Red Hat serves up red-hot Ceylon sauce

Java heir exposes its inner git


Red Hat has broadened access to Ceylon, its JVM-based programming language intended to overcome the limitations of Java.

The Red Hat team behind Ceylon has unveiled a website, ceylon-lang.org, opened up access to the Ceylon git repositories and delivered a pre-release build of an Eclipse-based IDE.

Red Hat’s Gavin King has also invited outsiders to get involved now in building Ceylon. “If you're interested in contributing to Ceylon, now is a really great time to get involved,” King said.

The community has now started taking feedback on Ceylon here and you can read more here.

The first milestone for Ceylon covers around 80 per cent of the language and the core language module: the types mentioned in the language specification. You can see the full list of milestones here.

Ceylon is billed as a statically typed, object-oriented language with syntax similar to Java and C++. King says Ceylon is deeply influenced by Java but has denied that it is a “Java killer”.

Following the initial reaction to Ceylon earlier this year, King wrote: “I never billed this as a Java Killer or the next generation of the Java language. Not my words. Ceylon isn't Java, it's a new language that's deeply influenced by Java, designed by people who are unapologetic fans of Java. Java's not dying anytime soon, so nothing's killing it.”

According to the Ceylon website, the language improves on Java by making it easier to write generic code or naturally describe treelike structures, especially user interfaces. Ceylon is also intended to be easier to understand and “less bug-prone”.

Ceylon is under a number of open-source licences: GPLv2 for the compiler with a classpath exception because it uses the OpenJDK's javac compiler, the IDE is under the Eclipse Public License 1.0, and the Apache Software License 2.0 is used for "other non-tainted parts of Ceylon".

Ceylon is the latest in a growing stable of languages being built to capitalise on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) architecture: the benefits include cross-platform portability, security and speed of performance as the JVM is the place where byte code is interpreted to execute the application.

Others include Groovy, JRuby and Scala.

Ceylon was unveiled by King in April and the project's emblem is an elephant, at least the second in a burgeoning new field of computing – the other being Hadoop's smiley baby elephant. Ceylon's elephant is called Trompon. Otherwise, Red Hat has stuck with the beverages theme, albeit going for the slow caffeine release rather and avoiding the quick-hit of the coffee family. Red Hat was behind IcedTea in 2007 to build a free and open version of the OpenJDK following Sun Microsystems' open-sourcing of Java.

King himself was behind Hibernate, the object-relational framework for Java’s Entity Beans that he started in 2001. Hibernate paved the way for persistence, allowing your application’s data to outlive the application’s specific process and work beyond the JVM. King went on to join Marc Fleury’s JBoss team, who developed, built and supported the open-source application server that disrupted the stately app server biz owned by BEA Systems, IBM and Oracle last decade before being snapped up by Red Hat in 2006. ®

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