Paul Krill

About the Author Paul Krill


ZGC large-heap Java garbage collector may go open source

An Oracle-developed, low-latency Java garbage collector geared to large heaps could move to the open source community, if a proposal to do so gets community approval. Votes are due by November 8.

Called the Z Garbage Collector (ZGC), the project is designed to support multiterabyte heaps, have pause times not exceeding 10 milliseconds, and offer no more than a 15 percent application reduction throughput compared to the G1 garbage collector.

But ZGC’s developers don’t see these goals as “hard requirements” for every workload, according to a proposal floated on an OpenJDK mailing list by Per Liden, a member of the HotSpot virtual machine team at Oracle. Liden’s proposal calls for creation of a ZGC project that he would lead, with the HotSpot group as sponsor. 

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Mozilla squashes Firebug in favor of native Firefox debugger

The Firebug web development tool, an open source add-on to the Firefox browser, is being discontinued after 12 years, replaced by Firefox Developer Tools.

Firebug will be dropped with next month’s release of Firefox Quantum (version 57). The Firebug tool lets developers inspect, edit, and debug code in the Firefox browser as well as monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript in webpages. It still has more than a million people using it, said Jan Honza Odvarko, who has been the leader of the Firebug project. Many extensions were built for Firebug, which is itself is an extension to Firefox.

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Mozilla is squashing Firebug in favor of native Firefox debugger

The Firebug web development tool, an open source add-on to the Firefox browser, is being discontinued after 12 years, replaced by Firefox Developer Tools.

Firebug will be dropped with next month’s release of Firefox Quantum (version 57). The Firebug tool lets developers inspect, edit, and debug code in the Firefox browser as well as monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript in webpages. It still has more than a million people using it, said Jan Honza Odvarko, who has been the leader of the Firebug project. Many extensions were built for Firebug, which is itself is an extension to Firefox.

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Google’s new mechanism to embed web content in Android apps

Google’s new Trusted Web Activity capability will offer a way to integrate trusted web content into native Android apps. By launching a Trusted Web Activity, any Android app can directly include “app-like” content served from the app provider’s own site with the benefit of custom tabs but running full-screen, said Dion Almaer, developer relations lead at Google. The capability means up-to-date content, a small on-device footprint, and sharing across websites.

A preview of Trusted Web Activity support will be available soon in Chrome canary and developer channels.  Support also will be available in the Android support library, so other browsers can provide the capability as well.

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Microsoft adds multithreading to Node.js for compute-heavy apps

Microsoft’s beta Napa.js runtime is offering multithreaded support for the Node.js server-side JavaScript platform, to provide the flexibility of JavaScript with speedy performance akin to C++’s.

By introducing multithreading to Node.js, the Napa.js runtime can more easily handle computation-intensive tasks, Microsoft said.

Built on the same V8 JavaScript runtime as Node.js, Napa.js can be embedded in a host process without Node.js dependency. It can be installed via NPM by typing npm install napajs.

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RacerD detects hard-to-find race conditions in Java code

Facebook has begun offeingr broad access to RacerD, a tool intended to tackle the longstanding problem of race conditions in software.

RacerD had been available as a prototype, accessible in Facebook’s open source code base only through a series of backdoor options, said codeveloper Sam Blackshear, a Facebook research scientist. Now, the tool will run by default in Facebook’s open source Infer static analysis tool for bug detection. Initially, RacerD is available only for Java code. But plans call for expanding coverage to other languages, including C++.

With race conditions, overlapping processes trying to access the same data concurrently can cause conflicts in programs. These concurrency errors can be difficult to debug or even reproduce. “This has really been a hard problem” in computing for about 50 years, said Peter O’Hearn, a research scientist on the Infer team and co-author of RacerD.

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What’s new in Microsoft .Net Framework 4.7.1

With Microsoft’s release of .Net Framework 4.7.1 this week, the development platform gains critical improvements to garbage collection, security, and application configuration. 

To boost memory allocation performance, particularly for large object heap allocations, an architectural change to the garbage collector splits the heap allocation into small and large object heaps. Applications making a lot of large object heap allocations should experience a reduction in allocation lock contention and better performance.

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At GitHub, JavaScript rules in usage, TensorFlow leads in forks

JavaScript is the most-popular language on GitHub, based on pull requests from the popular code-sharing site.

Since September 2016, there have been 2.3 million pull requests for JavaScript, GitHub reports. Following web development staple JavaScript was Python, with 1 million requests, and Java, with 986,000 requests. Python displaced Java as the second-most-popular language on GItHub. Also improving its lot greatly in 2017 was TypeScript, Microsoft’s typed superset of JavaScript, which had 207,000 pull requests, almost four times as many requests as it had the year before.

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‘Universal’ Windows development adds .Net Standard 2.0 support

Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP), an attempt to foster development of apps across multiple devices all running Windows 10, now supports the .Net Standard 2.0 specification for .Net unification.

But this move comes right after Microsoft revealed it was effectively pulling the plug on its Windows Mobile platform for smartphones, making Universal Windows apps less universal. In fact, Microsoft has been expanding support for Android and iOS in its various development tools as it effectively cedes the mobile market to Google and Apple.

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What’s new at GitHub: dependency management, security alerts

GitHub is adding several services to its popular code-sharing site to help developers manage dependencies and improve security.

GitHub dependency graph service

With the dependency graph service, GitHub will use its own data to build a dependency graph that gives developers insight into both projects their code depends on and the projects that depend on their code.

The essential features in the GitHub dependency graph service

Via the dependency graph, developers can see which applications and packages they are connected to without leaving their repository. The graph currently supports JavaScript and Ruby code, with Python support planned for later.

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Kotlin could overtake Java on Android next year

Kotlin is on its way to overtaking Java on that mobile platform, claims mobile database maker Realm.

Realm performed an anonymized assessment of 100,000 developers using its database and which languages they were using, determined by developers’ selection of SDKs. Realm found that 20 percent of apps built with Java before Google’s May endorsement of Kotlin are now being built in Kotlin.

Based on that data, Realm predicts Kotlin will overtake Java on Android by December 2018. Kotlin may even change how Java is used on the server, the company said: “In short, Android developers without Kotlin skills are at risk of being seen as dinosaurs very soon.”

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What’s new in Microsoft Visual Studio Code 1.17

The September 2017 release of Visual Studio Code, aka version 1.17, has arrived with a number of significant updates. Among the many improvements, the upgrade to Microsoft’s open source code editor brings region markers to the code folding support and boosts the performance of the built-in terminal.

With code folding, developers can hide away regions of source code using folding icons on the gutter between the line numbers and the start of a line of code. The region markers allow you to specify with comments exactly where your foldable blocks begin and end. Markers have been defined for TypeScript, JavaScript, C and C++, C#, F#, PowerShell, and Visual Basic.

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