Paul Krill

About the Author Paul Krill


The most popular IDEs? Visual Studio and Eclipse

Microsoft’s Visual Studio leads the way in desktop IDE (integrated development environment) popularity, with Eclipse close behind, according to PYPL’s August index of IDE popularity. Android Studio was a distant third.

Visual Studio takes a 22.4 percent share in this month’s index. Eclipse follows with a 20.38 percent share. Much further back was Android Studio, with a 9.87 percent share. “It’s surprising how a couple of IDEs have about half the popularity,” PYPL’s Pierre Carbonelle said.

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Google’s Deeplearn.js brings machine learning to the browser

Google is offering an open source, hardware-accelerated library for machine learning that runs in a browser. The library is currently supported only in the desktop version of Google Chrome, but the project is working to support more devices. 

The Deeplearn.js library enables training of neural networks within a browser, requiring no software installation or back end. “A client-side ML library can be a platform for interactive explanations, for rapid prototyping and visualization, and even for offline computation,” Google researchers said. “And if nothing else, the browser is one of the world’s most popular programming platforms.”

Using the WebGL JavaScript API for 2D and 3D graphics, Deeplearn.js  can conduct computations on the GPU. This offers significant performance, thus getting past the speed limits of JavaScript, the researchers said.

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AWS unveils AI monitoring for Amazon S3

AWS launched Amazon Macie today, a service that leverages machine learning to help customers prevent inadvertent exposure of sensitive data and unauthorized access to data in Amazon S3. The company said Amazon Macie will support additional AWS storage services later this year. 

Inside the company’s S3 (Simple Cloud Storage Service) platform, Amazon Macie will use natural language processing to discover and classify sensitive data, looking at factors such as personally identifiable information, private keys, and credit card information. The Macie service will also continuously monitor data access for unusual activity. Anomalies will trigger alerts to a customer’s security team, Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence at AWS, said.

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AWS unveils AI monitoring for Amazon S3, other improvements

AWS launched Amazon Macie today, a service that leverages machine learning to help customers prevent inadvertent exposure of sensitive data and unauthorized access to data in Amazon S3. The company said Amazon Macie will support additional AWS storage services later this year. 

Inside the company’s S3 (Simple Cloud Storage Service) platform, Amazon Macie will use natural language processing to discover and classify sensitive data, looking at factors such as personally identifiable information, private keys, and credit card information. The Macie service will also continuously monitor data access for unusual activity. Anomalies will trigger alerts to a customer’s security team, Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence at AWS, said.

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Microsoft unveils simpler .Net Core, standard .Net APIs

Microsoft’s .Net Core 2.0, an upgrade to the company’s open source, cross-platform implementation of .Net, is becoming available today. The new release includes improvements intended to make .Net Core easier to use. It also conforms to the .Net Standard 2.0 specification designed to facilitate code sharing among .Net Framework, .Net Core, and Xamarin.

The .Net Core framework can be used to build web applications and services that run on Windows, MacOS, or Linux. Ease of use improvements in .Net Core 2.0 include making the dotnet restore command (used to install project dependencies and other tasks) implicit for commands like run, build, and publish that require it.

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GitHub’s Atom editor gets a speed boost

GitHub has just released an upgrade to its “hackable” Atom text editor, adding a native C++ buffer and rewriting the DOM interaction layer. The company also has offered a glimpse of the next version, which will improve Git integration and PHP support.

With this week’s Atom 1.19 release, a native C++ text buffer boosts responsiveness and memory usage. “Saving a file now happens asynchronously without blocking the UI, so that you can move smoothly from one task to the next,” GitHub’s Ian Olsen said. Also, large files now consume less memory.

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Google releases TensorFlow Serving library

Google has just moved to a production release of TensorFlow Serving, its open source library for serving machine-learned models in production environments. A beta version of the technology was released in February.

Part of Google’s TensorFlow machine intelligence project, the TensorFlow Serving 1.0 library is intended to aid the deployment of algorithms and experiments while maintaining the same server architecture and APIs. TensoFlow Serving lets you push out multiple versions of models over time, as well as roll them back.

The library of course integrates with TensorFlow learning models, but it can also be extended to serve other model types.

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How Google’s Go language could be improved

To improve development tools for Google’s open source Go language, Go might be getting its own language server, akin to Microsoft and Red Hat’s Language Server Protocol.

The notion came up in a Go language contributors’ discussion group, so it’s not a done deal.

The group’s consensus recommendations are:

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JetBrains ships alternative to Microsoft’s Visual Studio

JetBrains’s Rider, a cross-platform IDE that could serve as a rival to Microsoft’s own well-established Visual Studio IDE, is now generally available.

The commercially licensed Rider can be used on Windows, MacOS, and Linux systems, letting developers build applications based on ASP.Net, .Net Core, .Net Framework, Xamarin, or Unity. Rider puts JetBrains’ ReSharper .Net support in the shell of the company’s IntelliJ Idea IDE and adds the WebStorm JavaScript IDE and DataGrip database management tool. ReSharper previously was packaged as a Visual Studio extension for code analysis and instant fixes.

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Java and C hit all-time lows in Tiobe language popularity index

Java and C continue to lead the Tiobe index of programming language popularity, but both dropped to all-time lows in the just-published August release of the index.

The longtime leaders have had to share the programming landscape with a growing number of language options attracting developers, which has caused their slippage in the index. Java’s rating this month was 12.961 percent, a drop of more than six percentage points since August 2016, while C’s rating was 6.477 percent, a year-over-year drop of nearly five points. Java’s rating last month was 13.774 percent while C was rated at 7.321 percent.

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What’s new in Angular 5: easier progressive web apps

Angular, Google’s popular JavaScript framework for building mobile and desktop applications, has had a whirlwind year, with two major upgrades in the past 11 months. It will reach the next milestone in its six-month release schedule in September, when Angular 5 is due to debut with major accommodations for Google-driven progressive web apps.

Despite the “5” designation, the upgrade will actually be just the fourth release for the framework, which already has undergone a rewrite since the 1.0 version, initially called AngularJS, debuted in 2012. Angular 5 is now in beta release and is scheduled for production release on September 18.

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React ‘Fiber’ core rewrite progresses to beta

React 16, an upgrade to Facebook’s popular JavaScript UI library that features a rewritten core to improve animation, layout, and gesture support, has just moved to a beta release stage.

Published as an NPM module, this initial beta release is focused mainly on compatibility with existing apps, and does not yet include asynchronous rendering capabilities. Facebook has pledged to offer native-like performance with version 16 of the open source library. Previously codenamed “Fiber,” the rewritten core is intended to offer a multitude of capabilities including:

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New Node.js API will shield modules from JavaScript engine changes

Help is on the way for developers building native modules for Node.js, as well for those who want to swap out the underlying JavaScript engine powering the platform.

Currently, modules must be recompiled to work with new versions of Node.js and the JavaScript engine, which traditionally has been Google’s V8 engine. But N-API is about to make things easier by providing an API for linking in native add-ons. Independent of the underlying JavaScript runtime, N-API will be stable for the application binary interface (ABI) across Node versions, to insulate add-ons from changes in the underlying JavaScript engine. Modules compiled for one version of Node.js would then run on later versions with no need to recompile.

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New project taps Node.js for microservices API gateway

Looking to take some complexity out of microservices deployments, LunchBadger has built an open source API gateway to secure microservices and expose them via APIs. Built on the Express web application framework for Node.js, the Express Gateway routes requests to services using Node.js and Express middleware. 

Express Gateway offers centralized configuration, API consumer and credentials management, and a plug-in framework. An API gateway is the heart of microservices, LunchBadger CEO Al Tsang said. “It’s a key piece of infrastructure that you must have,” enabling microservices to work with infrastructure such as Kubernetes container orchestration, Tsang said. LunchBadger offers an API and microservices platform. Joyent also is sponsoring the gateway.

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Microsoft explores ‘safe’ manual memory management in .Net

Microsoft Research has been experimenting with integrating safe manual memory management with garbage collection (GC) in the .Net runtime. The goal is to give developers both the convenience and safety of automated memory management and the opportunity to improve performance by freeing objects from memory manually.

The effort, called Project Snowflake, is the subject of a paper published this week by Microsoft Research and co-authors from the University of Cambridge and Princeton University. With Snowflake, programmers could choose between allocating objects in the GC heap or the manual heap. Snowflake combines the open source .Net runtime with a facility to manage memory manually without compromising performance or safety. Existing applications run unmodified using the GC heap, with no performance degradation.

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Petition asks Adobe to open source Flash

With Adobe having just announced its end-of-life schedule for the Flash rich Internet plug-in, a petition has been posted on GitHub encouraging the company to make the Flash source code available under an open source license.

The petition, posted on web developer Juha Lindstedt’s GitHub account, says open-sourcing Flash would be a good solution for keeping Flash content alive for archival purposes. “Flash is an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash Player means future generations can’t access the past. Games, experiments, and websites would be forgotten.” The petition adds that the idea was “not to save Flash Player but to open source Flash!”

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Petition asks Adobe to open-source Flash

With Adobe having just announced its end-of-life schedule for the Flash rich Internet plug-in, a petition has been posted on GitHub encouraging the company to make the Flash source code available under an open source license.

The petition, posted on web developer Juha Lindstedt’s GitHub account, says open-sourcing Flash would be a good solution for keeping Flash content alive for archival purposes. “Flash is an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash Player means future generations can’t access the past. Games, experiments, and websites would be forgotten.” The petition adds that the idea was “not to save Flash Player but to open source Flash!”

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Where are the best software developers? Not Silicon Valley

When it comes to determining which state has the best developers, California, the home of Silicon Valley, might immediately come to mind. But according to technical recruiter HackerRank, the top state is Washington.

HackerRank, which offers coding skills tests, examined its own data and found Washington had the most skilled developers on the company’s platform. Right on Washington’s heels, albeit with a smaller concentration of developers, was Wyoming. Developers in these two states dominated in algorithms, the domain with the largest share of challenges solved on the company’s platform. California placed third overall and ranked in the top 10 across multiple domains.

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Architect has a better blueprint for AWS Lambda deployments

The JS Foundation is taking jurisdiction over Architect, an open source software project for provisioning and maintaining cloud infrastructure from a simple text file, with a focus on AWS Lambda and eventually other serverless computing implementations.

The Architect project proposes a file format referred to as .arc. It is intended to be a simpler way of setting up and maintaining Lambda cloud functions than deploying them manually or using infrastructure administration tools such as TerraForm. The .arc format is “easier to read and runs faster,” as well as being easier to author, said Brian LeRoux, CTO at Slack bot provider Small Wins, which developed Architect and is contributing it to the JS Foundation.

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OWL: A ‘better’ PHP for single-server apps

PHP has been a staple of server-side web development for years. Now, a developer from Netflix is building a variation on the language that offers “the good parts” while purporting to be easier to use and more secure.

Called OWL, for OWL Web Language, the language features a JavaScript-like syntax and compiles to PHP. In a beta stage of development, OWL is best suited for single-server applications and is not intended to displace PHP. “It’s more of a new, secure interface on top of the same engine underneath,” developer Joe Lesko said. “But I could see more developers choosing OWL over raw PHP over time, especially for single-developer projects.” Ideas in OWL might even become incorporated into PHP, he said. Lesko has published instructions on getting started with OWL.

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Adobe: Flash Player to reach end-of-life in 2020

In a move that should come as no surprise given the declining need for proprietary rich Internet plug-ins, Adobe on Tuesday said it will cease updating and distributing its Flash Player at the end of 2020.

Content creators will instead be encouraged to migrate existing content to new, “open” formats such as HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly. Adobe cited the advent of these standards as having matured enough to provide capabilities pioneered by Flash. “Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plug-ins directly into browsers and deprecating plug-ins,” the company said.

Adobe said it will continue with development of new web standards including HTML5 while participating in the WebAssembly Community Group. Indeed, seeing the writing on the wall, Adobe has been making accommodations for HTML5 for several years now. The company’s Animate CC tool, for designing animations, supports both HTML5 and WebGL. Apple’s refusal to support Flash on its wildly popular iOS mobile platform was perhaps the watershed moment for the technology. Flash also has had its share of security issues. YouTube backed away from Flash in 2015, defaulting to HTML5.

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.Net Core 2.0 to extend coding optimizations to Linux

The next version of Microsoft’s open source, cross-platform version of the .Net software platform, .Net Core 2.0, will bring profile-guided optimization (PGO) to Linux x64. PGO is native compilation technology used by the C++ compiler to generate faster-running code. 

PGO features a two-step process, including a training run that records information about execution and a build step that uses the results of the training run to generate better optimized code, Microsoft’s Bertrand Le Roy and Daniel Podder explained in a blog post. The .Net Core 2.0 upgrade will add PGO optimizations to .Net Core on both the Windows x86 and Linux x64 platforms. PGO began working with Windows x64 in the .Net Core 1.1 release and it has been used in the Windows-based .Net Framework for years.

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Microcosm simplifies state management for React apps

Viget Labs has published a data layer for Facebook’s popular React JavaScript UI library. Called Microcosm, the open source tool manages state and data flow for React applications, keeping track of user actions even when users switch context or lose connectivity. 

Formally introduced to the public this month, Microcosm reduces the need for boilerplate code and keeps React apps organized. The company has described Microcosm as being an evolution of Facebook’s Flux application architecture for client-side web applications. Viget has been running Microcosm in production itself for two years.

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