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Julia takes the spotlight

All eyes on Julia: The language’s growth and creators’ AMA

Sarah Schlothauer
julia
© Shutterstock / Tracy Whiteside

Julia is seeing some growth. This open source language deserves the attention that it’s getting. Its creators recently did an AMA, revealing some answers and tips. Let’s take a look at what they had to say!

On August 10, RedMonk looked at programming language rankings for June 2018. The top languages came as no surprise to many, with the usual faces of JavaScript, Python, PHP, and C# in the top 10. However, in their ranking notes, one language caught their eye and got a specific mention. Julia should be on your radar.

RedMonk reports: “This quarter Julia jumped three spots to 36, which is its fourth consecutive quarter of growth (36, 39, 40, 52). It’s certainly not on a Kotlin or Swift path, and the esoteric nature of the language may yet relegate it to niche status, but its steady performance has put it back on the map as one to watch.”

Meanwhile, the developers of Julia took to the stage on Reddit for an Ask me Anything. Jeff Benzanson, Stefan Karpinski, Alan Edelman, Viral B. Shah, and Keno Fischer answered questions from the community about the language’s creation, growth, and some inside scoops.

Between the growing success of the language, and a recent v1.0 release, Julialang is making a name for itself in the busy world of programming languages.

Let’s take a look at the AMA for some highlights!

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SEE ALSO: Top 5 IDEs for Julia

Recommended Julia packages

When asked by Reddit user sinsecticide about their favorite packages, the team gave some tips on what they suggest.

  • Interact.jl: Interactive widgets such as sliders, dropdowns and checkboxes to play with your Julia code
  • Generic Linear Algebra: Extend linear algebra functionality
  • UnicodePlots.jl: Unicode-based scientific plotting for working in the terminal
  • Colors.jl: Color manipulation utilities for Julia
  • Revise: Automatically update function definitions in a running Julia session
  • BenchmarkTools: A benchmarking framework
  • StaticArrays: Framework for providing statically sized arrays
  • OhMyREPL.jl: Syntax highlighting, bracket highlighting, and rainbow brackets
  • Nemo: Computer algebra package

Learning from mistakes

No language is perfect, especially right out of the box. Reddit user perturbater asked the team about hindsight: what were the best and worst decisions they’ve made?

Benzanson responded, “Best decision was to make a multiple-dispatch-based language. For a brief period in the beginning that wasn’t 100% clear. Multi-methods and external dispatch seemed cool, but we had no idea just how incredibly useful and powerful they would be. Worst decision: make all text in the terminal bold :-P Thankfully we fixed that.”

Plans for the future

What’s in store for the future?

When asked about the plans for v2.0, Keno Fischer responded that, “Figuring out the multi-threading model over the 1.x time frame should lead to it being amazing in 2.0. I’m also looking forward to getting better tooling. There’s some amazing things we’ve been talking about for a very long time with respect to profiling, debugging, better error messages etc. Other than that, there’s some amazing things happening in the ecosystem and I think the primary emphasis of 2.0 should be whatever support those packages need from the core language.”

There is no set release date for v2.0 as of right now, though the projected years given were 2020-2022.

Keno Fischer alluded to the future when he answered a question about convincing large companies to use Julia for their machine learning stack. “We’re talking to all the large companies but many of them have significant NIH syndrome until something gets super popular. That said, a few of them are seriously evaluating Julia, so hopefully something will come out of that.”

Studying materials

Looking to brush up your skills? Here are some of the materials that the team suggested for people learning about computer programming or trying to develop a language of their own. Besides these, the best tool is of course, to practice.

SEE ALSO: Can Julia give us everything?

Who is Julia?

Here’s the question we have all wondered. Who is Julia named after?

The answer differs from person to person. While Viral B Shah says that Julia comes from an older project that Jeff Benzanson named and there is no meaning behind it, Benzanson responded tongue-in-cheek:

“We’ve made up various different stories. But the more I think about it this tweet got it right: https://twitter.com/fcollective/status/1027313313913495552

Julia Child lived in the Cambridge, MA area. And I like to think that, the same way she brought good cooking to an American public that had been largely deprived of it, we try to bring good programming language techniques to kinds of computing that haven’t seen enough of them. I also do enjoy her recipes. I make her champignons farcis fairly often :)”

A hearty thank you to the creators of Julia! May this open source language continue to do great things.

Author
Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is an assistant editor for JAXenter.com. She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University in Long Branch, New Jersey and is currently enrolled at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany where she is working on her Masters. She lives in Frankfurt with her husband and cat.

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