JRuby gets speedier in version 1.7

JVM-based Ruby variant also features support for different character encodings

JRuby, which provides a version of the Ruby language to run atop the Java Virtual Machine, is being enhanced performancewise via an upgrade released as a preview this week, a developer who co-leads the JRuby project said on Thursday.

Version 1.7 of JRuby, unveiled at the JRubyConf 2012 technical conference in Minneapolis, features InvokeDynamic capabilities from the standard version of Java 7, said Charles Nutter, a co-leader of JRuby. "That allows us to tell the JVM exactly how Ruby works, how it makes calls, so that it can optimize them like Java calls," Nutter said. "All of the optimization work that's gone into making Java fast can now apply to Ruby." InvokeDynamic was touted in Java 7 as supporting implementation of dynamically typed, object-oriented languages, such as Ruby.

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Also featured in JRuby 1.7 are capabilities from the 1.9 version of the Ruby language, chiefly support for different character encodings. "Previous versions of Ruby didn't handle non-ASCI text well, and now they do a much better job of it," Nutter said. JRuby is downloadable at JRuby.org. A general release of JRuby 1.7 is anticipated in a couple of months.

Meanwhile, Nutter and JRuby co-developer Thomas Enebo are leaving employment at Ruby and PHP cloud platform vendor Engine Yard, where they have worked for about three years. They will take up similar responsibilities at Red Hat beginning on June 4, Nutter said. "We felt like it's a good time to make a move. Red Hat's doing a lot of multilanguage work." He cited as an example Red Hat's JBoss application server plug-ins that allow Ruby applications to leverage the server. The departures from Engine Yard are amicable, Nutter said. Prior to Engine Yard, Nutter and Enebo worked at Sun Microsystems, which has since been acquired by Oracle.

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