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Red Hat ships piping hot Ceylon to curry favor with Java-weary devs

First production-ready release for open source language

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After more than three years of development, Red Hat has released version 1.0.0 of Ceylon, its homebrewed, open-source programming language that's designed to be a replacement for Java.

Early on, Ceylon was billed as a "Java killer" by some, but lead developer Gavin King has denied that doing away with Oracle's platform was ever his intent. In fact, even the earliest builds of Ceylon produced code that ran on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

Instead, King sought to create a new language that could run alongside Java but would be based on more modern class libraries and would have a syntax more amenable to defining user interfaces – something King believes there is "no good way" to do in Java.

In its current form, King describes Ceylon as a "cross-platform" language. The 1.0.0 release, announced at the Devoxx conference in Antwerp, Belgium on Tuesday, includes compilers that can output either Java bytecode or JavaScript.

That allows the same Ceylon source modules to run on either the JVM or a JavaScript execution environment such as Node.js, interchangeably. Or, a Ceylon program can be written to target only one of Java or JavaScript, in which case it can interoperate with native code written in that language.

This first production-ready release, which follows a beta and six previous milestone releases, doesn't add any new language features. Instead, the focus for version 1.0.0 was on squashing bugs, of which King says "a very large number" have been fixed since the beta release in September.

In addition to the compilers, the Ceylon distribution includes an Eclipse-based IDE that supports code auto-completion and suggestions, refactoring, incremental compilation, and other modern features. The 1.0.0 IDE release includes a number of improvements, such as a type hierarchy view, better syntax highlighting, and improved search results.

The Ceylon SDK has also been updated to include new modules for writing build scripts and outputting HTML content.

Moving forward, King says Ceylon 1.1 will focus on improving the performance of the language and its compilers and expanding the Ceylon SDK, while Ceylon 1.2 will likely introduce a number of new language features. More information on the Ceylon road map is available here.

More information on the Ceylon language itself, including documentation, the full language specification, tutorials, and download links for the language tools and source code, is available at the Ceylon community website. ®

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