Big crunchy JVM news

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 14.16.50Generally, the release of an API document slips under the radar – but, in case you haven’t already seen it on Hacker News, there’s been a release from Apple that’s grabbed the attention of a number of JavaScripters. Within, big Mac crew detail their exploratory work into using the JVM language as a task automator in the Yosemite version of OS X.

Task automation is a time saving feature in Apple’s OS X operating system which allows users to script automate repetitive tasks with AppleScript. Using this proprietary language, the scripting process if simplified by the use of natural language. Essentially, Apple are now working on allowing you to do the same thing in OS X Yosemite with open source JavaScript – and that’s a pretty big deal.

Before you dismiss this as simply a matter of superficial semantics, consider what it means for JavaScript as a language. Recently, we’ve seen the language steadily trickle into a number of core operating systems. With Node, JavaScript permeates the server itself, placing it in the heart of the infrastructure of huge corporations such as Walmart and Groupon. With Apple’s official endorsement, it’s fair to say that the trendy newcomer has well and truly consolidated its position among the top seeds.

On top of an API for installing apps and interacting with the OS, Apple have implemented an Objetive-C bridge, allowing JavaScripting devs to work directly with native libraries like Cocoa. The host environment also brings, among others, properties for automation, application, Path, Progress, ObjectSpecifier, delay, and console.log.

It should be noted that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen JavaScript in the iOS.There’s the JavaScript Bridge in iOS 7, which allows you to call Objective C methods from JavaScript. This development has helped enable projects like NativeScript, allowing you to compose the UI and execute Objective-C right down at the very lowest rungs of the stack.

We’ve seen a lot of discussion about what it would mean if Apple would break its privateering mindset and open source Swift. With JavaScript as a key, the door would be opened for a whole new generation of self-taught developers to tinker on the iOS and generating a raft of potential new innovations – meanwhile the big fruit gets to continue to enjoy its proprietary ways. On the other, all these new projects might lead to the dreaded Android style “device diversity,” something that the Swift and Objective C warders have to date been incredibly successful in guarding against.

Of course, with the terrain of mobile as bitty and scattered as it is, there’s a very valid argument that very few people who develop in JavaScript are really yearning to get their hands on the iOS. But on a more macro scale, think about what it would mean if there truly was a write-once, run-everywhere for mobile. As JavaScript continues its slow march across the enterprise, gathering powerful leagues of backers on either side of the JVM divide, just think of the amount of projects that would be generate to help bridge this chasm.


Image by Anthony Thomas Bueta

 

JavaScript’s Creep Towards “Write Once, Run Everywhere”

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