iOS support

Mar 30, 2015. | By: Bret

I was intending to post more often, but you know how those things sometimes go. One reason for the delay is that we’ve been spending a lot of time with the launch of our two Garage apps: Join Conference and SquadWatch. Check them out.

Anyway, I’ve been continuing to work on iOS support, via Java -> Objective C++, conversion. And folks sometimes about the rationale for that, as opposed to say Swift conversion. So I wanted to write up the evolution of my thinking, below:

  1. At first (like a year ago) I was all keyed up to use the Google j2objc translator. Then a couple things happened:
    • I used it and wasn’t that crazy about the output code not being all that human friendly—that’s not a huge deal, but it goes against the JUniversal philosophy I trumpet of the output code being very human friendly / nearly idiomatic.
    • More importantly, Swift got announced last summer, so it was clear then that Objective C would eventually fade away, though it may take years.
  2. So then I was ready to implement a Java -> Swift translator. And I actually started that & did a fair amount of implementation there. It’s in the JUniversal code base now & I may end going back to it & finishing. But one key issue there is that Swift doesn’t support exceptions. There’s enough push back around that in the community (as Objective C code can throw exceptions but Swift can’t catch them) that I think there’s a good bet that Apple will add exception support in the next year or so. But they haven’t yet & I didn’t really want to map Java exceptions to error returns, especially if it’s just a temporary thing. So I want to see how it all settles out with Swift. Plus, at least last year, Swift clearly had some more maturing to do—it was kind of buggy & had performance issues. It’s better now, I think, but not perfect.
  3. So then I thought, why not just do C++. That’s well supported in XCode (even more so than all other platforms, because ObjC and Swift are natively compiled by the same tool chain). And most importantly it’s a standard, so it can be used in several other scenarios too beyond iOS (like Windows or Android for performance critical code and even other platforms like running on Raspberry Pi). So there’s a lot of bang for the buck there, with C++. From programming language syntax perspective, C++ is (arguably) about as friendly to Java developers as Swift is to them, at least when they just have to look at the code & not author. It’s certainly better than Objective C at least. And I had done a lot of work on a Java -> C++ translator earlier, so I went back to finish that.

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Public preview underway

Jan 26, 2015. | By: Bret

Alright! Our buddy Eric over at MSOpenTech posted about JUniversal to his blog, so our public preview is now underway.

At this point, we’re looking for pilot users and feedback. Have questions or comments? Please share them below.

Want to try it out, as a pilot user? Please do. Here’s the deal: You’ll likely run into some rough patches along the way, but in exchange for that you’ll get one on one help from us, getting things working work your app. We need that feedback to improve things. So please both try it, via Getting Started, and reach out to us as you have questions and issues, so we can help you & fix up the doc / code for everyone thanks to your feedback. Reach via any of the contact mechanisms on the Contact page or by posting below.

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