Paul Krill

About the Author Paul Krill


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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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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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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