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GNOME project picks JavaScript as sole app dev language

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The GNOME project, developers of the GNOME desktop for Linux, has decided JavaScript will be the only “first class” language it will recommend for developers cooking up new apps for the platform.

Developer Travis Reitter, who does some work on GNOME, has posted his account of a discussion at last weekend's GNOME Developer Experience Hackfest at which participants discussed “... the need to pick a single language to give a simple answer to 'how do I write a GNOME app?'.”

Today, Reitter says that question has “about 8 different personal-preference answers”. That's not helpful because “... it drives people away from our platform. Having to potentially evaluate several different languages and their stacks gives potential developers a lot of unneeded extra work.”

The answer to the question of how to develop for GNOME will, therefore, henceforth be: “Do it in JavaScript”.

As Reitter points out: “There's a lot of work going into the language to make it especially fast, embeddable, and framework-agnostic.” He also points out that web apps galore use JavaScript and that Microsoft is comfortable with JavaScript for Windows 8 apps.

Reitter says three things will flow from the decision, namely:

  • We will continue to write documentation for other languages, but we will also prioritize JavaScript when deciding what to work on.

  • We will encourage new applications be written in JavaScript.

  • We will be working to optimize the developer workflow around JavaScript.

The GNOME community seems happy with the decision, with John (J5) Palmieri asking “what took the GNOME community so long?”

“Now that finally there is some consensus, we can all move forward and GNOME can concentrate on making a kick ass development platform that can focus on the little things like great docs, best practices and tight language integration.,” Palmieiri added. “ They can do all this without the distraction of “but that isn’t how it is done in <insert your favorite language here>”. Seriously, if someone brings that up in a discussion they can now be thoroughly ignored

Reitter and Palmieri both acknowledge that JavaScript will not always be the perfect tool for the job, but that the same can be said of any other language. ®

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