IronPython builder hails Microsoft DLR

The developer of the IronPython programming language touted Microsoft's Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR) for .Net during the Mix07 conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Jim Hugunin is developer of both IronPython, which puts Python on the .Net software platform, and Jython, which is Python for Java. He currently is an architect on the Common Language Runtime team at Microsoft.

Released in an alpha form as part of the Silverlight 1.1 release this week, the DLR supports .Net application development via IronPython and managed JavaScript; IronRuby, for Ruby programming, and Dynamic VB are to be added later. No date has been set for the general release of Silverlight 1.1.

Scripting languages such as JavaScript and Python have become popular for Web application development. Microsoft has shown its willingness to accommodate these languages on .Net. Hugunin promoted the DLR as giving developers choice.

"It's so important because people like writing code in these [scripting] languages and we want to let people write code in the languages they like to write code in," Hugunin said. "I found the experience of getting to write Python code that ran in the browser just so much fun compared to writing AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) code, which always felt incredibly painful to me."

"Letting people code in the language that they're most productive in is really important," he said. Developers also can communicate even if they are using different languages in the DLR, he said.

The DLR features three pieces: a shared type system to call functions, a shared hosting API, for hosting in a browser, and helpers for compiler writers to ensure that code runs fast, Hugunin said.

Reflecting on his development of IronPython, Hugunin said he had to be true both to the language as well as to integration with .Net. "The hardest thing about doing IronPython was this balancing act," said Hugunin.

Code samples for the DLR can be found here.

Meanwhile, the market is emerging for tools to move Flash content to Microsoft's Silverlight platform for graphical, multimedia applications.

Electric Rain at Mix07 announced Harmony v1.0, an application converting Flash to Microsoft-based XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language). Developers can convert Flash SWF files for graphics and animations to XAML markup for immediate use in Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight platforms.

"The idea is that all these agencies and companies have been designing and they have an arsenal of Flash assets," such as Web sites, said Michael Soucie, president and CEO of Electric Rain.

Also at Mix07, IdentityMine announced availability of a community technology preview (CTP) of its Blendables Essentials product release. Plugging into Microsoft's Expression Blend design tool, Blendables Essentials helps Windows application developers and designers enhance WPF applications.

Featured in the first CTP is a control enabling content to be panned in any direction or zoomed in or out. Other controls offer a 3D elyptical layout, drag-and-drop capabilities and visuals such as pie charts.