JRuby to live on after Sun-Oracle merger, engineer says

A developer cites improvements to the technology as a reason why the open source project will live on

JRuby, a Sun Microsystems-driven implementation of the Ruby language for the Java Virtual Machine, is being used in a range of applications including one to battle infectious diseases. But like other Sun technologies, it remains to be seen how Oracle, which plans to buy Sun, will deal with it.

Still, a key developer of JRuby, Sun Senior Staff Engineer Charles Nutter, expects open source JRuby to do just fine. "I think JRuby, since it's an entirely open source, community-driven project, is going to live beyond any uncertainty that might come out of this," Nutter said during an interview Tuesday at the RailsConf 2009 conference in Las Vegas.

While stressing he had no idea what would transpire between Oracle and Sun, Nutter added that he knows JRuby will survive.

Oracle announced its intentions to buy Sun for $7.4 billion last month. Although the company has shed little light on what it intends to do with the many Sun technologies, Oracle has been positive about Java.

JRuby, particularly when paired with the Ruby on Rails framework, has been finding its way into critical applications. In addition to running on the Google App Engine cloud platform, the state of Utah is using JRuby on Rails in an open source application to fight infectious diseases, Nutter said. JRuby also is being deployed in a refueling application at the Oslo airport.

"Not only is JRuby refueling planes, we're actually battling swine flu," Nutter said during a presentation at the conference.

Work continues on upgrades to JRuby. Version 1.3 is planned for release next week and features fixes for Google App Engine and performance work.

JRuby 1.4, anticipated for release this summer, will focus on Java integration to make it easier to integrate directly on Java frameworks and call Java libraries, Nutter said.

Another capability eyed for JRuby 1.4, dubbed Nailgun, will help JVM startup times by maintaining a "warm" JVM in the background, Nutter said.

"We will also have a compiler that allows you to run Ruby code into a normal Java class that you can construct and call methods on," said Nutter. "The benefit of that is you can integrate Ruby code into any part of a Java stack and you'll never know that it's actually Ruby code running."

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