Paul Krill

About the Author Paul Krill


Adobe: Flash Player to reach end-of-life in 2020

In a move that should come as no surprise given the declining need for proprietary rich Internet plug-ins, Abode on Tuesday said it will cease updating and distributing its Flash Player at the end of 2020.

Content creators will instead be encouraged to migrate existing content to new, “open” formats such as HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly. Adobe cited the advent of these standards as having matured enough to provide capabilities pioneered by Flash. “Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plug-ins directly into browsers and deprecating plug-ins,” the company said.

Adobe said it will continue with development of new web standards including HTML5 while participating in the WebAssembly Community Group. Indeed, seeing the writing on the wall, Adobe has been making accommodations for HTML5 for several years now. The company’s Animate CC tool, for designing animations, supports both HTML5 and WebGL. Apple’s refusal to support Flash on its wildly popular iOS mobile platform was perhaps the watershed moment for the technology. Flash also has had its share of security issues. YouTube backed away from Flash in 2015, defaulting to HTML5.

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.Net Core 2.0 to extend coding optimizations to Linux

The next version of Microsoft’s open source, cross-platform version of the .Net software platform, .Net Core 2.0, will bring profile-guided optimization (PGO) to Linux x64. PGO is native compilation technology used by the C++ compiler to generate faster-running code. 

PGO features a two-step process, including a training run that records information about execution and a build step that uses the results of the training run to generate better optimized code, Microsoft’s Bertrand Le Roy and Daniel Podder explained in a blog post. The .Net Core 2.0 upgrade will add PGO optimizations to .Net Core on both the Windows x86 and Linux x64 platforms. PGO began working with Windows x64 in the .Net Core 1.1 release and it has been used in the Windows-based .Net Framework for years.

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Microcosm simplifies state management for React apps

Viget Labs has published a data layer for Facebook’s popular React JavaScript UI library. Called Microcosm, the open source tool manages state and data flow for React applications, keeping track of user actions even when users switch context or lose connectivity. 

Formally introduced to the public this month, Microcosm reduces the need for boilerplate code and keeps React apps organized. The company has described Microcosm as being an evolution of Facebook’s Flux application architecture for client-side web applications. Viget has been running Microcosm in production itself for two years.

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Survey says Python is tops with developers

Python, which was already surging in popularity among developers, has received another endorsement, getting the nod as the most popular tool in IT service provider Packt’s just-released developer survey.

The language is used by nearly 20 percent of respondents, giving it the top spot. The report echoes Python’s high rankings in language popularity indexes from Tiobe, PyPL, and RedMonk, which all have the language finishing in their recent top five rankings.

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Mozilla brings Python-style project documentation to JavaScript

Wanting a more full-featured documentation tool for large JavaScript projects, Mozilla has unveiled Sphinx-js, a plug-in that pulls JSDoc-formatted JavaScript documentation into the Sphinx documentation tool used in the Python world.  

Sphinx-js consumes documents and tags from the JSDoc markup language used to document JavaScript APIs and libraries. Sphinx-js delegates the parsing to JSDoc itself. The Sphinx tool, meanwhile, is used to initialize a docs folder in the root folder of your project, whereupon the plug-in is activated and you document your code using the reStructuredText plain text markup syntax and parser system.

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Go language soars to new heights in popularity

Go, Google’s open source, concurrency-friendly programming language, has soared to new heights with developers, cracking the top 10 in the Tiobe index of language popularity for the first time.

With an all-time high rating of 2.363 percent, Go ranks as the 10th most popular programming language in this month’s index, ahead of languages such as Perl, Swift, Ruby, and Visual Basic. The Tiobe Programming Community index assesses language popularity using a formula based on frequency of searches for the languages in popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Baidu, and Wikipedia.

Tiobe called Go’s latest rise an important landmark and pondered what was next. “Is Go really able to join the big stars in the programming language world and leave languages such as JavaScript and Python behind? We will see.” The language was ranked in 55th place in the index a year ago. Go’s previous high score was a 2.325 percent rating in January, when it placed 13th.

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Luna brings visual development to functional programming

Described by the creators as a developer’s whiteboard “on steroids,” the Luna functional language promises to enable application assembly by clicking and dragging visual elements together.

Expected to be released as open source when Luna reaches beta, its compiler will produce native code for the developer’s choice of Linux, MacOS, Windows, or JavaScript. The team behind Luna is seeking candidates for a private alpha release.

Luna’s creators argue that because developers typically start sketching components and dependencies on a whiteboard before coding, it doesn’t make sense to then implement that logic only in text. Software can have thousands of lines of code distributed in hundreds of files, which can trip up the implementation of that visual data flow and application architecture. Tools such as UML architecture diagrams only deal with the symptoms and not the problem’s source, Luna’s creators argue.

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Eclipse gets ready for Java 9 with Oxygen release train

The Eclipse Foundation’s annual release train, featuring simultaneous updates to dozens of projects, has just arrived, featuring preliminary Java 9 support. Called Oxygen, the release train covers 83 projects and includes 71 million lines of code.

Here are the key updates in Oxygen:

  • Java 9 support remains in beta stage, because Java 9 itself will not be made available until Java Development Kit 9 ships on September 21. Oxygen’s Java 9 support includes the ability to add the Java Runtime Environment for Java 9 as the installed JRE as well as backing for the Java 9 execution environment. Developers also can create Java and plug-in projects using Java 9 and compile modules that are part of a Java project. Eclipse’s signature Java IDE has been enhanced as well, with improvements to the UI.
  • Eclipse Linux Tools 6.0 updates Docker Tools with more security options. This project provides a C/C++ IDE for Linux developers.
  • Eclipse PDT (PHP Development Tools) 5.0 supports the 7.1 version of PHP, which offers nullable types and a void return type.
  • The Eclipse Sirius 5.0 platform for building domain-specific modeling tools, with usability enhancements.
  • Eclipse EGit 4.8.0, offering performance and usability for the Java implementation of Git code management integration for Eclipse.

Focused on open source tools, Eclipse has offered annual release trains every June since 2006, letting developers coordinate upgrades or new releases of multiple projects. Last year’s release train, Neon, offered tools for Docker and JavaScript. June 2018’s release is slated to be called Neon.

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The road to Java 9: Modular Java finally gets OK’d

Modularity, a key but highly controversial feature of the upcoming Java 9 release, looks to be back on track with the Java community’s adoption of a proposal that had failed in an initial vote weeks earlier.

With new round of voting completed this week, the Java Community Process Executive Committee passed by a 24-0 vote the Java Platform Module System public review ballot, the subject of Java Specification Request 376.

In May, the same group, citing concerns over the plan being disruptive and lacking consensus, voted the measure down, 13 to 10. In the aftermath, Java Development Kit 9, where the module system was to be delivered, was postponed from July 27 to September 21.

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Progressive web apps challenge native mobile apps

Native mobile apps have generally had the edge when it comes to user experience over web-based apps. But the tide is turning, with progressive web apps — a technology spearheaded by Google and Mozilla—catching on at major web properties and developer tools becoming available.

“We’re starting to see a lot of large companies come back to the web because of its low friction,” said Addy Osmani, an engineering manager on Google’s Chrome team. He cited Lyft and Twitter as examples.

Twitter’s progressive web app, Twitter Lite, takes up less than 1MB of memory, compared to more than 100MB for its native iOS app and 23MB for its native Android app, Osmani said. The client-side JavaScript app uses less data and supports push notifications and offline use.

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The road to Java 9: Only critical bugs getting fixed now

With the initial release candidate build for Java 9 now published, Oracle has proposed that from here on out, only “showstopper” bugs be fixed for the production Java 9 release, which is due September 21.

The proposal floated this week represents a further tightening up of bug-fixing goals for RDP (Rampdown Phase) 2 of the Java upgrade. The plan calls for fixing all P1 (Priority 1) bugs critical to the success of Java Development Kit (JDK) 9. Also, builders would decommit from fixing any bugs not new in JDK 9 and not critical to the release, even if they had been targeted for fixing.

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Ruby’s decline in popularity may be permanent

Ruby has had a reputation as a user-friendly language for building web applications. But its slippage in this month’s RedMonk Programming Language Rankings has raised questions about where exactly the language stands among developers these days.

The twice-yearly RedMonk index ranked Ruby at eighth, the lowest position ever for the language. “Swift and now Kotlin are the obvious choices for native mobile development. Go, Rust, and others are clearer modern choices for infrastructure,” said RedMonk analyst Stephen O’Grady. “The web, meanwhile, where Ruby really made its mark with Rails, is now an aggressively competitive and crowded field.”

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Ruby’s decline in popularity may be permanent

Ruby has had a reputation as a user-friendly language for building web applications. But its slippage in this month’s RedMonk Programming Language Rankings has raised questions about where exactly the language stands among developers these days.

The twice-yearly RedMonk index ranked Ruby at eighth, the lowest position ever for the language. “Swift and now Kotlin are the obvious choices for native mobile development. Go, Rust, and others are clearer modern choices for infrastructure,” said RedMonk analyst Stephen O’Grady. “The web, meanwhile, where Ruby really made its mark with Rails, is now an aggressively competitive and crowded field.”

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CheerpJ converts Java apps into JavaScript for the web

Melding Java and web development, CheerpJ is being readied as compiler technology that takes Java bytecode and turns it into JavaScript, for execution in browsers. Based on the LLVM/Clang compiler platform as well as Learning Technologies’ own Cheerp C++-to-JavaScript compiler, CheerpJ takes Java bytecode and turns it into JavaScript without needing the Java source.

In CheerpJ, applications and Java libraries are converted to web applications, so there is no need for plug-ins or Java installations. Server-side Java components can become client-side browser-based libraries while native Java code serves as platform-independent components for the Node.js server-side JavaScript platform.

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JVM may get upgrade to support today’s multicore processors

Oracle is proposing an update to the Java Virtual Machine to allow for direct-value class types, a modernization required by the advent of multicore processors. There is no schedule for when the changes might appear in the JVM.

The changes to the JVM specification would support a prototype of value classes—classes for which primitive-like non-reference value instances can be created and acted upon. “The proposals for value types in Java are about giving developers the alternative to give up identity and polymorphism so that the runtime can represent the underlying data in a way which is both far more compact and much better suited for processing in bulk operations,” said Georges Saab, Oracle’s vice president of software development in the Java platform group.

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What’s new in Google’s Go 1.9 language

The next version of Google’s popular Go language will improve performance, compilation, and scaling to large code bases. Go 1.9 should be released in August.

Go 1.9’s creators expect almost all Go programs to run as they did before, given the focus on maintaining compatibility in this latest release. 

Here’s what’s new and improved:

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