Friday, May 19, 2017

N4JS Becomes an Eclipse Project

We’re proud to announce that N4JS has been accepted as an Eclipse Project and the final official steps are underway. Our team have been working very hard to wrap up the Initial Contribution and are excited to be part of Eclipse. The project will be hosted at https://eclipse.org/n4js, although this currently redirects to the project description while our pages are being created. In the meantime, N4JS is already open source - our GitHub project pages are located at http://numberfour.github.io/n4js/ which contains articles, documentation, the source for N4JS and more.

Some background information about us:
N4JS was developed by Enfore AG, founded in 2009 as NumberFour AG by Marco Boerries. Enfore’s goal is to build an open business platform for 200+ million small businesses and to provide those businesses with the tools and solutions they need to stay competitive in a connected world.

Initially, JavaScript was intended as the main language for third-party developers to contribute to our platform; it runs directly in the browser and it’s the language of the web! One major drawback is the absence of a static type system; this turned out to be an essential requirement for us. We wanted to ensure reliable development of our platform and our own applications, as well as making life easier for third-party contributors to the Enfore platform. That’s the reason why we developed N4JS, a general-purpose programming language based on ECMAScript 5 (commonly known as JavaScript). The language combines the dynamic aspects of JavaScript with the strengths of Java-like types to facilitate the development of flexible and reliable applications.

N4JS is constantly growing to support many new modern language features as they become available. Some of the features already supported are concepts introduced in ES6 including arrow functions, async/await, modules and much more. Our core team are always making steady improvements and our front end team make use of the language and IDE daily for their public-facing projects. For more information on how the N4JS language differs from other JavaScript variants introducing static typing, see our detailed FAQ.

Why Eclipse?
For us, software development is much more than simply writing code, which is why we believe in IDEs and Eclipse in particular. We were looking for developer tools which leverage features like live code validation, content assist (aka code completion), quick fixes, and a robust testing framework. Contributors to our platform can benefit from these resources for their own safe and intuitive application development.

We tried very hard to design N4JS so that Java developers feel at home when writing JavaScript without sacrificing JavaScript’s support for dynamic and functional features. Our vision is to provide an IDE for statically-typed JavaScript that feels just like JDT. This is why we strongly believe that N4JS could be quite interesting in particular for Eclipse (Java) developers. Aside from developers who are making use of N4JS, there are areas in the development of N4JS itself which would be of particular interest to committers versed in type theory, semantics, EMF, Xtext and those who generally enjoy solving the multitude of challenges involved in creating new programming languages.

What’s next?
While we are moving the project to Eclipse, there are plenty of important checks that must be done by the Eclipse Intellectual Property Team. The Initial Contribution is under review with approximately thirty Contribution Questionnaires created. This is a great milestone for us and reflects the huge effort involved in the project to date. We look forward to joining Eclipse, taking part in the ecosystem in an official capacity and seeing what the community can do with N4JS. While we complete these final requirements, we want to extend many thanks to all at Eclipse who are helping out with the process so far!