Excellent Meeting at Connecticut Java User Group on Ceylon

Gavin King and Stephan Epardaud gave an excellent introduction to Ceylon at the October Connecticut Java User Group meeting. This is one of the most interesting new languages I have seen in a while – it compiles down to both Java byte code and also JavaScript. Thus you can write common APIs that would run in both the JVM and within the browser. Given the current emphasis on SPA (Single Page Applications)  this could really made development easier – if I can use the same objects in both the browser and on the server.

Ceylon looks to be a significant leap forward – Gavin did an excellent job of contrasting Ceylon with Java and explaining how it was different/better. I would prefer it over JavaScript any day of the week. Ceylon also looks more approachable than Scala. I’ve been trying to learn Scala on the weekends (among other things) but the learning curve is substantial – especially since I am not actively using it during the week. I have doubts that many 9-5 developers could successfully transition to it. Ceylon’s trump feature in my mind is the ability to run it in a JavaScript engine – that makes it easier to promote its use at work. There is clear value in the language – I can define logic and behavior and share them between the browser and the backend server application.

There was much to digest in the presentation. Ceylon has its own module system (focus of a lot of animated discussion during the meeting) and hence its own build system. Although there is support for Ant, path forward with Maven/Gradle wasn’t too clear – Maven support was mentioned but I wasn’t sure whether I could be successful today. The tooling support centers on Eclipse (plug-in) although there is a plugin for IntelliJ. Tooling of course will change over time – the support in Eclipse looks really good. With the help of the IDE it should be much easier to learn Ceylon and improve code written in Ceylon.

The biggest thing needed at this point for Ceylon is an introductory book!

The JUG meeting was well attended  and basically everyone stayed until almost 9:30 – long past when the meeting was supposed to end. Pre-registered we had 24 – still not up to 45-50 which we used to see 10 years ago. Meeting have been trending upwards this year (as well as membership).


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