JRuby Serial Interview 5: Groovy Party Day

Posted by Nick Sieger Tue, 30 Jan 2007 01:52:04 GMT

This is part 5 in our ongoing conversation tracking the development of JRuby.

As part of the Worldwide Groovy 1.0 Release Party Day, we at the JRuby team tip our hats in celebration and give our thoughts on our sibling JVM dynlang.

Another recent announcement is that of Groovy finally hitting the 1.0 milestone. What do you make of this -- what goals do you have in common with the Groovy effort, but also, where do you diverge?

Thomas Enebo: I think it is great that Groovy released their 1.0. That number is an important mystical number that affects people in various ways and probably most importantly tells the world that you think it is ready for production work. I am sure Groovy has been at this point for quite a while so it is good to see the project endorse themselves like this.

Groovy, like JRuby, is about providing another choice on the JVM for solving problems. I think the ramifications of this statement yield most of what we have in common.

We differ largely by the fact that we are making an alternative implementation of a language while they started their language from scratch. The fact that we need to bridge two languages that were designed in isolation from each other generally reflects our differences. We get a set of libraries and applications from this other community while they need to create their own community and value-adds. They had the freedom to make integration with Java jive better while we need to cope with the various differences between Ruby and Java. Both directions yield postives and negatives.

Ola Bini: Well, it’s very nice to see JVM-languages mature. I’m not sure exactly what this 1.0-release actually entails, but we in the JVM language league are in this together, and the progress of one language is good for everyone. The goals that we have in common is first and foremost to improve the Java integration aspect in such ways that it will be easy for both Ruby and Java developers to use it intuitively, preferably in a more succinct and readable way than corresponding Java-code. But we diverge in what we’re willing to do to achieve that. JRuby is a Ruby implementation first and foremost, which means the only things we add are things that can be implemented in Ruby (except for those base Java primitives needed to get it up and running).

Charles Nutter: I think one are we hold in common is that neither of us believe Java is enough of a language to solve all problems. Groovy offers a different perspective on language design, adding many dynamic-style language features on top of a syntax that’s mostly just Java. You can use types or not, use semicolons or not. They have similar literal syntax for lists and maps, similar closure semantics, and in some ways a similar feel to other dynamic languages. For folks that fear moving away from Java or need to know their code compiles down to Java classes and integrates intimately with Java class hierarchies, Groovy is a great way to go. It’s excellent that they finally got their 1.0 release out, and as Ola mentioned it shows that dynamic languages are making their presence known in a big way.

We diverge in that Groovy is certainly not Ruby.

In our work on JRuby, we’ve taken an alternative approach from Groovy, in that we believe Ruby is a better language than we could design ourselves (or design based on Java with dynlang features) and so we aim to support pure Ruby as closely as possible. This limits us somewhat in our ability to tightly integrate with Java classes and Java’s type hierarchies, but it also frees us to do all the amazing things you can do with open classes, metaprogramming, DSLs, and the like.

Another area we differ from Groovy is in the size of the greater Ruby community. There are many thousands of people worldwide using Ruby right now, dozens of conferences devoted to Ruby and Ruby on Rails, and a growing library of books on the same. The Groovy guys have a challenge ahead of them to build a community around a very young language; I hope we can help them get there!

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