Ceylon Moves To Eclipse
Ceylon Moves To Eclipse
Written by Alex Armstrong   
Monday, 21 August 2017

Ceylon was Redhat's Java killer. Of course, it didn't kill anything much and now it has been "donated" to the Eclipse foundation. You can view this as a positive or a negative step depending on your outlook. What you can't avoid is the simple fact that building a Java killer is too easy and there are too many of them.

What can you say about Ceylon?

It is a fairly decent design of a language. It is statically and strongly typed and make a thing out of immutability. It has a range of "nice" features but arguably no nicer than alternative JVM languages including the forthcoming Java 9. Many Java killer after all are still chasing the shortcomings of Java 7 or earlier. Java is catching up and becoming a Java killer in its own right - if such a thing makes any sense.

The main characteristic of Ceylon was that it wasn't radical. It just improved on Java and added some modern features such as first class functions and this is more or less a description of Kotlin and a few others. Ceylon was from Red Hat and Kotlin from JetBrains both similar as languages and as cooperate tools and neither looked like they had much chance in taking over from Java. Then Kotlin was taken up by Google as an alternative to Java for Android development and Kotlin now looks like a much better chance for the future. You could say in the fight between Ceylon and Kotlin, Koltin won with the help of Google. Not that you have to see this as a competition and not that Kotlins promotion is the reason for Ceylon moving to Eclipse.

Red Hat also has Java-, or rather JVM-, based interests before Ceylon was thought up. Ceylon's modules were JBoss modules, for instance, and this might have been the source of at least some of hte difficulties with respect to Java 9's Jigsaw module project.

The blog post announcing the move suggests that Red Hat didn't see Ceylon as a business opportunity:

"The Red Hat brand is a synonym for open-source, quality, and community trust. But we've also had a growing fear that the strong association with just one company may have been holding back our community. We've always seen this project as "neutral ground", not as a vehicle for the business goals of one company, but we're not sure if the project is perceived that way from outside."

It was more that Google had languages, Go and Dart, Microsoft had lots of languages, Mozilla had Rust and even tiny Jet Brains had Kotlin so mightily Red Hat needed a language as well. If anything, though, Red Hat didn't really make enough commercial noise about Ceylon. It didn't use it for any big projects and didn't really seem to see it as key to anything much.

ceylon2

 

It seems all too reasonable that it should be moved to Eclipse, but not entirely obvious why Eclipse wants it.

"This move has now been in the works for several months, since it took time to get all the necessary legal approvals, and then the final approval from the Eclipse Foundation board. But at last we're ready to make the initial code contribution."

The Eclipse Ceylon web page says:

"The Eclipse Ceylon project encompasses development of the language itself (the language specification), the compiler frontend (typechecker), the compiler backends for Java and JavaScript, the module system, the command-line tooling, the SDK, and the Eclipse-based IDE. A future direction is tooling for Eclipse Che. The project also maintains the website and documentation for the language."

and

"We believe that joining the Eclipse Community will help Ceylon become even more popular with contributors and users alike."

Well you would expect optimism at this stage of the game, but there are Eclipse projects and sub-projects that nothing much happens in and even the main Eclipse project, the IDE, doesn't seem to have the vigor it once had. And who has heard of Eclipse Che? It's a worthy project but not one that is making headlines.

It also worthy of note that Eclipse used to be the main Android development IDE, but Google moved to Android Studio based on IntelliJ from JetBrains - anyone notice a pattern here?

I wish Ceylon well, but as far as I can tell it is a language in need of a reason to exist.

ceyloneclipse

More Information

Ceylon to move to the Eclipse Foundation

Eclipse Ceylon

Related Articles

Ceylon 1.3

Ceylon 1.1.0 And Ceylon IDE 1.1 Released

Ceylon 1.0.0 Released

 

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