CloudBees enterprise PaaS bites the dust

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CloudBees has decided to pull the plug on Run@Cloud, its PaaS aimed at enterprise Java developers. Instead, the company is concentrating on hosted professional editions of Jenkins, the open source continuous integration/deployment system, along with a partnership with Pivotal.

This is the latest sign of tough times in the enterprise public PaaS space. Many of the items businesses formerly would have relegated to an infrastructure-like public PaaS are now accomplished through open source solutions like Pivotal’s CloudFoundry or Red Hat’s OpenShift.

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Java, C++ slip in popularity as domain-specific languages spread

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Are Java and C++ slipping in popularity? One language index says they are, although both skill sets still are in demand for developer jobs.

The Tiobe Index this month has both languages plunging to depths they’ve never reached before. “Java and C++ are at an all-time low in the Tiobe index since its start in the year 2001. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Java and C++ are on their way out. There is still a huge demand for these programming languages,” Tiobe says. Based on a formula that analyzes searches on languages on a number of sites, Java’s rating in the September index was 14.14 percent; C++ had a rating of 4.67 percent. Overall, Java ranked second in popularity, while C++ came in fourth.

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Swagger aims to become the de facto standard for APIs

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The popular open source Swagger API framework, intended to make it easier to deploy and use APIs, advanced this week with the release of version 2.0.

Swagger’s update focuses on evolving its JSON syntax, providing a human-friendly authoring format, and creating mechanisms for vendor extensions. Version 2.0 also features a Swagger editor and validation tools.

The specification has only been revised four times in four years, said Tony Tam, project lead for Swagger and CEO of Reverb Technologies, which offers a personalized news discovery app. The intent is to keep Swagger stable; thus, there have been few revisions, he said in an interview at the I Love APIs conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

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APIs will glue together the Internet of things

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A while back, I wrote about how I learned to stop worrying and love my creepy smartphone and how data is converging to tell us more about our users, specifically what they’re going to do based on their past behavior. The other week, I wrote about how Jawbone’s Up bands detected the recent earthquake in Northern California, and how you’re able to write apps using Up band data via an open RESTful API. In fact, the other major producers like Fitbit also have an API, and the number and types of devices exposing their information are rapidly increasing.

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Compiler wars: LLVM and GCC compete on speed, security

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The latest version of the LLVM 3.5 compiler infrastructure, version 3.5, is now available for download as it faces potential competition from the up-and-coming version 5 of the GCC (GNU Compiler Collection). It’s also staring down the prospect of an alternate version hardened against errors and memory leaks by way of formal mathematical proofs.

LLVM isn’t a compiler for a given language, but rather a framework that can be used to generate object code from any kind of source code. The project can target a broad variety of instruction sets, so it’s a powerful way to develop compilers for a given language that span hardware types. Version 3.5’s new features mostly target the ARM back end and the way code is emitted for MIPS and AArch64 processor architectures, but some languages have also recently added LLVM support. LDC, for example, uses LLVM to compile the D language.

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JHipster links Java and JavaScript for Web development

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The JHipster application generator is enabling developers to blend their Java and JavaScript development skills on the same Web applications.

Reaching a 1.0.0 release milestone on September 1, the open source offering leverages a multitude of technologies, including the Angular.js JavaScript framework, the Spring Java framework, and the Yeoman scaffolding tool (JHipster serves as a Yeoman generator). The technology has been used for building business applications and games, says JHipster founder Julien Dubois, of Ippon Technologies, a consultancy specializing in Java.

With JHipster, Dubois set about to blend Angular.js and JavaScript on the client and Java on the back end via Spring. “They all work together out of the box,” he says. Other tools leveraged with Hipster include the Maven build tool for Java, Spring MVC REST, and Spring Data JPA, all on the server side.

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Scala founder: Language due for ‘fundamental rethink’

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Scala, a language specializing in functional and object-oriented programming, has been running on the Java virtual machine for several years now, enjoying adoption 

odersky

from enterprises and startups alike. The language’s road map features three upcoming upgrades — version 2.12, “Aida,” and “Don Giovanni” — with the last release to serve as a “fundamental rethink” involving modularity, says Scala designer Martin Odersky, who is chairman and co-founder of Typesafe, which offers middleware based on Scala. He also serves as a computer science professor at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.

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Beyond average: 10 best practices for coding Java APIs

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Published around this time last year, jOOQ creator Lukas Eder‘s Java programming best practices are written as a series of caveats to the standard wisdom of API design. Eder writes: “Being an internal DSL, jOOQ challenges Java compilers and generics to the max, combining generics, varargs and overloading in a way that Josh Bloch probably wouldn’t recommend for the ‘average API.'”

Digging into the “beast” that is Java, Eder emerges with some perennial best practices — “It often makes sense to free memory in the inverse order of allocation”; “Avoid returning anonymous, local or inner class instances from methods to the outside scope”; “Arrays or Collections should never be null” — and a handful related to new features in Java 8 (see his comments on using defender methods, Optional, and single abstract methods). More controversially, Eder takes on the question of whether it’s ever safe to make methods final by default:

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Oracle hasn’t killed Java — but there’s still time

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Oracle’s last two crap quarterly earnings can most definitely be described as the chickens coming home to roost. The core of the problem is that Oracle lacks anyone who can have a big idea, and a sales machine won’t produce the results that investors are accustomed to unless they have something to sell.

The Sun acquisition was a mixed bag: Oracle leapt from the low-cost, high-margin business of software sales into the high-cost, low-margin business of hardware sales just as the cloud era kicked off in earnest. That had to be fun for investors. What was even more fun was what investors were unable to see: that Oracle failed to capitalize on the most important part of Sun.

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FeedHenry uses Node.js to fortify mobile apps

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A few years ago, the mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) seemed to be the likely answer to the huge challenge of creating groups of mobile applications that work together and integrate with enterprise data. In hindsight, MEAP systems, which typically combined a back-end server and middleware stack with a client application, seem excessively expensive and heavyweight.

The current trend is toward MBaaS (mobile back end as a service) platforms, loosely coupled with native, Web, and hybrid mobile applications. An MBaaS — which might be focused on business applications, consumer applications, or both — places much of the logic onto the mobile device, while enforcing security and managing the data at the back end. Even traditional MEAP vendors, such as Kony, are now offering MBaaS platforms.

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Programmers could get REPL in official Java

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Proponents of open source Java are investigating the possibility of formally adding a REPL (Read Evaluate Print Loop) tool to the language.

Java advocates are considering REPL as part of Project Kulla, currently under discussion on the openjdk mailing list for open source Java. Featured in Lisp programming, REPL expressions replace entire compilation units; the REPL evaluates them and offers results. With REPL, the overhead of compilation is avoided for looping operations, says Forrester analyst John Rymer.

“From a developer perspective, it’s nice to be able to interact with the code while it’s running in real time without having to recompile/redeploy,” analyst Michael Facemire, also of Forrester, says.

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New JavaScript library adds facial detection, 3D projection to Web apps

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The open source Tracking.js JavaScript library is bringing computer vision and augmented reality to Web development.

Tracking.js can work in mobile Web or desktop applications or be paired with Node.js on the server, says developer Eduardo Lundgren. It brings computer vision algorithms and techniques into the browser, and it enables functions like facial detection, camera-based tracking, and projecting of 3D models.

“When you want to do these kinds of interactions, it was very hard to do with the technologies that were available before in C or C++,” says Lundgren, a software engineer at Liferay, which produces the Liferay Portal platform. To this end, Traking.js provides a Web component so developers can access components from HTML tags, without having to know JavaScript.

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Big Java news in late summer 2014

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As is typical when JavaOne is imminent, there has been much big news in the Java community recently. This post briefly references three of these items (Java SE 8 updates, Java SE 9, and Java EE 8) and a “bonus” reference to a post I found to be one of the clearer ones I have seen on classpath/classloader issues.

String deduplication in Oracle Java 8 JVM

In “String Deduplication – A new feature in Java 8 Update 20,” Fabian Lange introduces String Deduplication for the G1 Garbage Collector using the JVM option -XX:+UseStringDeduplication that was introduced with JDK 8 Update 20. The tools page for the Java launcher has been updated to mention the JVM options -XX:+UseStringDeduplication-XX:+PrintStringDeduplicationStatistics, and -XX:StringDeduplicationAgeThreshold. More details on JDK 8 Update 20 are available in the blog post “Release: Oracle Java Development Kit 8, Update 20.” The Lange post has also sparked discussion on this and related JVM options on the Java subreddit

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GitHub’s new CEO: We’re serious about the enterprise

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GitHub is more than a cloud service based on Git, Linus Torvalds’ popular revision control system. It’s a cultural phenomenon that marks the ascent of a new generation of developers that, although closely associated with open source, displays equally intense allegiance to social coding and the agile development movement.

Arguably the center of the programming universe, GitHub currently boasts 6.8 million users and 15.2 million code repositories, more than double the respective numbers recorded two years ago, when the company attracted $100 million in venture capital from Andreessen Horowitz. The investment came shortly after GitHub’s release of an on-premises version of its software, GitHub Enterprise, for customers who prefer to keep their code inside the firewall.

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The star of JavaOne is … JavaScript?

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Java and JavaScript are two very different programming languages, albeit with similar names. Java is generally associated with enterprise application development and the Android mobile platform. JavaScript, meanwhile, is the lingua franca of Web development. But JavaScript apparently has captured the attention of Java steward Oracle in a big way. 

Perhaps out of fear that Java developers could end up switching to JavaScript development or simply recognizing the interest in both platforms, Oracle is making accommodations for JavaScript at its JavaOne technical conference in San Francisco next month. The industry’s top Java get-together will feature a multitude of sessions covering JavaScript, including:

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Why developers should get excited about Java 9

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With work moving forward on the next edition of standard Java, developers can start looking forward to what they will get with the planned upgrade.

Several JEPs (JDK Enhancement Proposals) for Java Development Kit 9 were updated this week, offering the latest perspectives on what to expect with JDK 9, which has been targeted for release in early 2016 and is based on the Java Standard Edition 9 platform. Headlining the release at this juncture is a modular source code system. Oracle has planned a modular Java via Project Jigsawwhich had been planned for JDK 8 but was pushed back; the existing JEP is part of Project Jigsaw. Standard Edition Java becomes more scalable to smaller devices with this technology. “The module system should be powerful enough to modularize the JDK and other large legacy code bases, yet still be approachable by all developers,” says Oracle’s Mark Reinhold, chief architect in Java Platform Group, in a recent blog post.

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Walmart’s investment in open source isn’t cheap

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In a recent blog post, a senior developer at Walmart Labs explained that the company’s embrace of open source costs big money. Eran Hammer observed that Walmart’s backing for the Hapi project is a “significant expense (exceeding $2m).”

Why does Walmart bother with open source at all? Why not use proprietary code from somewhere else and save the company the trouble?

The Hapi.js project is an open source Node.js framework that “enables developers to focus on writing reusable application logic instead of spending time building infrastructure.” Hammer explains that Walmart uses it extensively for production applications, so investment in it is a cost of doing business. Indeed, many companies invest in custom frameworks for their development work, including the internal customization of open source code. But Walmart has gone further, spending over and above the cost of internal development so that Hapi can be used by companies unrelated to Walmart.

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Autoboxing, Unboxing, and NoSuchMethodError

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J2SE 5 introduced numerous features to the Java programming language. One of these features is autoboxing and unboxing, a feature that I use almost daily without even thinking about it. It is often convenient (especially when used with collections), but every once in a while it leads to some nasty surprises, “weirdness,” and “madness.” In this blog post, I look at a rare (but interesting to me) case of  NoSuchMethodError resulting from mixing classes compiled with Java versions before autoboxing/unboxing with classes compiled with Java versions that include autoboxing/unboxing.

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Five ways Docker is taking over the world

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In a little more than a year, Docker has gone from being a new kid on the block to a widely used and respected technology. For any project to become that big a draw in so short a time is an eye-opener, but evidence suggests Docker’s growth is the real thing — the creation of a standardized software platform for delivering apps at scale. Here are five signs of how Docker’s rise is not likely to be mere faddism.

1. Docker usage
The most direct and obvious sign of Docker’s success is where and how widely it’s being used. Multiple cloud providers support it directly, and Google is one of the most visible and active. Rackspace is in the game as well, using it internally for a plethora of functions. Even Microsoft’s Azure is now Docker-friendly, which has provoked speculation over whether Docker will someday run on Windows itself.

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What I wish I’d known starting out as a programmer

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As the old Faces song “Ooh La La” goes, I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger. Back then, I simply loved to code and could have cared less about my “career” or about playing well with others. I could have saved myself a ton of trouble if I’d just followed a few simple practices.

1. Take names. I was really focused on computers early in my career and considered people to be minor annoyances who kept me from being one with my beloved machine. OK, I’m exaggerating a little. Despite meeting many industry luminaries and people that would have been worthwhile to befriend, I didn’t keep any business cards. I didn’t bother to remember their names and never checked in on them. I only went to user groups (there wasn’t meetup.com when I started and it wasn’t a big thing for a while after) when I needed a job.

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