Java alternative

Java alternative Xtend is back with another block-rocking update

JAX Editorial Team

The realm of JVM-alternatives remains an exciting one. Version 2.7 of the JVM alternative brings a number of nice new features and performance updates.

Xtend 2.7 has landed. But what else can we expect other than the usual bugfixes? Some nifty features, of course. And even more: there’s also a round of IDE performance improvements that Xtend is bragging about. At the same time, the DSL framework Xtext has also received an update that is matched to Xtend 2.7. So let’s take a closer look at what makes Xtend so special, and what the latest version brings.

Xtend vs Java

Xtend started out in 2011 with a controversial claim to fame: the programming language promised its users “Java 10, today”. Back then the Java 7 update had just disappointed users with mostly cosmetic changes, while Xtend was lighting up the eyes of many a Java developer with Lambda expressions, operating overloading and macros.

But the hype slowly dwindled away, as it always does. Java 8 has since caught up with some of the innovation many developers wished of it. But even if it’s no longer blowing programmer minds, Xtend still has its edge – mostly prominently its ability Xtend is translated into readable Java source code (and not Bytecode). That means you don’t need no special frameworks, because all Java APIs can be used just the way they are. The interoperability couldn’t be better.

Xtend 2.7

The release announcement for Xtend 2.7 is somewhat more modest, claiming to be an “Open-source extension for Java”. Back in its heydey, some were even calling it the JVM’s answer to CoffeeScript. The Xtend team itself recently claimed to be a programming alternative for Android, comparing itself to Apple’s Swift.

Many changes in Xtend 2.7 are related to support within the Eclipse IDE. Thanks to its proximity to Eclipse’s DSL framework, this was already one of the strength of Xtend. Now the language has tightened its screws: For example, processes running in the background are stopped once a text is modified again, which is said to make a noticeable improvement to response times.

The Active Annotations API has also been revisited, which can influence the translation of Xtend code into Java. Xtend 2.7.0 has also added several new annotations, for instance the @Accessors annotation can automatically create getter and setter methods for fields.

Xtent 2.7

The foundation of Xtend is the DSL framework Xtext, which lets you build your own programming language, including a professional IDE support. Xtext 2.7 has also finalised the JVM Model Inferrer from Xbases that fills in the gaps of a language with Java expressions and integrates Java classes. What’s more, its relationship with Xcore (a DSL for creating EMF models) is also said to have been improved.

Getting started with Xtend

You can read up on the details of the new versions in the release notes for Xtend 2.7 und Xtext 2.7. If you feel like diving further into Xtend right away, check out Sven Efftinge’s session from the JAX 2013 below.

Program code image via Shutterstock

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