Paul Krill

About the Author Paul Krill


Amateur web developers can now look to Mavo

Mavo, a tool to turn static HTML into reactive web applications without programming code or a server back end, has just moved to the beta stage. It could be boon for non-programmers looking to get their feet wet in web development.

Built at MIT by a team led by computer scientist Lea Verou, the open source Mavo is an HTML-based language that extends HTML syntax to describe web applications that can manage data, with data stored in the cloud, locally, or not at all. Plugins can be used to modify Mavo’s behavior.

Mavo is similar to Angular 1.x, the since-superseded version of Google’s JavaScript framework. Both have an HTML-based syntax and support expressions. But Angular was never designed with the goal of writing entirely in HTML; it “treats HTML as a shortcut for data binding to views, but everything else is expected to be written in JavaScript,” according to the Mavo team.

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Microsoft brings scalable Git to Visual Studio in improved GVFS

Microsoft has been mapping out plans to improve its Git Virtual File System (GVFS), including linking it to the Visual Studio IDE and getting it supported in third-party Git clients.

GVFS is an attempt to scale the Git software version control system to extremely large projects and teams, virtualizing the .git folder and working directory. In GVFS, only portions of a repo and files are downloaded, providing developers just the portions they need at the time. The software features a server-based back end and a virtualization layer for the client, virtualizing the file system.

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Kubernetes foundation takes on container networking

 (CNCF), which seeks to drive large-scale cloud computing with an emphasis on containers and microservices, has just added the Container Network Interface (CNI) project to its fold.

The project joins others hosted by the nonprofit foundation, including the Kuberrnetes container orchestration platform and CoreDNS DNS server. CNI had been a GitHub open source project. It features a specification and libraries to write plugins for configuring networking interfaces in Linux containers.

The foundation’s adoption of CNI is meant to increase its focus on network connectivity of containers and the removal of allocated sources when the container is deleted. “The idea [is] that CNI is a standard way of being able to use different networking technologies,” said Dan Kohn, the foundation’s executive director.

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Microsoft’s P language is aimed at where cloud, AI, and IoT meet

Microsoft is positioning its P language as a solution for asynchrony in a world where this capability is becoming increasingly vital for the cloud, artificial intelligence, and embedded systems.

Geared to asynchronous event-driven programming, the open source P unifies modeling and programming into a single activity. “Today’s software uses cloud resources, is often embedded in devices in the physical world and employs artificial intelligence techniques,” said Shaz Qadeer, a principal researcher at Microsoft. Such applications feature asynchrony, leading to issues with race conditions and “heisenbugs” (named after the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle), which are timing-related bugs that often disappear during an investigation of it. P was was built to address the challenges.

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GitHub sets up a developer tools store, releases GraphQL API

GitHub today unveiled its GitHub Marketplace, a store for developers to purchase development tools. The goal is to help developers find integrations and quickly use them.

For example, GitHub Marketplace supports more than a dozen integrators via a single account and payment method, so developers can worry less about managing accounts. Development apps range from continuous integration to project management and code review, including Travis CI, Appveyor, Waffle, ZenHub, Sentry, and Codacy.

GitHub also rolled out two other tools intended to ease software development: GraphQL API, for data access, and GItHub Apps, for process control.

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Google’s Firebase taps serverless Cloud Functions

Firebase, Google Cloud’s back end and SDK for mobile and web application development, is being enhanced with serverless compute capabilities. Google Cloud Functions for Firebase, now available in a beta release, allows developers to run back-end JavaScript code that responds to events triggered by Firebase features and HTTPS requests.

Developers upload their code to Google’s cloud, and the functions are run in a managed Node.js environment. There is no need for users to manage or scale their own servers. “[Cloud Functions] enables true server-less development,” Google’s Ben Galbraith said. Like AWS Lambda and Microsoft’s Azure Functions, Cloud Functions allows users to deploy and run code without provisioning servers. Developers code to cloud APIs, and the cloud takes care of managing and scaling the functions.

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Oracle has a plan to make Java 9 migration easier

It will be easier to migrate code to the planned Java 9 release, due in late July, if the committee that managed Java approves a proposal just made by Oracle to better accommodate modularity, the key new feature in Java 9. Oracle made the proposal after getting strong opposition to its modularization plans from the Java community

In a proposal floated Thursday, Mark Reinhold, Oracle’s chief Java architect, said strong encapsulation of JDK-internal APIs has caused worries that code that works on JDK 8 will not work on JDK 9 and that no advance warning of this was given in JDK 8. “To help the entire ecosystem migrate to the modular Java platform at a more relaxed pace, I hereby propose to allow illegal reflective access from code on the class path by default in JDK 9, and to disallow it in a future release,” he said.

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Google’s Polymer zeroes in on ES6 compatibility, interoperability

Polymer, Google’s open source JavaScript library for building reusable HTML elements, has graduated to version 2.0, a major revision that improves the data system, interoperability with other web libraries and frameworks, and support for ECMAScript 6 standards. ECMAScript is the official specification underlying JavaScript and implemented in web browsers.

Arriving nearly two years after Polymer 1.0, the 2.0 release complies with HTML custom elements v1, for creating new HTML tags, and shadow DOM v1, for self-contained web components. Developers can now draw on Polymer APIs associated with both specifications. Polymer 2.0 uses standard ECMAScript 6 classes and custom elements v1 methods rather than a Polymer factory method, according to release notes. Developers can mix Polymer features with standard JavaScript, although the factory method is still supported via a compatibility layer. 

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Google endorses Kotlin for Android development

Google’s Java-centric Android mobile development platform is adding the Kotlin language as an officially supported development language, and will include it in the Android Studio 3.0 IDE. Its developers had previously promoted Kotlin for Android development.

The revelation was made Wednesday by Google Program Manager Stephanie Saad Cuthbertson at the Google IO developer conference. This is the first time a new programming language has been added to Android. “It makes developers so much more productive. It is fully Android runtime-compatible, it is fully interoperable with existing code, it has fabulous IDE support,“ she said.

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Oracle’s Java chief debunks ‘misconceptions’ about Java 9

Looking to stave off criticism of the now-jeopardized Java 9 release, Oracle’s top Java official defended the platform against what he termed falsehoods around its accommodations for Apache Maven, third-party frameworks, and existing code.

“There seem to be many misconceptions out in the world about what Java 9 is, what the Jigsaw module system is, how it’s going to impact people,” Reinhold said at the Devoxx UK conference in London last week. Today in an online post, he addressed what he sees as the three biggest misconceptions around Java 9.

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Visual Studio may gain AI smarts around available code

Microsoft is eying artificial intelligence capabilities to give its Visual Studio IDE a greater grasp of the available code for a project.

Currently in an experimental phase, Visual Studio’s use of AI may enable code analysis, tapping sources ranging from the developer’s code repo to project code to perhaps even GitHub repos under a developer’s jurisdiction. Microsoft is pondering just how many code sources should be considered.

The company has no timetable for when AI might appear in the Visual Studio IDE.

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Escape from Flatland: Microsoft’s new UI approach

With the Fluent Design System, Microsoft is looking to accommodate rich, immersive experiences across devices, including in iOS and Android via apps. Microsoft will roll out Fluent Design capabilities in multiple phases. Developers will get the technology after it has already been tested in real-world solutions.

“We’re going from a flat design language … into the immersive, multidimensional one,” said Bojana Ostojic, principal design manager in the Windows devices group. “We’re going from small screen and touch to now appreciate the full range of devices and input types, and we’re moving beyond just consumption and communication into also creativity and curation.”

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Microsoft focuses on engagement with Fluent Design System, UWP, and Windows 10 Fall Update

Looking to advance application design, Microsoft today is detailing its Fluent Design System, which is intended to help developers build engaging applications that work on multiple types of systems. At its Build conference, it also revealed more developer support for its Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and a few details of the next version of Windows 10.

Fluent Design System

Previously known as Project Neon, Fluent Design System is built to “help developers create more expressive and engaging apps that work across a variety of devices and input diversity,” said Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw.

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Microsoft’s Visual Studio tackles serverless computing, Mac dev

Microsoft today is advancing its Visual Studio IDE in several areas, including serverless computing and development on the Mac.

For serverless computing, the company’s Azture Functions Visual Studio beta lets developers integrate Azure Functions into development flows, said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise group. Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott said the company would be “doing a bunch of things to make it easier to manage the entire life cycle of serverless code development.” The beta is a available as a Visual Studio 2017 extension, Guthrie said, and lets developers use third-party extensions, testing frameworks, and continuous-integration systems.

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