Programming news: Alpha Five, IronPython, Scala, F#

Read about IronScheme 1.0 RC1, Adobe Flash Builder for, Apache POI, NetBeans 6.8 beta, Microsoft extending Azure's reach to Eclipse developers, and more.


Language/library updates

Alpha Five V10 RC1 released

Alpha Five V10's first release candidate is available. The early buzz about Alpha Five V10 is quite positive. Whenever the topic of Alpha Five comes up, tons of users tell me how happy they are with the product, which is fairly rare to hear about a product in this industry. In the near future, I'll take a look at Alpha Five and report back.

IronPython 2.6 RC2 is out

The second release candidate of IronPython 2.6 is now available, with the final release coming in (hopefully) less than a month.

Scala 2.7.7 released

Scala 2.7.7 has been released. It looks like it is only bug fixes.

A refresh to F#

F# is getting a facelift with a new release coinciding with Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2, along with a new CTP for Visual Studio 2008 and an update for Mono. The list of changes looks fairly interesting, with improvements all over the board to make it easier to use F#, particularly with asynchronous programming (which F# intuitively understands as a language feature).

IronScheme 1.0 RC1 available

IronScheme 1.0 RC1 is now available for download. If you're using it, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Tools and products and Flash are having a baby! ('s cloud computing platform) and Adobe teamed up to release the Adobe Flash Builder for, which just hit beta. The final version is expected in the first half of 2010. From what I see, the product is designed to allow you to make Flash and AIR applications based on components.

Visual Studio 2010, .NET 4 beta 2 released; RTM and packages announced

Microsoft has: released the second beta of Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4; announced that March 22, 2010 is the final release date of Visual Studio 2010; and announced the new lineup of packages, which substantially simplifies things from the current MSDN options. Read all the details in Somasegar's blog.

Microsoft extends Azure's reach to Eclipse developers

ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley reports that, in early 2010, Microsoft will release tools for Eclipse developers to work with Azure.

Apache POI now reads OOXML

Apache released version 3.5 of its POI library, which allows Java developers to work with Microsoft Office documents. The latest version supports OOXML, the new format used by Office 2007. This is great news for Java developers; .NET people have to pay big bucks for this functionality from third-party vendors.

Free Silverlight Streaming out, Azure in

Microsoft is shutting down its free Silverlight Streaming beta site and recommending that customers use the paid Azure equivalent. No dates have been confirmed yet.

NetBeans 6.8 beta available

The NetBeans 6.8 beta is ready for download. There are a ton of new features in it that appear to be worth checking out.

Spec Explorer creates unit tests from application models

Microsoft released Spec Explorer, which allows you to model your application and then generate unit tests based on the model. In Microsoft's experiments, they show a 42% productivity gain compared to manual test suite creation.

Help shape the next MSDN Library

MSDN is asking for feedback on how folks use the library. Take the survey to participate.

Etoys 4 released

Squeak Etoys 4 has been released. If you're looking for an intriguing system, particularly one to teach programming concepts, you'll want to take a look at it.

Editorial and commentary

GPL has issues, according to Stallman

Richard Stallman has gone on the record as saying that it does indeed take money to develop free software. It's nice to see him finally come to terms with that reality. Are there some truly pure open source projects that can rely solely on volunteer efforts? Sure, but most are small projects. I can only think of a few large open source projects (as in, "one everyone has heard of") that are not supported at all by commercial interests in any way, shape, or form. And I've seen plenty of data that confirm that open source development is primarily performed by people being paid to do it.

Computer Science now has its own week

The U.S. Congress passed a resolution making the week of December 7th National Computer Science Education Week. While I like the idea overall (it's not like it can be harmful), I disagree with the selection of that particular week. For those who may be wondering why December 7th sounds familiar, it's because it is "a date which will live in infamy" -- that is, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces, which initiated the United State's entry into WWII. (Incidentally, it would also be my wedding anniversary if the reception site had not been booked.)

Great article on software maintenance

The ACM's Queue publication has a very good article about software maintenance and why maintaining software is impossible in modern applications. It's an enlightening read that you should forward to PMs and architects.

Why can't developers manage their time?

Joel Spolsky has a very well thought out article about the challenges that developers face when managing their time. He talks a bit about the relationship to college CS programs and this issue, which is something that I never considered before, but it makes sense.

Tips and tricks

Why you don't lock on string objects

Microsoft's Tess Ferrandez has an interesting piece on what can go wrong when you use strings as the objects of locks. Because two strings with the same value really point to the same object internally, using them to lock on will potentially cause problems if any of the strings have the same value. For safety's sake, don't use strings as locking objects.

Rendering an ASP.NET User Control as a string

Jon Kragh has a useful tip that shows you how to render an ASP.NET User Control as a string. This is particularly useful for the ASP.NET MVC folks out there.

How to run IronPython from C# 4

Charlie Calvert has a good introduction to using C# 4 to call IronPython code. I am really looking forward to the increased blending of dynamic and static code in .NET 4.

Events and education

Devconnections in Las Vegas in November

The Devconnections conference is coming to Las Vegas, November 9 - 12, 2009. This looks to be a massive event, with a lot of great speakers and content.

PHP International Conference coming in November

The PHP International Conference will be held in Karlsruhe, Germany, November 15 - 18, 2009. They have quite a lineup of speakers across a wide variety of topics.

Parisian Smalltalk Party

There will be a Smalltalk Party in Paris on November 28, 2009.

Columbia Code Camp coming in January 2010

The Columbia Enterprise Developer's Guild is putting on a Code Camp on January 30, 2010. We are currently lining up speakers and sponsors. If you're interested, please let me know (use the contact link on this page to get in touch with me). I will definitely be presenting on one, if not two or three, topics (probably Parallel Extensions Library, along with a career-oriented presentation, and possibly Code Contracts).

Free eBook on software pricing

Red Gate Software's CEO Neil Davidson is giving away free eBook copies of his book Don't Just Roll the Dice: A usefully short guide to software pricing. In my opinion, Neil is one of the best authors when it comes to the business end of this industry. Although I haven't read this book yet (it's 81 pages, including the covers), I am sure that it is good, judging by everything else that I have read by him. You can also buy a copy of his book on Amazon.

Oracle opens the Enterprise Architecture Center

Oracle has opened up a new portion of its site called the Enterprise Architecture Center, which features information of use to architects, planners, etc.

Free parallelism Webinars for Visual Studio C/C++ developers

Intel is offering free Webinars for Visual Studio C/C++ developers who would like to learn more about parallel processing.

MSDN gets a massive overhaul

Somasegar has the details about the MSDN changes. Hint: It's more than just a new color scheme. They're also giving away time on Azure.


Disclosure of Justin's industry affiliations: Justin James has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides. He is also under contract to OpenAmplify, which is owned by Hapax, to write a series of blogs, tutorials, and other articles.


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