compiler will recognize when something is not null and warn you when you’ve assigned null to a reference that was not declared as null. With the capability, developers get an assist in finding bugs and making them go away.

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OpenJDK may tackle Java security gaps with secretive group

To shore up Java’s security, a private group that operates outside the normal open source community process is under consideration.

The proposed OpenJDK (Java Development Kit) Vulnerability Group would provide a secure, private forum in which trusted members of the community receive reports on vulnerabilities in code bases and then review and fix them. Coordinating the release of fixes also would be part of the group’s mandate. (Java SE, the standard edition of Java, has been developed under the auspices of OpenJDK.)

The vulnerability group and Oracle’s internal security teams would work together, and it may occasionally need to work with external security organizations.

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Node.js forks again, this time over a political dispute

New dissension in the Node.js community, driven by objections to the conduct of a Node.js technical committee member, have led to another fork of the JavaScript runtime engine.

Ayo.js describes itself as  built on the Google Chrome V8 JavaScript engine. It features an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model to make it lightweight and efficient. That’s exactly how Node.js describes itself. A note on the Ayo,js GitHub repo even states a lot of the Ayo.js documentation still points at the Node.js repo.

Two years ago, the IO.js fork resulted from a dispute over technical directions in Node.js (IO.js was later merged back into Node.js), but the new Ayo.js fork seems to be the result of community infighting more than any arguments over technology. Node.js technical steering committee member Rod Vagg, chief Node officer at Node.js provider NodeSource, raised ire over his tweet supporting a code of conduct article that Node.js community members described as inflammatory. They also claimed he had interfered with the Node.js moderation process.

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Oracle doesn’t want Java EE any more

Oracle wants to end its leadership in the development of enterprise Java and is looking for an open source foundation to take on the role.

The company said today that the upcoming Java EE (Enterprise Edition) 8 presents an opportunity to rethink how the platform is developed. Although development is done via open source with community participation, the current Oracle-led process is not seen agile, flexible, or open enough. ”We believe that moving Java EE technologies to an open source foundation may be the right next step, to adopt more agile processes, implement more flexible licensing and change the governance process,” Oracle said in a statement.

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What features to expect in Apple’s Swift 5

Version 5 of Apple’s Swift language used for iOS and MacOS application development will arrive in late 2018 with ABI (application binary interface) stability in the standard Swift library a primary focus—delaying a feature originally intended for the upcoming Swift 4 release.

Locking down the ABI iin Swift 5 will mean any future compiler versions can produce binaries that conform to the stable ABI. “Once an ABI is stable, it tends to persist for the rest of the platform’s lifetime due to ever-increasing mutual dependencies,” according to Apple documentation.

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The most popular IDEs? Visual Studio and Eclipse

Microsoft’s Visual Studio leads the way in desktop IDE (integrated development environment) popularity, with Eclipse close behind, according to PYPL’s August index of IDE popularity. Android Studio was a distant third.

Visual Studio takes a 22.4 percent share in this month’s index. Eclipse follows with a 20.38 percent share. Much further back was Android Studio, with a 9.87 percent share. “It’s surprising how a couple of IDEs have about half the popularity,” PYPL’s Pierre Carbonelle said.

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Google’s Deeplearn.js brings machine learning to the browser

Google is offering an open source, hardware-accelerated library for machine learning that runs in a browser. The library is currently supported only in the desktop version of Google Chrome, but the project is working to support more devices. 

The Deeplearn.js library enables training of neural networks within a browser, requiring no software installation or back end. “A client-side ML library can be a platform for interactive explanations, for rapid prototyping and visualization, and even for offline computation,” Google researchers said. “And if nothing else, the browser is one of the world’s most popular programming platforms.”

Using the WebGL JavaScript API for 2D and 3D graphics, Deeplearn.js  can conduct computations on the GPU. This offers significant performance, thus getting past the speed limits of JavaScript, the researchers said.

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AWS unveils AI monitoring for Amazon S3

AWS launched Amazon Macie today, a service that leverages machine learning to help customers prevent inadvertent exposure of sensitive data and unauthorized access to data in Amazon S3. The company said Amazon Macie will support additional AWS storage services later this year. 

Inside the company’s S3 (Simple Cloud Storage Service) platform, Amazon Macie will use natural language processing to discover and classify sensitive data, looking at factors such as personally identifiable information, private keys, and credit card information. The Macie service will also continuously monitor data access for unusual activity. Anomalies will trigger alerts to a customer’s security team, Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence at AWS, said.

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Microsoft unveils simpler .Net Core, standard .Net APIs

Microsoft’s .Net Core 2.0, an upgrade to the company’s open source, cross-platform implementation of .Net, is becoming available today. The new release includes improvements intended to make .Net Core easier to use. It also conforms to the .Net Standard 2.0 specification designed to facilitate code sharing among .Net Framework, .Net Core, and Xamarin.

The .Net Core framework can be used to build web applications and services that run on Windows, MacOS, or Linux. Ease of use improvements in .Net Core 2.0 include making the dotnet restore command (used to install project dependencies and other tasks) implicit for commands like run, build, and publish that require it.

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GitHub’s Atom editor gets a speed boost

GitHub has just released an upgrade to its “hackable” Atom text editor, adding a native C++ buffer and rewriting the DOM interaction layer. The company also has offered a glimpse of the next version, which will improve Git integration and PHP support.

With this week’s Atom 1.19 release, a native C++ text buffer boosts responsiveness and memory usage. “Saving a file now happens asynchronously without blocking the UI, so that you can move smoothly from one task to the next,” GitHub’s Ian Olsen said. Also, large files now consume less memory.

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Google releases TensorFlow Serving library

Google has just moved to a production release of TensorFlow Serving, its open source library for serving machine-learned models in production environments. A beta version of the technology was released in February.

Part of Google’s TensorFlow machine intelligence project, the TensorFlow Serving 1.0 library is intended to aid the deployment of algorithms and experiments while maintaining the same server architecture and APIs. TensoFlow Serving lets you push out multiple versions of models over time, as well as roll them back.

The library of course integrates with TensorFlow learning models, but it can also be extended to serve other model types.

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How Google’s Go language could be improved

To improve development tools for Google’s open source Go language, Go might be getting its own language server, akin to Microsoft and Red Hat’s Language Server Protocol.

The notion came up in a Go language contributors’ discussion group, so it’s not a done deal.

The group’s consensus recommendations are:

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JetBrains ships alternative to Microsoft’s Visual Studio

JetBrains’s Rider, a cross-platform IDE that could serve as a rival to Microsoft’s own well-established Visual Studio IDE, is now generally available.

The commercially licensed Rider can be used on Windows, MacOS, and Linux systems, letting developers build applications based on ASP.Net, .Net Core, .Net Framework, Xamarin, or Unity. Rider puts JetBrains’ ReSharper .Net support in the shell of the company’s IntelliJ Idea IDE and adds the WebStorm JavaScript IDE and DataGrip database management tool. ReSharper previously was packaged as a Visual Studio extension for code analysis and instant fixes.

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Java and C hit all-time lows in Tiobe language popularity index

Java and C continue to lead the Tiobe index of programming language popularity, but both dropped to all-time lows in the just-published August release of the index.

The longtime leaders have had to share the programming landscape with a growing number of language options attracting developers, which has caused their slippage in the index. Java’s rating this month was 12.961 percent, a drop of more than six percentage points since August 2016, while C’s rating was 6.477 percent, a year-over-year drop of nearly five points. Java’s rating last month was 13.774 percent while C was rated at 7.321 percent.

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React ‘Fiber’ core rewrite progresses to beta

React 16, an upgrade to Facebook’s popular JavaScript UI library that features a rewritten core to improve animation, layout, and gesture support, has just moved to a beta release stage.

Published as an NPM module, this initial beta release is focused mainly on compatibility with existing apps, and does not yet include asynchronous rendering capabilities. Facebook has pledged to offer native-like performance with version 16 of the open source library. Previously codenamed “Fiber,” the rewritten core is intended to offer a multitude of capabilities including:

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New Node.js API will shield modules from JavaScript engine changes

Help is on the way for developers building native modules for Node.js, as well for those who want to swap out the underlying JavaScript engine powering the platform.

Currently, modules must be recompiled to work with new versions of Node.js and the JavaScript engine, which traditionally has been Google’s V8 engine. But N-API is about to make things easier by providing an API for linking in native add-ons. Independent of the underlying JavaScript runtime, N-API will be stable for the application binary interface (ABI) across Node versions, to insulate add-ons from changes in the underlying JavaScript engine. Modules compiled for one version of Node.js would then run on later versions with no need to recompile.

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New project taps Node.js for microservices API gateway

Looking to take some complexity out of microservices deployments, LunchBadger has built an open source API gateway to secure microservices and expose them via APIs. Built on the Express web application framework for Node.js, the Express Gateway routes requests to services using Node.js and Express middleware. 

Express Gateway offers centralized configuration, API consumer and credentials management, and a plug-in framework. An API gateway is the heart of microservices, LunchBadger CEO Al Tsang said. “It’s a key piece of infrastructure that you must have,” enabling microservices to work with infrastructure such as Kubernetes container orchestration, Tsang said. LunchBadger offers an API and microservices platform. Joyent also is sponsoring the gateway.

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Microsoft explores ‘safe’ manual memory management in .Net

Microsoft Research has been experimenting with integrating safe manual memory management with garbage collection (GC) in the .Net runtime. The goal is to give developers both the convenience and safety of automated memory management and the opportunity to improve performance by freeing objects from memory manually.

The effort, called Project Snowflake, is the subject of a paper published this week by Microsoft Research and co-authors from the University of Cambridge and Princeton University. With Snowflake, programmers could choose between allocating objects in the GC heap or the manual heap. Snowflake combines the open source .Net runtime with a facility to manage memory manually without compromising performance or safety. Existing applications run unmodified using the GC heap, with no performance degradation.

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Petition asks Adobe to open-source Flash

With Adobe having just announced its end-of-life schedule for the Flash rich Internet plug-in, a petition has been posted on GitHub encouraging the company to make the Flash source code available under an open source license.

The petition, posted on web developer Juha Lindstedt’s GitHub account, says open-sourcing Flash would be a good solution for keeping Flash content alive for archival purposes. “Flash is an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash Player means future generations can’t access the past. Games, experiments, and websites would be forgotten.” The petition adds that the idea was “not to save Flash Player but to open source Flash!”

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Where are the best software developers? Not Silicon Valley

When it comes to determining which state has the best developers, California, the home of Silicon Valley, might immediately come to mind. But according to technical recruiter HackerRank, the top state is Washington.

HackerRank, which offers coding skills tests, examined its own data and found Washington had the most skilled developers on the company’s platform. Right on Washington’s heels, albeit with a smaller concentration of developers, was Wyoming. Developers in these two states dominated in algorithms, the domain with the largest share of challenges solved on the company’s platform. California placed third overall and ranked in the top 10 across multiple domains.

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OWL: A ‘better’ PHP for single-server apps

PHP has been a staple of server-side web development for years. Now, a developer from Netflix is building a variation on the language that offers “the good parts” while purporting to be easier to use and more secure.

Called OWL, for OWL Web Language, the language features a JavaScript-like syntax and compiles to PHP. In a beta stage of development, OWL is best suited for single-server applications and is not intended to displace PHP. “It’s more of a new, secure interface on top of the same engine underneath,” developer Joe Lesko said. “But I could see more developers choosing OWL over raw PHP over time, especially for single-developer projects.” Ideas in OWL might even become incorporated into PHP, he said. Lesko has published instructions on getting started with OWL.

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