Ceylon Achieves Milestone 1
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Thursday, 22 December 2011

Milestone 1 of Ceylon includes a reasonably complete and stable specification and a complete command line toolset (compiler, runtime, documentation compiler). A compatible release of the team’s Eclipse-based IDE is coming soon.

Red Hat’s open source "alternative" to Java, Ceylon, has reached its first milestone, one of the five set by Red Hat for the language to pass on its way to Version 1.0, though the developers say that the current version already has 80 percent of the functionality that will be in the Ceylon 1.0.

 

ceylon1

 

According to the Ceylon website, Milestone 1 includes a reasonably complete and stable specification and a complete command line toolset (compiler, runtime, documentation compiler). A compatible release of the team’s Eclipse-based IDE is coming soon.

In terms of the language, Milestone 1 requires the language to support expressions, basic procedural code, basic object orientation, basic generics including variance, validation of definite assignment/initialization and definite return, exceptions, and modularity.

The idea that Red Hat was developing an alternative to Java raised a lot of eyebrows when it was first announced, mainly on the ‘why on earth would they do that’ front. The rationale behind the project is to come up with a language that keeps the best bits of Java but improves on the less positive elements - what the Ceylon team describes as 

“things that in our experience are annoying, tedious, frustrating, difficult to understand, or bugprone”.

It is also intended to provide better support for writing generic code (frameworks or libraries), or to naturally describe treelike structures (especially user interfaces).

Since Ceylon was announced there have been so many other new languages launched by high profile entities that it looks even more like a project that would need a lot of luck to succeed - Kotlin, Go, Dart, Rust, ... - not all alternatives to Java true but still competing for attention. Even the language it is intended to replace is now evolving at a rate that might well make alternatives look unnecessary. (See:Why We Don't Need Even More Programming Languages.)

Ceylon has an Eclipse-based development environment that you can use to make use of Ceylon’s static type system, and apps written in Ceylon can execute on any JVM, so there isn’t the usual disadvantage of new languages of worrying about how you’re actually going to get your app running on other machines. You’ll find the syntax is equally un-challenging, as it is ultimately derived from C. One of the goals of the Ceylon team is for most code to be immediately readable to people who aren't Ceylon programmers, and who haven't studied the syntax of the language. You can check out the language specification here, and there’s an introductory tutorial

 

ceylon2

 

If you fancy trying Ceylon, you can download it here in ZIP format, or packaged for Fedora/Red Hat or Debian/Ubuntu. There’s also a pre-release version of the Ceylon IDE as an Eclipse plug-in, and the Milestone 1 version is due ‘any day now’.

 

More Information:

Ceylon.org

Ceylon - a new Java killer?

Ceylon Language Website Launched

Why We Don't Need Even More Programming Languages

 

 

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