Tom posted the announcements already, but JRuby 1.0.0RC3 is out in the wild! This release is our most important yet, because we intend for this release to become JRuby 1.0. The only things that will change from now until a 1.0 final release later this week would be any showstopping bugs that are extremely low-impact to fix. In general, RC3 should be nearly identical to 1.0 final.
So what does this mean for JRuby? We've taken the approach of calling the JRuby 1.0 release the "Ruby compatible" release. Basically, all known application bugs caused by JRuby incompatibilities with Matz's Ruby (MRI) have been resolved. This doesn't mean there aren't more compatibility bugs; there probably always will be, and we have probably 50-80 in the bug repository right now (and another 80 bugs or enhancements that are JRuby-specific). But it does mean that most applications should "just work" out of the box, and any application failures we knew of have been resolved. In general, the remaining post 1.0 bugs are edge cases and minor correctness issues, like obscure forms of core methods or missing error conditions.
We've tried very hard to make this both a solid release and a stepping stone to JRuby's future. With this release, we can confidently say that we're Ruby 1.8.5 compatible. Any additional fixes we need to make (like the known issues) are in the last 1% of Ruby features we can potentially support. We also recognize that this is a big moment for JRuby. People can start counting on JRuby to run their Ruby applications correctly. Of course many in the JRuby community have already been doing this for many months, but the 1.0 moniker says to the world we feel like we're ready for prime time.
So what comes after 1.0? That breaks down into a few areas:
- Performance. JRuby's performance has come a long way in the past year. We've increased speed by at least an order of magnitude, and have enabled the JIT compiler for the 1.0 release. This means that for many cases where JRuby can compile Ruby code, it will perform faster than Ruby 1.8.5. The general case is still a little muddy, though. We've had anecdotal reports that JRuby on Rails in a Java application server performance extremely well, and other reports that general Ruby applications perform somewhat poorly. The general performance situation is not well-understood, but we all agree there's a lot more work to be done. And the good news is that we have a big list of optimizations remaining to continue improving JRuby's specific and general performance.
- Java Integration. JRuby does an excellent job of fitting into the Java platform. In almost all cases, you can call libraries, implement interfaces, and extend classes with no difficulty. But there are edge cases--usually nonstandard or antipattern Java--that JRuby doesn't behave as nicely. The code to enable calling Java is also far more complicated than we'd like. To solve both issues, we'll be taking the existing Java integration syntax and API and backing it with a redesigned library. Expect to see something of this work in a 1.1 release later this year. Our goal is to achieve excellent integration with Java, on par with the most tightly-integrated JVM languages available today. And we're not far off.
- Ruby 2.0 and Rubinius. We intend to start supporting Ruby 2.0 and Rubinius bytecode execution soon, though the Ruby 2.0 work is much farther along. We intend to catch up the Rubinius work as well as to try adopting some of Rubinius's pure Ruby implementations of core class functionality. We also plan to enable the use of Ruby 2.0 features through configuration and command-line switches to JRuby. Specify something like -J-Djruby.string.version=2 and all strings in the system will be treated as Ruby 2.0 strings, with full character semantics. Or optionally turn on experimental Ruby 2.0 syntax for lambdas and named parameters. Basically we want to bring JRuby up to the bleeding edge of Ruby features, to provide another platform where people can get a feel for what Ruby 2.0 might look like. More exposure for these features will help Matz and Co. decide the best way to move forward. And that's good for everyone.
But there's one more area I should talk about: how you can get involved.
JRuby is a community project. The core committers play traffic cops as much as developers, routing patches, examining bugs, documenting features. The only way a project like JRuby succeeds is through mass community involvement. We've been extremely lucky to have a constant flow of interested developers into our community, even when OSS community attrition has been very high. The community may look completely different from month to month, but the flow of patches and bugs has steadily increased.
For folks just getting started, I've written a few articles on the JRuby wiki that should help you understand the development process. They're linked from the front page under "Getting Involved".
For easy bugs, I'd recommend looking in the JRuby JIRA for bugs with "rubinius" or bugs reported by Daniel Berger. The Rubinius bugs are almost all problems we've had running Rubinius's excellent specs, and usually represent minor incompatibilities with C Ruby. Daniel's tests are a lot of those edge cases I mentioned...he's running through his own test suite and reporting any incorrect behavior that's come up. Another option would be to just pick your favorite Ruby app and start running its test cases with JRuby. You're sure to find something interesting to report, and it may be an easy fix.
For non-Java-coders (or folks afraid of hacking on JRuby), stop by the RubySpec Wiki and update or author an article. RubySpec is an effort to build a community-driven specification of Ruby that all users and implementers can freely reference. It is linked from the RubyDoc site and is fast becoming a standard way for the community to record language and library behaviors. I believe this is the best and fastest way for us to form a complete specification of Ruby's behavior...and I believe such a specification is becoming extremely important, what with there now being 5-10 different implementations of Ruby, all guessing at what "correct" is. Have you written RubySpec today?
Well that's about it for this release report. If all goes as well as I think it will, JRuby 1.0 final should be released some time this week. Give it a try, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!