Sun Offers JRuby Milestone Release

The JRuby Guys — Charles Nutter and Thomas Enebo — hired by Sun Microsystems to bring JRuby to 1.0 status, have apparently been hard at work: Sun has just released JRuby 0.9.1. It's an incremental release, but a milestone in the development of this Java implementation of the Ruby programming language.

Nutter and Enebo are the chief maintainers of JRuby. They joined Sun in September to work full-time on the open source JRuby project, with a particular focus on developer tools. Ruby expert Ola Bini, a systems architect and developer based in Stockholm, also joined Sun's JRuby team as a core developer during this dev cycle.

The JRuby project is part of Sun's overall strategy to make the Java virtual machine a better platform for languages other than Java. "Sun believes the Java platform is bigger than just the Java language and we support giving developers a choice," a Sun spokesperson said at the time of the Nutter-Enebo hire. "Sun is planning to support multiple languages on the Java platform; plus, we'll be working toward interoperability between the Java platform and other languages."

Ruby was originally developed in 1993. Its recent rise in popularity has been attributed to the development of Ruby on Rails in 2005. Rails is an open-source Web development framework written in Ruby. It's a full-stack framework for developing database-backed Web apps following the Model-View-Control architecture.

    Improvements in this release of JRuby include:
  • Faster performance (50-60% faster than JRuby 0.9.0, according to Sun)
  • Improved Rails support
  • New syntax for including Java classes into Ruby
  • New interpreter design
  • Refactoring of method dispatch, code evaluation, and block dispatch code
  • Parser performance enhancement
  • Rewriting of Enumerable and StringScanner in Java
  • New experimental syntax for implementing interfaces
  • Eighty-six Jira issues resolved since 0.9.0

In his blog posting on this release, Enebo wrote, "[Based on] the amount of progress we have made in the last month I expect massive improvements coming in the next month or two…"

Sun's announcement comes hot on the heels of a report that Microsoft has hired Ruby expert John Lam, ostensibly to work on an implementation of Ruby for the Microsoft Common Language Runtime (CLR).

Lam is the creator of the RubyCLR, which is a bridge between the Ruby language and the CLR designed to allow developers to build Windows apps in the Ruby language. He had served as a principal consultant and partner at ObjectSharp Consulting in Toronto. According to Microsoft, Lam will be joining the company in January. In his October 21 blog posting, Lam wrote, "I've decided to stage a friendly takeover of Microsoft. As of January 2007 my new work address will be Building 42 at Microsoft. I'll be working in the CLR team to help bring the love of dynamic languages out to the statically typed heathens."

At the time, Sun's hiring of Nutter and Enebo was seen as something of a delayed reaction to Microsoft's earlier hiring of another dynamic language guru, Jim Hugunin, creator of IronPython, who joined Microsoft in August 2004. IronPython is an implementation of the Python programming language for the .NET framework.

Version 0.9.1 of JRuby is now available for download.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].