Monday Apr 15, 2013

Kotlin: A Conversation with JetBrains' Andrey Breslav

A new article, up on otn/java, by yours truly, titled “The Advent of Kotlin: A Conversation with JetBrains' Andrey Breslav,” explores the new statically typed language, Kotlin, which was named  Language of the Month in the January 2012 issue of Dr. Dobb's Journal. Kotlin is a product of the highly lauded Czech software development company, JetBrains, maker of the Java IDE IntelliJ IDEA. Project Kotlin aspires to create for developers a general-purpose language that can serve as a useful tool that is safe, concise, flexible, and 100 percent Java-compatible. Both the compiler and the IntelliJ IDEA plug-in are open source under the Apache 2 license, with source code available through GitHub.

Breslav, the lead language designer for Kotlin, discusses Kotlin's features in the interview.  Here are some things he points out:

* “Extension functions and properties in Kotlin can be added to any class/type without altering the definition of the class. This enables us to beautify even existing Java libraries so that the good old JDK looks nice and shiny.
* Higher-order functions (passing code around as values) are a lot more convenient, because Kotlin supports proper function types (as opposed to Java 8's SAM conversions that make you create a new interface every time you need a new function signature to be passed around).
* Declaration-site variance, and variant collections in particular, make common data processing much more natural by eliminating the need for ubiquitous wildcards in generic types.”

Breslav says that Kotlin promotes null safety, through nullable types and “offers control over data modification through read-only collections and data classes and enables safer runtime checks through smart casts.”

He states that Java developers who are in search of a new language will enjoy Kotlin’s clean abstractions, concise syntax, and type safety. Breslav encourages developers to download the compiler and/or a plug-in for IntelliJ IDEA, and start writing their own applications. Any feedback about what developers like and dislike, what they find difficult to understand, and how they are making use of Kotlin will be much appreciated.

Check out the article here.

Tuesday Sep 18, 2012

The 2012 JAX Innovation Awards

A new article, now up on otn/java, titled “The 2012 JAX Innovation Awards” reports on  important Java developments celebrated by the Awards, which were announced in July of 2012. The Awards, given by S&S Media Group, aim to, "Reward those technologies, companies, organizations and individuals that make outstanding contributions to Java." The Awards fall into three categories: Most Innovative Java Technology, Most Innovative Java Company, and Top Java Ambassador. In addition, a finalist who did not win an award receives a Special Jury prize, "in acknowledgement of their unique contribution and positive impact on the Java ecosystem."

The winners were: JetBrains for Most Innovative Java Company; Adam Bien as Top Java Ambassador; Restructure 101, created by Headway Software, as Most Innovative Technology; and Charles Nutter, Special Jury award. Each winner received a $2,500 prize. The five finalists in each category were invited to attend the JAX Conference in San Francisco, California. This year's winners each received a $2,500 prize.

JetBrains Fellow, Ann Oreshnikova, listed her favorite JetBrains innovations:

* Nullability annotations and nullability checker
* CamelCase navigation and completion
* Continuous Integration in grid (on multiple agents), in TeamCity
* IntelliJ Platform and its language support framework
* MPS language workbench
* Kotlin programming language

When asked what currently excites him about Java, Adam Bien, winner of the Java Ambassador Award, expressed enthusiasm over the increasing interest of smaller companies and startups for Java EE. “This is a very good sign,” he said. “Only a few years ago J2EE was mostly used by larger companies -- now it becomes interesting even for one-person shows. Enterprise Java events are also extremely popular. On the Java SE side, I'm really excited about Project Nashorn.”

Special Jury Prize Winner, Charles Nutter of Red Hat, remarked that, “JRuby seems to have hit a tipping point this past year, moving from ‘just another Ruby implementation’ to ‘the best Ruby implementation for X,’ where X may be performance, scaling, big data, stability, reliability, security, and a number of other features important for today's applications.

Check out the complete article here.
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