JRuby 1.6 RC1 Released

The JRuby community this week announced the availability the first release candidate (RC) of JRuby 1.6. RC1, which the community is calling the largest release to date of its 100 percent Java implementation of the Ruby programming language, fixes hundreds of user issues and "brings compatibility with Ruby 1.9.2 to a very high level."

This release candidate is the first version to provide Ruby 1.9.2 language and API compatibility. Ruby 1.9.2 is the most recent version of that popular dynamic scripter. JRuby 1.6 RC1 incorporates some important incremental performance improvements, including faster standard libraries from Ruby 1.9.2. Supporting Ruby 1.9.2 also allows JRuby to integrate more seamlessly with the recent Ruby on Rails (RoR) 3.0 release. The bug-fix second release of Ruby 1.9.2 (Ruby 1.9.2-p136) is now available.

This JRuby release candidate also aims to provide Windows-based Ruby users with "the best experience yet," the community states on its Web site. Windows becomes a primary supported platform with version 1.6, which also integrates "experimental support for C extensions based on Ruby's C API." Among the improvements aimed at Windows developers: built-in support for WIN32OLE.

This release emphasizes general performance and stability improvements, and adds support for RubyGems 1.4.2. (RubyGems is the packaging system that provides a standard format for distributing Ruby programs and libraries.)

 In a recent blog posting, Engine Yard's Charles Nutter, a JRuby core developer, said that this version is largely complete, with a few new features -- including Encoding::Converter, non-ASCII identifiers, and the "ripper" and "fiddle" libraries -- planned for a follow-up release. (Fiddle is an FFI wrapper; Ripper is a Ruby script parser.)

 Nutter's company, Engine Yard, is a provider of cloud computing Platform-as-a-Service for Ruby on Rails. The company is a big backer of JRuby. In a press release "celebrating" the 1.6 RC1 release, Nutter said that the improved Windows support in this release "will increase the number of developers who can use JRuby and make it more accessible for enterprise developers."

 Nutter is one of three core JRuby contributors working at Engine yard; the others are Thomas Enebo and Nick Sieger. They, along with more than 45 developers contributed more than 2,000 individual "commits" to complete the JRuby RC1, according to the company.

 JRuby is released under three open-source licenses: the CPL (Common Public License), the GPL (GNU General Public License) version 2, and the LGPL (GNU Lesser General Public License) version 2.1. And it's tightly integrated with Java; you can embed the interpreter into any Java app with full two-way access between the Java and the Ruby code. Gartner estimates that there are half a million Ruby developers working today.

 "JRuby has the fastest Ruby interpreter on the market," said Eric Knipp, senior research analyst with the Gartner Group, in an earlier interview. "It'll run the complete Ruby test suite, so it's a first-class citizen. And on top of that, you can run it inside all the popular JVMs (Java Virtual Machines) -- plus, you have access to all the existing Java libraries. With JRuby, Ruby becomes just another dialect for Java developers. That's why I think JRuby is a great thing for enterprises to look at if they're considering moving into some dynamic languages."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].