Programming news: Ruby on Rails 2.3, two Silverlight projects merge, Google Experiments

Justin James presents news about Ruby on Rails, AJAX 4.0, Google Experiments, Embarcadero, Windows Mobile, Silverlight, and more. He also explains how you can get paid to work on Rails.

Yesterday I caught you up on the important announcements from Mix 09, which includes the release of IE 8, ASP.NET MVC 1.0, Silverlight 3 Beta 1, and much more. Check out what other news programmers need to know this week.

Ruby on Rails 2.3 is released

Ruby on Rails 2.3 was released last week, and the buzz on this release seems substantial. You will want to take a look at the release notes and see if it addresses your needs.

Get paid to work on Rails

Thanks to Google, there is some money available to pay people to work on the Rails core. It isn't "big money" — $4,500 over three months — but if you are a student, or if this is a nights and weekends effort for you, it would be nice to scoop up some extra cash while helping a project and getting some great experience under your belt.

Two major Silverlight control projects merge

Silverlight Contrib and Silverlight Extensions, two competing, open source control libraries for Silverlight, are merging. Both projects are hosted on CodePlex and use the same Ms-PL licensing, which makes the merger easier. Take the poll to help determine which name should be retained. (Thanks to Page Brooks for the notice.)

Google demos intense JavaScript

To make the case why JavaScript speed matters, Google has created the Chrome Experiments site. On the site, they show off a number of items that really tax the system. Some of these need Chrome to work.

While the demos are neat, I am still dubious regarding the overall point. In my mind, the problem with doing really cool things with JavaScript isn't the language — it's the in-browser environment, period. It's just too "locked down" to get a lot of things done, from where I sit... and until someone works out a good threading model, the code can't make the best possible use of the client system's resources anyway. (Thanks to TechRepublic 's sister site for the details.)

Get a $50 Amazon gift card for figuring out what "enterprise mashup" means

ZDNet blogger Joe McKendrick writes that JackBe's Chris Warner is starting a new contest. Each week, they will pick the best definition of "enterprise mashup" that a beginner can understand and award a $50 Amazon gift certificate. Not bad!

Microsoft uses the word free to attract students

In an effort to get students hyped up about Windows Mobile development (as opposed to iPhone development, I suppose), Microsoft is making it free for students who want to try developing apps for Windows Mobile devices. (Thanks to ZDNet blogger Zack Whittaker for the heads up.)

In the last few weeks, I think Microsoft has made some very smart moves to get pro-grade developers to take another look at the Windows Mobile platform. But students are often unaware of the realities of real-world development, and Apple's lousy treatment of developers probably won't matter much to students. Maybe Microsoft can even the playing field here too, but I doubt it.

Embarcadero names Tony de la Lama as VP of R&D

Embarcadero (which acquired CodeGear last year) has named Tony de la Lama as its new VP of Research and Development. Tony has a long history in the industry, and in one way, this is a homecoming for him. He was in charge of Borland's Java products at one point, and Borland's developer tools division eventually became CodeGear.

Microsoft AJAX 4.0 gets closer to release

Microsoft released Preview 4 of the next release (4.0) of the Microsoft AJAX framework. The official ASP.NET blog has full details. I am interested to see how this one plays out. On the one hand, there are already piles of open source AJAX frameworks out there, and the Microsoft AJAX libraries are just one of them. On the other hand, Microsoft's offering looked pretty good when I perused them a while back (when the initial release occurred) and a lot of people try to stick with the "official" stuff when possible.

Microsoft Research makes it easier to reach international audiences

Microsoft Research has announced the preview of the unimaginatively named Microsoft Translator Web page widget. It does exactly what you might think: You drop the widget onto a Web page that allows the user to translate the page to the language of their choice. It's nicer than going to a third-party site. There's a gem of a quote on the announcement: "We don't recommend using machine translation for sensitive or highly critical information." As anyone who has put a page through Babelfish a few times in a row can tell you, "no verb that describes the action of being a baby goat" (in other words, "no kidding").


Disclosure of Justin's industry affiliations: Justin James has a working arrangement with Microsoft to write an article for MSDN Magazine. He also has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides.


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Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

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