JVM Language Summit 2009: Stars and Starlets

Sven Haiges

The JVM Language Summit 2009, a conference dedicated to the advancement of programming languages executing on top of the JVM, took place at the Sun Santa Clara Headquarters from September 16 – 18. The summit was not only open to the core contributors of the various languages that are nowadays running on top of the JVM, but also to general public (for a 150$ registration fee). As a key idea of the conference is to collaborate across all supported languages and share knowledge, there were a couple of workshop-style sessions in which small groups with similar interest could get together and discuss topics in a more private setting.

Not having been there last year, it is hard to judge how the summit developed, but I have definitely been impressed by the concentration of ‘language knowledge’ at the summit. There was virtually every important language present which runs on the JVM: JRuby, Clojure, Scala, Jython, Groovy and a few others, some which were introduced at the conference itself.

Among the new languages (well, at least for most of us) are Noop (pronounced noh-awp) and Ioke. On day one, Alex Eagle from Google presented the Noop language. Noop is a ‘language experiment that attempts to blend the best lessons of languages old and new, while syntactically encouraging industry best-practices and discouraging the worst offenses’. Noop has built-in support for dependency injection and testability, but also the fact that Google is a supporter of this new language, caused it to gain a lot of interest and attention.

On day 2, Ola Bini positioned Ioke as a language experiment, too. The ultimate goal is expressiveness, the least important thing at this point is performance. Mutability is at the core of Ioke, meaning it strongly opposes Scala or Clojure, languages for which immutability is very key. He also explained why he calls Ioke a ‘folding language’. The code can be seen as a piece of paper, which then can be folded until the non-essential features are no longer visible.

Besides languages, there were many other talks at this year’s JVM Language Summit. Have a look for yourself at the agenda. Sun promised to fix some issues with the Wiki, so there is hope that soon all presentations will be available. There are a couple of short videos already available on Youtube.  

If you are interested in the Groovy language, the author of this item and Andres Almiray sat down with Jochen Theodorou, the Groovy Project Tech Lead, for the Grails Podcast Episode 95 which is now available. Also check out the live-blogging transcript, both the interview and the blog are available at

Sven Haiges
Sven Haiges is a Java professional, currently live in the bay area (Sunnyvale, CA) and work for Yahoo! Inc. Since 2006 he is actively podcasting about Groovy, Grails and Griffon and is interested in new languages in general.

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