Ruby luster readied for Java

Developers at Sun target May for 1.0 release of JRuby, the Jave implementation of the Ruby language

Engineers at Sun are eyeing May for the release of a 1.0 version of JRuby, which provides a Java implementation of the Ruby language.

In a presentation at TheServerSide Java Symposium in Las Vegas Thursday, JRuby project developers Charles Oliver Nutter and Thomas Enebo, who are Sun engineers, noted Sun's Ruby plans. They also cited Sun efforts to support the Rails framework and PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) in native forms on the Java platform.

Ruby is a popular dynamic scripting language. The JRuby project was started in 2002 by developers in Germany, Nutter said. JRuby is easy to learn and powerful, according to Nutter and Enebo, and has been available in a pre-release form with another pre-release version planned for March.

"Primarily, we're looking now to make Ruby a first-class language on the JVM," Nutter said.

JRuby developers this month also plan to round out features of JRuby, such as native Unicode support and Java integration. The JIT (just in time) compiler will be enabled by default this month. April plans call for deciding on the final features for the 1.0 release as well as a major bug-hunting push.

Future directions for JRuby include Ruby 2.0 bytecode support and leveraging the HotSpot JVM to speed execution.

A symposium attendee said that while he is not against JRuby, he did not see it is as being enterprise-ready yet. JRuby currently is at the level of where Java was in 1995 or 1996, said the attendee, Martin Franklin, an architect at Intuit who said he worked on the Java project at Sun when it was first released in 2005.

"I think it’s got a ways to go yet before we would use it in the enterprise with Java," Franklin said. Better integration capabilities are needed, Franklin said. He added he also needed information on issues like profiling and debugging with JRuby.

In one slide, Nutter and Enebo pointed out that they believe Ruby on Rails to be a better choice than PHP for the enterprise. They cited security and maintainability concerns.

The JRuby on Rails project leverages JRuby for use in the Ruby on Rails Web framework. Nutter said.

"Its basically just Ruby on Rails using JRuby instead of the C implementation," Nutter said. Rails-like integration is planned for Enterprise JavaBeans and SOA.

JRuby also is envisioned as a replacement for the Struts framework. "Generally, I don't know anybody who really likes programming in Struts anymore," said Nutter.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.