Paul Krill

About the Author Paul Krill


What’s new in Angular 5: easier progressive web apps

Angular, Google’s popular JavaScript framework for building mobile and desktop applications, has had a whirlwind year, with two major upgrades in the past 11 months. It will reach the next milestone in its six-month release schedule in September, when Angular 5 is due to debut with major accommodations for Google-driven progressive web apps.

Despite the “5” designation, the upgrade will actually be just the fourth release for the framework, which already has undergone a rewrite since the 1.0 version, initially called AngularJS, debuted in 2012. Angular 5 is now in beta release and is scheduled for production release on September 18.

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What’s new in Angular 5: easier progressive web apps

Angular, Google’s popular JavaScript framework for building mobile and desktop applications, has had a whirlwind year, with two major upgrades in the past 11 months. It will reach the next milestone in its six-month release schedule in September, when Angular 5 is due to debut with major accommodations for Google-driven progressive web apps.

Despite the “5” designation, the upgrade will actually be just the fourth release for the framework, which already has undergone a rewrite since the 1.0 version, initially called AngularJS, debuted in 2012. Angular 5 is now in beta release and is scheduled for production release on September 18.

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React ‘Fiber’ core rewrite progresses to beta

React 16, an upgrade to Facebook’s popular JavaScript UI library that features a rewritten core to improve animation, layout, and gesture support, has just moved to a beta release stage.

Published as an NPM module, this initial beta release is focused mainly on compatibility with existing apps, and does not yet include asynchronous rendering capabilities. Facebook has pledged to offer native-like performance with version 16 of the open source library. Previously codenamed “Fiber,” the rewritten core is intended to offer a multitude of capabilities including:

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React ‘Fiber’ core rewrite progresses to beta

React 16, an upgrade to Facebook’s popular JavaScript UI library that features a rewritten core to improve animation, layout, and gesture support, has just moved to a beta release stage.

Published as an NPM module, this initial beta release is focused mainly on compatibility with existing apps, and does not yet include asynchronous rendering capabilities. Facebook has pledged to offer native-like performance with version 16 of the open source library. Previously codenamed “Fiber,” the rewritten core is intended to offer a multitude of capabilities including:

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New Node.js API will shield modules from JavaScript engine changes

Help is on the way for developers building native modules for Node.js, as well for those who want to swap out the underlying JavaScript engine powering the platform.

Currently, modules must be recompiled to work with new versions of Node.js and the JavaScript engine, which traditionally has been Google’s V8 engine. But N-API is about to make things easier by providing an API for linking in native add-ons. Independent of the underlying JavaScript runtime, N-API will be stable for the application binary interface (ABI) across Node versions, to insulate add-ons from changes in the underlying JavaScript engine. Modules compiled for one version of Node.js would then run on later versions with no need to recompile.

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New Node.js API will shield modules from JavaScript engine changes

Help is on the way for developers building native modules for Node.js, as well for those who want to swap out the underlying JavaScript engine powering the platform.

Currently, modules must be recompiled to work with new versions of Node.js and the JavaScript engine, which traditionally has been Google’s V8 engine. But N-API is about to make things easier by providing an API for linking in native add-ons. Independent of the underlying JavaScript runtime, N-API will be stable for the application binary interface (ABI) across Node versions, to insulate add-ons from changes in the underlying JavaScript engine. Modules compiled for one version of Node.js would then run on later versions with no need to recompile.

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New project taps Node.js for microservices API gateway

Looking to take some complexity out of microservices deployments, LunchBadger has built an open source API gateway to secure microservices and expose them via APIs. Built on the Express web application framework for Node.js, the Express Gateway routes requests to services using Node.js and Express middleware. 

Express Gateway offers centralized configuration, API consumer and credentials management, and a plug-in framework. An API gateway is the heart of microservices, LunchBadger CEO Al Tsang said. “It’s a key piece of infrastructure that you must have,” enabling microservices to work with infrastructure such as Kubernetes container orchestration, Tsang said. LunchBadger offers an API and microservices platform. Joyent also is sponsoring the gateway.

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New project taps Node.js for microservices API gateway

Looking to take some complexity out of microservices deployments, LunchBadger has built an open source API gateway to secure microservices and expose them via APIs. Built on the Express web application framework for Node.js, the Express Gateway routes requests to services using Node.js and Express middleware. 

Express Gateway offers centralized configuration, API consumer and credentials management, and a plug-in framework. An API gateway is the heart of microservices, LunchBadger CEO Al Tsang said. “It’s a key piece of infrastructure that you must have,” enabling microservices to work with infrastructure such as Kubernetes container orchestration, Tsang said. LunchBadger offers an API and microservices platform. Joyent also is sponsoring the gateway.

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Microsoft explores ‘safe’ manual memory management in .Net

Microsoft Research has been experimenting with integrating safe manual memory management with garbage collection (GC) in the .Net runtime. The goal is to give developers both the convenience and safety of automated memory management and the opportunity to improve performance by freeing objects from memory manually.

The effort, called Project Snowflake, is the subject of a paper published this week by Microsoft Research and co-authors from the University of Cambridge and Princeton University. With Snowflake, programmers could choose between allocating objects in the GC heap or the manual heap. Snowflake combines the open source .Net runtime with a facility to manage memory manually without compromising performance or safety. Existing applications run unmodified using the GC heap, with no performance degradation.

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Microsoft explores ‘safe’ manual memory management in .Net

Microsoft Research has been experimenting with integrating safe manual memory management with garbage collection (GC) in the .Net runtime. The goal is to give developers both the convenience and safety of automated memory management and the opportunity to improve performance by freeing objects from memory manually.

The effort, called Project Snowflake, is the subject of a paper published this week by Microsoft Research and co-authors from the University of Cambridge and Princeton University. With Snowflake, programmers could choose between allocating objects in the GC heap or the manual heap. Snowflake combines the open source .Net runtime with a facility to manage memory manually without compromising performance or safety. Existing applications run unmodified using the GC heap, with no performance degradation.

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Petition asks Adobe to open source Flash

With Adobe having just announced its end-of-life schedule for the Flash rich Internet plug-in, a petition has been posted on GitHub encouraging the company to make the Flash source code available under an open source license.

The petition, posted on web developer Juha Lindstedt’s GitHub account, says open-sourcing Flash would be a good solution for keeping Flash content alive for archival purposes. “Flash is an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash Player means future generations can’t access the past. Games, experiments, and websites would be forgotten.” The petition adds that the idea was “not to save Flash Player but to open source Flash!”

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Petition asks Adobe to open-source Flash

With Adobe having just announced its end-of-life schedule for the Flash rich Internet plug-in, a petition has been posted on GitHub encouraging the company to make the Flash source code available under an open source license.

The petition, posted on web developer Juha Lindstedt’s GitHub account, says open-sourcing Flash would be a good solution for keeping Flash content alive for archival purposes. “Flash is an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash Player means future generations can’t access the past. Games, experiments, and websites would be forgotten.” The petition adds that the idea was “not to save Flash Player but to open source Flash!”

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Petition asks Adobe to open-source Flash

With Adobe having just announced its end-of-life schedule for the Flash rich Internet plug-in, a petition has been posted on GitHub encouraging the company to make the Flash source code available under an open source license.

The petition, posted on web developer Juha Lindstedt’s GitHub account, says open-sourcing Flash would be a good solution for keeping Flash content alive for archival purposes. “Flash is an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash Player means future generations can’t access the past. Games, experiments, and websites would be forgotten.” The petition adds that the idea was “not to save Flash Player but to open source Flash!”

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Where are the best software developers? Not Silicon Valley

When it comes to determining which state has the best developers, California, the home of Silicon Valley, might immediately come to mind. But according to technical recruiter HackerRank, the top state is Washington.

HackerRank, which offers coding skills tests, examined its own data and found Washington had the most skilled developers on the company’s platform. Right on Washington’s heels, albeit with a smaller concentration of developers, was Wyoming. Developers in these two states dominated in algorithms, the domain with the largest share of challenges solved on the company’s platform. California placed third overall and ranked in the top 10 across multiple domains.

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Where are the best software developers? Not Silicon Valley

When it comes to determining which state has the best developers, California, the home of Silicon Valley, might immediately come to mind. But according to technical recruiter HackerRank, the top state is Washington.

HackerRank, which offers coding skills tests, examined its own data and found Washington had the most skilled developers on the company’s platform. Right on Washington’s heels, albeit with a smaller concentration of developers, was Wyoming. Developers in these two states dominated in algorithms, the domain with the largest share of challenges solved on the company’s platform. California placed third overall and ranked in the top 10 across multiple domains.

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OWL: A ‘better’ PHP for single-server apps

PHP has been a staple of server-side web development for years. Now, a developer from Netflix is building a variation on the language that offers “the good parts” while purporting to be easier to use and more secure.

Called OWL, for OWL Web Language, the language features a JavaScript-like syntax and compiles to PHP. In a beta stage of development, OWL is best suited for single-server applications and is not intended to displace PHP. “It’s more of a new, secure interface on top of the same engine underneath,” developer Joe Lesko said. “But I could see more developers choosing OWL over raw PHP over time, especially for single-developer projects.” Ideas in OWL might even become incorporated into PHP, he said. Lesko has published instructions on getting started with OWL.

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Architect has a better blueprint for AWS Lambda deployments

The JS Foundation is taking jurisdiction over Architect, an open source software project for provisioning and maintaining cloud infrastructure from a simple text file, with a focus on AWS Lambda and eventually other serverless computing implementations.

The Architect project proposes a file format referred to as .arc. It is intended to be a simpler way of setting up and maintaining Lambda cloud functions than deploying them manually or using infrastructure administration tools such as TerraForm. The .arc format is “easier to read and runs faster,” as well as being easier to author, said Brian LeRoux, CTO at Slack bot provider Small Wins, which developed Architect and is contributing it to the JS Foundation.

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Architect has a better blueprint for AWS Lambda deployments

The JS Foundation is taking jurisdiction over Architect, an open source software project for provisioning and maintaining cloud infrastructure from a simple text file, with a focus on AWS Lambda and eventually other serverless computing implementations.

The Architect project proposes a file format referred to as .arc. It is intended to be a simpler way of setting up and maintaining Lambda cloud functions than deploying them manually or using infrastructure administration tools such as TerraForm. The .arc format is “easier to read and runs faster,” as well as being easier to author, said Brian LeRoux, CTO at Slack bot provider Small Wins, which developed Architect and is contributing it to the JS Foundation.

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OWL: A ‘better’ PHP for single-server apps

PHP has been a staple of server-side web development for years. Now, a developer from Netflix is building a variation on the language that offers “the good parts” while purporting to be easier to use and more secure.

Called OWL, for OWL Web Language, the language features a JavaScript-like syntax and compiles to PHP. In a beta stage of development, OWL is best suited for single-server applications and is not intended to displace PHP. “It’s more of a new, secure interface on top of the same engine underneath,” developer Joe Lesko said. “But I could see more developers choosing OWL over raw PHP over time, especially for single-developer projects.” Ideas in OWL might even become incorporated into PHP, he said. Lesko has published instructions on getting started with OWL.

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Adobe: Flash Player to reach end-of-life in 2020

In a move that should come as no surprise given the declining need for proprietary rich Internet plug-ins, Abode on Tuesday said it will cease updating and distributing its Flash Player at the end of 2020.

Content creators will instead be encouraged to migrate existing content to new, “open” formats such as HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly. Adobe cited the advent of these standards as having matured enough to provide capabilities pioneered by Flash. “Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plug-ins directly into browsers and deprecating plug-ins,” the company said.

Adobe said it will continue with development of new web standards including HTML5 while participating in the WebAssembly Community Group. Indeed, seeing the writing on the wall, Adobe has been making accommodations for HTML5 for several years now. The company’s Animate CC tool, for designing animations, supports both HTML5 and WebGL. Apple’s refusal to support Flash on its wildly popular iOS mobile platform was perhaps the watershed moment for the technology. Flash also has had its share of security issues. YouTube backed away from Flash in 2015, defaulting to HTML5.

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Adobe: Flash Player to reach end-of-life in 2020

In a move that should come as no surprise given the declining need for proprietary rich Internet plug-ins, Adobe on Tuesday said it will cease updating and distributing its Flash Player at the end of 2020.

Content creators will instead be encouraged to migrate existing content to new, “open” formats such as HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly. Adobe cited the advent of these standards as having matured enough to provide capabilities pioneered by Flash. “Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plug-ins directly into browsers and deprecating plug-ins,” the company said.

Adobe said it will continue with development of new web standards including HTML5 while participating in the WebAssembly Community Group. Indeed, seeing the writing on the wall, Adobe has been making accommodations for HTML5 for several years now. The company’s Animate CC tool, for designing animations, supports both HTML5 and WebGL. Apple’s refusal to support Flash on its wildly popular iOS mobile platform was perhaps the watershed moment for the technology. Flash also has had its share of security issues. YouTube backed away from Flash in 2015, defaulting to HTML5.

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.Net Core 2.0 to extend coding optimizations to Linux

The next version of Microsoft’s open source, cross-platform version of the .Net software platform, .Net Core 2.0, will bring profile-guided optimization (PGO) to Linux x64. PGO is native compilation technology used by the C++ compiler to generate faster-running code. 

PGO features a two-step process, including a training run that records information about execution and a build step that uses the results of the training run to generate better optimized code, Microsoft’s Bertrand Le Roy and Daniel Podder explained in a blog post. The .Net Core 2.0 upgrade will add PGO optimizations to .Net Core on both the Windows x86 and Linux x64 platforms. PGO began working with Windows x64 in the .Net Core 1.1 release and it has been used in the Windows-based .Net Framework for years.

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.Net Core 2.0 to extend coding optimizations to Linux

The next version of Microsoft’s open source, cross-platform version of the .Net software platform, .Net Core 2.0, will bring profile-guided optimization (PGO) to Linux x64. PGO is native compilation technology used by the C++ compiler to generate faster-running code. 

PGO features a two-step process, including a training run that records information about execution and a build step that uses the results of the training run to generate better optimized code, Microsoft’s Bertrand Le Roy and Daniel Podder explained in a blog post. The .Net Core 2.0 upgrade will add PGO optimizations to .Net Core on both the Windows x86 and Linux x64 platforms. PGO began working with Windows x64 in the .Net Core 1.1 release and it has been used in the Windows-based .Net Framework for years.

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Microcosm simplifies state management for React apps

Viget Labs has published a data layer for Facebook’s popular React JavaScript UI library. Called Microcosm, the open source tool manages state and data flow for React applications, keeping track of user actions even when users switch context or lose connectivity. 

Formally introduced to the public this month, Microcosm reduces the need for boilerplate code and keeps React apps organized. The company has described Microcosm as being an evolution of Facebook’s Flux application architecture for client-side web applications. Viget has been running Microcosm in production itself for two years.

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Microcosm simplifies state management for React apps

Viget Labs has published a data layer for Facebook’s popular React JavaScript UI library. Called Microcosm, the open source tool manages state and data flow for React applications, keeping track of user actions even when users switch context or lose connectivity. 

Formally introduced to the public this month, Microcosm reduces the need for boilerplate code and keeps React apps organized. The company has described Microcosm as being an evolution of Facebook’s Flux application architecture for client-side web applications. Viget has been running Microcosm in production itself for two years.

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Survey says Python is tops with developers

Python, which was already surging in popularity among developers, has received another endorsement, getting the nod as the most popular tool in IT service provider Packt’s just-released developer survey.

The language is used by nearly 20 percent of respondents, giving it the top spot. The report echoes Python’s high rankings in language popularity indexes from Tiobe, PyPL, and RedMonk, which all have the language finishing in their recent top five rankings.

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Survey says Python is tops with developers

Python, which was already surging in popularity among developers, has received another endorsement, getting the nod as the most popular tool in IT service provider Packt’s just-released developer survey.

The language is used by nearly 20 percent of respondents, giving it the top spot. The report echoes Python’s high rankings in language popularity indexes from Tiobe, PyPL, and RedMonk, which all have the language finishing in their recent top five rankings.

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Mozilla brings Python-style project documentation to JavaScript

Wanting a more full-featured documentation tool for large JavaScript projects, Mozilla has unveiled Sphinx-js, a plug-in that pulls JSDoc-formatted JavaScript documentation into the Sphinx documentation tool used in the Python world.  

Sphinx-js consumes documents and tags from the JSDoc markup language used to document JavaScript APIs and libraries. Sphinx-js delegates the parsing to JSDoc itself. The Sphinx tool, meanwhile, is used to initialize a docs folder in the root folder of your project, whereupon the plug-in is activated and you document your code using the reStructuredText plain text markup syntax and parser system.

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Mozilla brings Python-style project documentation to JavaScript

Wanting a more full-featured documentation tool for large JavaScript projects, Mozilla has unveiled Sphinx-js, a plug-in that pulls JSDoc-formatted JavaScript documentation into the Sphinx documentation tool used in the Python world.  

Sphinx-js consumes documents and tags from the JSDoc markup language used to document JavaScript APIs and libraries. Sphinx-js delegates the parsing to JSDoc itself. The Sphinx tool, meanwhile, is used to initialize a docs folder in the root folder of your project, whereupon the plug-in is activated and you document your code using the reStructuredText plain text markup syntax and parser system.

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Go language soars to new heights in popularity

Go, Google’s open source, concurrency-friendly programming language, has soared to new heights with developers, cracking the top 10 in the Tiobe index of language popularity for the first time.

With an all-time high rating of 2.363 percent, Go ranks as the 10th most popular programming language in this month’s index, ahead of languages such as Perl, Swift, Ruby, and Visual Basic. The Tiobe Programming Community index assesses language popularity using a formula based on frequency of searches for the languages in popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Baidu, and Wikipedia.

Tiobe called Go’s latest rise an important landmark and pondered what was next. “Is Go really able to join the big stars in the programming language world and leave languages such as JavaScript and Python behind? We will see.” The language was ranked in 55th place in the index a year ago. Go’s previous high score was a 2.325 percent rating in January, when it placed 13th.

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Go language soars to new heights in popularity

Go, Google’s open source, concurrency-friendly programming language, has soared to new heights with developers, cracking the top 10 in the Tiobe index of language popularity for the first time.

With an all-time high rating of 2.363 percent, Go ranks as the 10th most popular programming language in this month’s index, ahead of languages such as Perl, Swift, Ruby, and Visual Basic. The Tiobe Programming Community index assesses language popularity using a formula based on frequency of searches for the languages in popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Baidu, and Wikipedia.

Tiobe called Go’s latest rise an important landmark and pondered what was next. “Is Go really able to join the big stars in the programming language world and leave languages such as JavaScript and Python behind? We will see.” The language was ranked in 55th place in the index a year ago. Go’s previous high score was a 2.325 percent rating in January, when it placed 13th.

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Luna brings visual development to functional programming

Described by the creators as a developer’s whiteboard “on steroids,” the Luna functional language promises to enable application assembly by clicking and dragging visual elements together.

Expected to be released as open source when Luna reaches beta, its compiler will produce native code for the developer’s choice of Linux, MacOS, Windows, or JavaScript. The team behind Luna is seeking candidates for a private alpha release.

Luna’s creators argue that because developers typically start sketching components and dependencies on a whiteboard before coding, it doesn’t make sense to then implement that logic only in text. Software can have thousands of lines of code distributed in hundreds of files, which can trip up the implementation of that visual data flow and application architecture. Tools such as UML architecture diagrams only deal with the symptoms and not the problem’s source, Luna’s creators argue.

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Luna brings visual development to functional programming

Described by the creators as a developer’s whiteboard “on steroids,” the Luna functional language promises to enable application assembly by clicking and dragging visual elements together.

Expected to be released as open source when Luna reaches beta, its compiler will produce native code for the developer’s choice of Linux, MacOS, Windows, or JavaScript. The team behind Luna is seeking candidates for a private alpha release.

Luna’s creators argue that because developers typically start sketching components and dependencies on a whiteboard before coding, it doesn’t make sense to then implement that logic only in text. Software can have thousands of lines of code distributed in hundreds of files, which can trip up the implementation of that visual data flow and application architecture. Tools such as UML architecture diagrams only deal with the symptoms and not the problem’s source, Luna’s creators argue.

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Eclipse gets ready for Java 9 with Oxygen release train

The Eclipse Foundation’s annual release train, featuring simultaneous updates to dozens of projects, has just arrived, featuring preliminary Java 9 support. Called Oxygen, the release train covers 83 projects and includes 71 million lines of code.

Here are the key updates in Oxygen:

  • Java 9 support remains in beta stage, because Java 9 itself will not be made available until Java Development Kit 9 ships on September 21. Oxygen’s Java 9 support includes the ability to add the Java Runtime Environment for Java 9 as the installed JRE as well as backing for the Java 9 execution environment. Developers also can create Java and plug-in projects using Java 9 and compile modules that are part of a Java project. Eclipse’s signature Java IDE has been enhanced as well, with improvements to the UI.
  • Eclipse Linux Tools 6.0 updates Docker Tools with more security options. This project provides a C/C++ IDE for Linux developers.
  • Eclipse PDT (PHP Development Tools) 5.0 supports the 7.1 version of PHP, which offers nullable types and a void return type.
  • The Eclipse Sirius 5.0 platform for building domain-specific modeling tools, with usability enhancements.
  • Eclipse EGit 4.8.0, offering performance and usability for the Java implementation of Git code management integration for Eclipse.

Focused on open source tools, Eclipse has offered annual release trains every June since 2006, letting developers coordinate upgrades or new releases of multiple projects. Last year’s release train, Neon, offered tools for Docker and JavaScript. June 2018’s release is slated to be called Neon.

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The road to Java 9: Modular Java finally gets OK’d

Modularity, a key but highly controversial feature of the upcoming Java 9 release, looks to be back on track with the Java community’s adoption of a proposal that had failed in an initial vote weeks earlier.

With new round of voting completed this week, the Java Community Process Executive Committee passed by a 24-0 vote the Java Platform Module System public review ballot, the subject of Java Specification Request 376.

In May, the same group, citing concerns over the plan being disruptive and lacking consensus, voted the measure down, 13 to 10. In the aftermath, Java Development Kit 9, where the module system was to be delivered, was postponed from July 27 to September 21.

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Progressive web apps challenge native mobile apps

Native mobile apps have generally had the edge when it comes to user experience over web-based apps. But the tide is turning, with progressive web apps — a technology spearheaded by Google and Mozilla—catching on at major web properties and developer tools becoming available.

“We’re starting to see a lot of large companies come back to the web because of its low friction,” said Addy Osmani, an engineering manager on Google’s Chrome team. He cited Lyft and Twitter as examples.

Twitter’s progressive web app, Twitter Lite, takes up less than 1MB of memory, compared to more than 100MB for its native iOS app and 23MB for its native Android app, Osmani said. The client-side JavaScript app uses less data and supports push notifications and offline use.

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