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This Week in Programming: It Could’ve Been Way Worse

9 Jun 2018 6:00am, by

Let’s put it this way: it could’ve been way worse. And hey, it may even be good. After all, somebody had to do it, right?

At least, that seems to be the predominant, voice-of-reason reaction to this week’s big news that Microsoft bought GitHub for a whopping $7.5 billion.

Other reactions, of course, run the gamut from wondering if GitHub will now suffer the same fate as Skype and Nokia, to warning that the acquisition will provoke a developer backlash, to overtly stating that “GitHub has sold us out” and offering of an “evacuation center” to abandon the site in protest. Heck, even the Linux Foundation says that “this is pretty good news for the world of Open Source and we should celebrate Microsoft’s smart move.”

Programmable Web offers up a survey of developer community reactions, noting that “if GitHub needed a buyer, which it apparently did, Microsoft was, from the perspective of the developer community, a better suitor than other companies such as Google would have been.” Microsoft is, after all, the single biggest contributor to open-source projects on the site, despite its lingering reputation as a monopolistic corporation that could care less about developers and open source.

The company’s former CEO Steve Ballmer DID once call Linux “a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,” but let’s let bygones be bygones. As one tweet concerning Microsoft’s recent attitude towards open source remarks, “With @Microsoft acquiring @GitHub, open sourcing #PowerShell and #VisualStudio Code, adding #bash to #Windows10, and even launching their own version of #Linux for @Azure, can anyone legitimately doubt their commitment to the open source community? Impressive transformation.”

Meanwhile, it does look like some of GitHub’s competitors, such as GitLab, are indeed benefitting from the developer community’s response to the acquisition. JaxEnter has a piece that looks at how GitLab is stepping up its game in the midst of “git wars”, pointing to the company’s recent and resultant explosive growth. According to the article, GitLab has seen “over 100,000 repos imported, a 7x increase in orders and over 2,000 people on Twitter going nuts about the #movingtogitlab trend.”

And, in a perhaps lucky bit of timing, GitLab also announced this week that both GitLab Ultimate and Gold now free for education and open source. For those of you weighing your options, one article comparing GitHub and GitLab may be of use, and if you’ve made up your mind to leave GitHub, there’s that  “GitHub Evacuation Center” repo we previously mentioned that’s hosted on (what else?) GitHub.

Welp, that’s all we have for this week, there’s no other news in the developer world going on, it’s GitHub all day, every day! Oh, well, except for that little company called Apple. I guess they had a little developer conference or something this week? I guess we can take a look at that, too.

This Week in Programming

  • WWDC Summarized: If you don’t really care about the nitty gritty of all the announcements at Apple’s developer conference this week, you can skip the next several articles we’ll share here. If you want just the quick synopsis, however, Wired does a good job at summarizing everything Apple announced this week. The gist of it all was that Apple “tied together all of the latest updates to Apple’s platforms — iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS — along with some bigger initiatives focused on bolstering privacy and security, and curbing technology addiction.” Beyond that, the company made several updates, offering new versions of ARKit and CoreML, updating its App Store review guidelines, and making available an XCode 10 Beta. Read on for details
  • New App Store Review Guidelines: First up, Apple has updated its App Store review guidelines, which, according to the 9to5 Mac blog, “include revisions related to data security, cryptocurrency mining, free app trials, advertising, and more.” These revisions mean that, for example, free apps can now offer time-based free trials “by using a ‘non-consumable’ in-app purchase”, moving the ability to offer free trials beyond subscription-based apps. Importantly, the new guidelines also work to “implement measures that ensure proper handling of user data” and “prevent its unauthorized use, disclosure, or access by third parties.” Also included in the new guidelines were restrictions on using apps to mine cryptocurrency in the background, using sensitive user data to target advertising, and allowing for multi-platform apps to “access content acquired elsewhere” rather than restricting app users to accessing content only purchased through Apple.
  • Developer Betas Galore: Apple announced the Xcode 10 beta this week, which includes the SDKs for iOS 12, watchOS 5, tvOS 12, and macOS Mojave, and VentureBeat offers a summary. The betas are currently available to registered developers for preview. According to VentureBeat, iOS 12 will offer performance updates and support for support for ARKit 2.0, which we’ll talk about next.
  • ARKit 2.0: Next up, ARKit 2.0, the latest version of Apple’s augmented reality platform that now allows for multi-player augmented reality gaming with shared objects, as well as the ability to “incorporate real-world objects into your AR experiences, giving your users greater immersive opportunities.” According to ADTMag, other primary new features include persistent AR, wherein users can leave and return to saved states, object detection and image tracking, the ability to measure real-world objects, and a new file format that “eases the use of AR in other iOS apps such as Messages, Safari, Mail, Files and News, while providing graphics/animation and other features.”
  • CoreML 2.0: And now for the thing you might have been waiting for — machine learning. Apple’s entrant, CoreML 2.0, was announced this week, and VentureBeat again offers a take on the news, writing that version 2.0 is 30 percent faster and cuts AI model sizes by up to 75 percent. In addition to performance and efficiency gains, CoreML 2 allows potential developers to “easily build and train models using the new Create ML framework, with no machine learning expertise required.” CreateML is “a new GPU-accelerated tool for native AI model training on Macs” that “supports vision and natural language, as well as custom data.” In a separate article on the site, those of you unsure of weather to go with Apple or Google (do those people exist?) can read about the differences between Apple’s Core ML 2 and Google’s ML Kit. Of course, one primary difference is that Google’s ML Kit works on both Android and iOS, whereas CoreML only works on iOS.
  • On the Angrier Side of Things: Of course, not everything was roses with WWDC, as the Inquirer brings us a story of Game developers fuming as Apple deprecates OpenGL, calling the announcement “an alarming development for gamers and game developers.” As a part of the new macOS, OpenGL and OpenCL are being deprecated, meaning that “Apple has said it will no longer officially support it, though it won’t actively stop it.”
  • Android P Beta 2 and APIs: Moving beyond Apple, Google also made some news this week with the release of Android P Beta 2 and final APIs. Android P Beta 2 is an update from the original beta released a few weeks ago at Google I/O that includes the final Android P APIs, the latest system images, and updated developer tools. According to SD Times, “this beta release utilizes machine learning in many of its new features…adding an Adaptive Battery feature that uses machine learning to prioritize system resources,” as well as App Actions, “which is a way to help raise app visibility and drive engagement.”
  • Visual Studio 2019: Finally, beyond its GitHub acquisition, Microsoft also announced that it is working on the next release of Visual Studio, which will include “more and better refactorings, better navigation, more capabilities in the debugger, faster solution load, and faster builds.” In addition, 2019 will showcase “team productivity with capabilities like IntelliCode, where Visual Studio can use Azure to train and deliver AI-powered assistance into the IDE.”

Microsoft is a sponsor of The New Stack.

Feature image: Jared Rice on Unsplash.


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