A language for Java developers

Xtend 2.3 beta arrives – make room for another JVM language

Chris Mayer
xtend-logo-1

Eclipse announce first beta of their statically-typed Java embracing venture

There’s been a fair bit of anticipation and X-citement (we’ll
stop with the overt attempts to be ‘1990s cool’) over Eclipse’s
latest version of Xtend 2.3, set to form part of the Juno release
train. Now, alongside Milestone 6, we get a glimpse at what it can
do through a beta.

Big things have been promised for tooling, as well as over 150
bug fixes, performance improvements and some minor language
enhancements (number literals, varargs, etc.). 

Many may well question why Xtend even exists amongst a
bevy of other JVM languages, but Xtend’s key draw is its ability to
compile straight to readable Java code. They have been pretty open
about their heritage and don’t intend to kill Java – but rather
embrace it, so says the website.

A nifty update is that debugging is now a transparent process
meaning as Xtend generates Java source code, the user can
even switch back and forth between the generated Java source and
the original Xtend source at will. A ‘special Eclipse view’ allows
the user to inspect which parts of the generated Java code are
derived from which segments of Xtend code in forensic-level
detail.

Furthermore, the new Eclipse plug-in for Xtend now
integrates seamlessly with Eclipse’s Java Development Tools (JDT),
to really live up to the self-proclaimation that Xtend has ‘state
of the art Eclipse tooling’. There’s the new
‘Generated Code’ view too, which shows the generated
code and marks the correct ranges corresponding to the current
selection in the Xtend editor. A really helpful addition that
allows you to fully understand the linkup between Xtend and
Java.

Originally created in 2004
to add functionality to classes, Xtend is a
statically-typed, functional and object-oriented programming
language targeting the JVM. Unlike other Java alternatives though,
Xtend compiles to readable Java source code, provides
state-of-the-art Eclipse integration and is 100% compatible with
existing Java libraries and frameworks. It cuts out some aspects of
Java such as the redundant type interference and progresses other
things such as lambda expressions and enhanced DSL support. Hence
the motto:

Embrace Java…but
kill the noise…and add some sugar

The road ahead for the Xtend team is extensive testing to
improve stability and performance as with many Juno releases.
Sven Efftinge
says that they ‘are extremely happy with the beta version’ and hope
to get a lot of feedback from the community to address any
outstanding issues ahead of June’s full arrival. The beta
version is now available for through the following Eclipse p2
update
site: http://download.eclipse.org/modeling/tmf/xtext/updates/composite/milestones/

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