Programming Languages

This Week in Programming: Google, Microsoft Show Off All the Things

10 May 2019 12:53pm, by

This week, we saw two of the biggest names in IT holding their respective developer conferences, Google I/O and Microsoft Build. And between the two companies, there were… well, let’s just say lots of announcements. Heck, according to one blog post by Google, the search giant showed off at least 100 new things. And if you really feel like getting the full experience, Google currently has 175 videos from I/O, while Microsoft has 356 videos from Build.

Of course, nobody has time for that, and if you look at that list of Google announcements, only 14 of them fall squarely into the “developer” news section. So, instead of spending the next week watching every recording from each, we’ll do a little bit of the slogging through the news for you and take a look at what these two companies out there had in store for you developers this week. Now, buyer beware, we certainly can’t claim to be exhaustive, but here are some of the top language and environment-related news from the week past. First up, Google.

Google I/O Developer News

  • Kotlin Now “Preferred” for Android Development: We’ve been watching Kotlin for a few years now, and Google let us know this week that it was going all-in on the language, declaring it the preferred language for Android app development. In a blog post, Google notes that developer use of Kotlin had grown to more than 50% since the company first declared official support for the language in 2017. Now, in “another big step” for the statically typed JVM language that can be compiled to JavaScript, Google has announced that it’s not only supported but preferred, with “many new Jetpack APIs and features” being offered Kotlin-first.  If you’re starting a new project, you should write it in Kotlin,” urges Google. “Code written in Kotlin often mean much less code for you — less code to type, test, and maintain.” TechCrunch quotes Android advocate chief Chet Haase on the move: “We understand that not everybody is on Kotlin right now, but we believe that you should get there,” Haase said. “There may be valid reasons for you to still be using the C++ and Java programming languages and that’s totally fine. These are not going away.”

  • Android Studio Beta Polishes Up: In its own version of “bug fixes and performance improvements,” Android Studio 3.5 Beta hit the shelves this week with a promise to “focus even more on quality and stability over features.” This latest version is a product of Project Marble, which Google debuted back in January as an effort to work on the basics before getting caught up in more frivolous features. As such, some of the new “features” are bug fixes for things like the “33 impactful memory leaks” that were slowing the IDE down, and “feature polish”, such as C++ project support Chrome OS support. In all, Google says Android Studio 3.5 has “hundreds of bug fixes and notable changes” to report in the two basic genres of system health and feature polish. For a better summary, make sure to read the blog post or dive deeper into the release notes. Or better yet, download away.

  • JetPack Adds Libraries for Cars, Cameras & More: Google launched JetPack just a year ago now, but already says that the “collection of software components designed to accelerate Android development” is being used in 80% of the top 1,000 apps in the Play store. This week, the company revealed the addition of nearly a dozen new JetPack libraries, including CameraX, a library meant to provide “a consistent camera experience across devices, so you no longer have to maintain device specific configurations”, and the beta availability of the Android for Cars library that makes it easier to integrate your app with the Android Auto app and Android Automotive OS. Of course, those are just the showy, interesting for headlines features. The new JetPack also includes a beta of the Jetpack Enterprise library, a number of architecture component updates, such as “LiveData and Lifecycles w/ coroutines to support common one-shot asynchronous operations,” and an early preview of JetPack Compose, “a new unbundled toolkit designed to simplify UI development by combining a reactive programming model with the conciseness and ease-of-use of Kotlin.”

Microsoft Build Developer News

  • Windows Does What Now? Linux? Just based on the fact that Windows was once led by a man who called Linux “a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,” we have to include this bit — Microsoft has revealed that a legit Linux kernel will be shipped with Windows starting this summer. This, writes Mary Branscombe for The New Stack, will be a definite improvement for developers. “WSL 2 promises much-needed improvements to file IO performance, as well as native support for Docker, simplifying working with Linux containers,” writes Branscombe. “But it also enables fully Linux compatibility on Windows, making this a significant shift in what Windows can offer.” The Windows Subsytstem for Linux (WSL) will be the first time a Linux kernel has been shipped with the nearly 24-year-old operating system — Linux, by comparison, turns 18 this September — and as is becoming more commonplace with Microsoft these days, the kernel will be fully open source.
  • Visual Studio Goes Online… Soon: Microsoft offered a private preview of three new features which will enable developers to “work from anywhere, and on any device, while virtually eliminating the amount of setup needed to start productively coding.” Sounds good to us! First up, Visual Studio Remote Development will allow users to connect their “local tools to a WSL, Docker container, or SSH environment, while retaining the full-fidelity, editing experience in Visual Studio Code” starting with C# and C++. Next, cloud-hosted developer environments will let developers quickly spin up developer environments in the cloud (hence the name) rather than spending all their time worrying about dependencies. Finally, Microsoft updated Visual Studio Online, “a new web-based companion editor that compliments the Visual Studio family, and ensures you can work effectively from any device” and “will support IntelliCode and Live Share out-of-the-box.” (On a related note, IDEs going online is a definite trend these days, as Red Hat also put some focus on its CodeReady Workspaces Web-based IDE this week at its conference.) For those interested, you can sign up for the private preview now.
  • .NET 5 Skips Ahead: Microsoft announced this week that “the next release after .NET Core 3.0 will be .NET 5,” with “just one .NET going forward” that will let you “target Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, tvOS, watchOS and WebAssembly and more.” For those of you keeping track, you may shout “but 4 comes after 3, not 5!” but Microsoft explains that it is “skipping the version 4 because it would confuse users that are familiar with the .NET Framework, which has been using the 4.x series for a long time.” Naming aside, the new version — which will be available sometime in 2020 — will work to provide “a single .NET runtime and framework that can be used everywhere and that has uniform runtime behaviors and developer experiences,” taking the best of NET Core, .NET Framework, Xamarin and Mono, and doing it all in “a single code-base that developers (Microsoft and the community) can work on and expand together.” All of that, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg, so if you’re interested, make sure to check out the rest of Microsoft’s lengthy post on the topic.

Feature image by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash.

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