Paul Krill

About the Author Paul Krill


What’s new in TypeScript 2.7

Microsoft has moved TypeScript 2.7 to a release candidate stage, with general availability of the new version expected in a few weeks. TypeScript 2.7 brings three noteworthy improvements: definite assignment checks for class properties, fixed length tuples, and improved narrowing for the in and instanceof operators. 

With fixed length tuples, Microsoft notes, “tuple types now encode their arity [i.e. the number of elements they include] into the the type of their respective length property, and tuples of different types are no longer assignable to each other.” This is a breaking change.

TypeScript 2.7 also is slated to add refactoring of the CommonJS module to ECMAScript 6, with this being the version of the standard JavaScript specification approved by ECMA International in 2015.

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Firefox speeds up WebAssembly through streaming compilation

Mozilla’s Firefox 58 browser, to be released January 23, features a compilation technology designed to make the WebAssembly portable code format run even faster.

This performance boost is enabled by streaming compilation, in which the browser compiles WebAssembly code even as it is being downloaded. Code begins compiling sooner and thus finishes executing sooner. Firefox 58 also features a new two-tiered compiler, with a new baseline compiler that compiles code 10 to 15 faster than the optimizing compiler.

The combination of streamed and two-tiered compilation results in WebAssembly code being compiled faster than it can be delivered by the network. Mozilla notes that, on a desktop computer, it has been able to compile 30 to 60 megabytes of WebAssembly code per second. On an “average” mobile device, WebAssembly code compiles at 8 megabytes per second, which is still faster than the download speed for just about any mobile network, said Lin Clark, Mozilla senior evangelist.

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What’s new in AWS Lambda: Go and .Net Core support

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What’s new in the Erlang VM-based Elixir language

Version 1.6 of Elixir, a dynamic functional language that uses Erlang VM, will have improvements for code formatting and compiler diagnostics. The production version should be avaliable in late January.

Intended for the development of easily scalable and maintainable applications, the open source Erlang code runs in lightweight execution threads that are isolated; information is exchanged among these threads through messaging.

Where to download Elixir

You can install Elixir from GitHub. The Elixir source code is on GitHub as well.

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React JavaScript library on the rise in NPM registry

Judging by downloads from the NPM registry, React, Facebook’s popular JavaScript UI library, has seen good fortunes lately as a front-end JavaScript framework while the Backbone framework has slipped. On the back end, Express dominates.

In a study of 28-day download cycles for front-end JavaScript frameworks, NPM, which oversees the popular JavaScript package registry, found that React has been on a steady upward trajectory; it now accounts for about 0.05 percent of the registry’s 13 billion downloads per month as of the fourth quarter of 2017. Web developers as well as desktop and mobile developers are adopting the library and it has spawned an ecosystem of related packages.

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What’s new in ECMAScript 2018

ECMAScript, the standard specification underlying JavaScript, is on track for a new release, likely in June.

So far, two proposals have been finalized for inclusion in the ECMAScript 2018 specification. Both are considered as fairly foundational work and not major features, said Zibi Braniecki, a senior software engineer at Mozilla who participates in the development of ECMAScript.

The two proposals include:

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What’s next for the Aurelia JavaScript framework

This should be a busy year for Aurelia, a JavaScript client framework that emphasizes use of focused modules. It is being groomed for improvements ranging from server-side rendering to state management.

Developers of the project also have ambitions to improve the platform’s user experience framework, Aurelia UX. A full conversion of Aurelia to TypeScript is being considered as well, although that could happen after 2018.

Sponsored by Blue Spire, Aurelia features a collection of open source modules and is intended for developing mobile, desktop, and browser apps. The framework has been forked roughly 600 times in GitHub and has more than 10,000 stars in that venue.

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NectarJS to offer JavaScript compilation-as-a-service

Can JavaScript become a universal language for developing for multiple form factors? The inventor of NectarJS, a compiler-as-a-service cloud application now in development, claims NectarJS will make this happen.

Currently in alpha release, NectarJS would have developers code in JavaScript for multiple platforms, including the internet of things, various operating systems, and the WebAssembly portable code format. Web developers could thus become low-level software programmers, claims Seraum, the company behind NectarJS.

How NectarJS works

NectarJS uses a multistep process:

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What’s new in Ruby 2.5

Ruby, one of the more venerable dynamic languages, has just gained in performance with the new 2.5 release.

Arriving on Christmas Day 2017, Ruby 2.5.0 is the first stable release in the 2.5 series.

New performance features in Ruby 2.5

It boosts performance by 5 to 10 percent by removing trace instructions from bytecode that has been found to be overhead. A dynamic instrumentation technique is used instead. Also, block passing by a block parameter has been made three times faster than it was in Ruby 2.4, through use of the Lazy Proc allocation technique.

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C completes comeback in programming popularity

The once-declining C language has completed a comeback in the monthly Tiobe Index of language popularity, winning the 2017 Programming Language of the Year designation from Tiobe as the biggest gainer in share.

Although the language only grew 1.69 percentage points in its rating year over year in the January index, that was enough beat out runners-up Python (1.21 percent gain) and Erlang (0.98 percent gain). Just five months ago, C was at its lowest-ever rating, at 6.477 percent; this month, its rating is 11.07 percent, once again putting it in second place behind Java (14.215 percent)—although Java dropped 3.05 percent compared to January 2017. C’s revival is possibly being fueled by its popularity in manufacturing and industry, including the automotive market, Tiobe believes.

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Troubled jQuery mobile and UI projects seek new participants

Proponents of the jQuery Mobile web framework and the jQuery UI widgets and themes collection are looking for new blood to revive these stalled projects, which are to be combined into a single effort.

The past few years have been “difficult” for both projects, said Alex Schmitz, who has become the new project lead. Both projects have suffered from a lack of resources and funding as well a loss of contributors. “These combined factors have nearly stopped development on both projects,” he said.

To best use available resources, the two project teams will be combined, although separate repositories will exist for the mobile and UI projects. Participants are hoping for a continued reduction in the amount of duplicated code and widgets. JQuery Mobile would eventually be made into a more of an application framework with all widgets living in jQuery UI. People interested in participating in these projects can join a new public Slack channel set up for that purpose.

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What’s new in HTML5.2

HTML5.2, an upgrade to the core HTML5 specification providing the structure of webpages, is now released by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and includes enhancements for security and commerce.

The specification, referred to by W3C as a recommendation, offers an updated, stable guide to HTML. Along with new capabilities, it has bug fixes and removes technologies no longer considered part of the modern web platform.

New features and other changes in HTML5.2

The key new capabilities in HTML5.2 include:

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Compiler to convert Go language to JavaScript

Developers wanting to use the Google Go language, aka Golang, for web programming can try the beta open source Joy compiler, which promises—when it reaches production release—to turn Go code into JavaScript code.

With Joy, idiomatic Go code will be translated into JavaScript that will work in every browser (as ECMAScript 3 code, with ECMAScript 5 code on the roadmap as well), the open source project claims. It also means JavaScript developers will be able to use Go’s type system and tools. Joy project creator Matthew Mueller says the Go-to-JavaScript translation work is about 90 percent complete.

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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

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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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