Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kotlin, Unix Philosophy, Cypher and loads of tech stuff to read

There are so many JVM based languages out there and yet none of them seem to be able to take over from good old (has it really been that long) Java. From my point of view (I'm sure it's shared by many others) most of these languages like Scala, JRuby, Groovy, Gosu, Clojure, Ceylon etc feel too far away from the center. They either propose radical syntax and idioms, seem overly clever, too flexible and hence not clear/safe for the average developer, or just not performant enough.

Take Scala for example. If you pay no heed to the sensation Yammer's leaked email to TypeSafe caused and just read between the lines, there are some very real truths there about what a large population of developers, team leads, managers expect from a language before they can invest time, training, money, people and their careers into it.

Which is why, I find JetBrain's Kotlin and to some extent for non-server side Google's Dart to be promising. Neither of these languages are about revolutionary/radical new concepts or "paradigm" shifts (ahem) nor do they hide their Java roots. Dart is definitely not JVM based but neither is Kotlin planning to stick to just the JVM (LLVM plans). They are both intended to be evolutionary cleanups with some state of the art language features. Only time will tell if they succeed.

To add to our distractions we have Node.js with some appeal if you are just out of school and easily impressed or have a very specific need. Sigh...I'm already sounding like a weather beaten veteran who's seen too many "flash in the pans".

If you didn't know and are wondering what the actual JVM team has been doing in response to the demand from these new JVM-based languages in Java 7, here's a hint (JSR 292, MethodHandles, InvokeDynamic ..). Be warned, this is not for the faint of heart.

Enough of that. Now on to BloomFilters, a wonderful data structure heavily used by all NoSQL systems like Hive, Cassandra etc. Here's a very nice visualization.

I've written about Neo4J the graph database before. I really like the concept but I haven't found an excuse yet (partially because it's LGPL) to use it. They even have a nicely done graph access language, sort of like SQL for graphs called Cypher. Here's a nice demo of Neo4J, Gephi and spatial data. Makes sense for desktop use but I don't know if they have many server/enterprise grade users with many concurrent transactions.

If you are looking for some general tech reading, like while on a place, here's a nice set of essays (also a book) - The Architecture of Open Source Applications.

Speaking of Open Source, I had not read or heard about The Unix Philosophy. I like the simplicity and focus. Obviously it has had great success but it applies to other software too. Sort of like Deiter Rams ideas on design but for software.

If you've made it till here and are dying for some hard core tech, then here's some on CAS concurrency, Azul's proposed Linux kernel patch and thread affinity.

These days, any blog is incomplete without mention of BigData. So, here's some BigData reading material - slides from the Cassandra 2011 summit.



Anonymous said...

Hi Ashwin,

Gosu is also an evolutionary language, choosing to innovate largely below the syntactic level (e.g. The Open Typesystem). It was designed for business software by java developers, and is in production at some very large companies.

We are very close to the another release, which will, I hope, make it much easier for Java developers to try Gosu out. I recognize, of course, that the chance of widespread adoption is vanishingly small, but just wanted to mention that we are coming from a very pragmatic standpoint.

Agree entirely with your article, particularly the shot at Node.js. ;)


Ashwin Jayaprakash said...

Carson, I did try out Gosu when it was publicly announced but I was hoping for better IDE support and some DSL-friendly features I would've loved to see.

I see that Kotlin has drawn inspiration from Scala, Groovy and Gosu. So, all is not lost I guess.

Ashwin Jayaprakash said...

Funny read about Unix pipes -