Nerval's Lobster writes: While this month's lists of the top programming languages uniformly put Java in the top spot, that's not the only detail of interest to developers. Which language has gained the most users over the past five years? And which are tottering on the edge of obsolescence? According to PYPL, which pulls its raw data for analysis from Google Trends, Python has grown the most over the past five years—up 5 percent since roughly 2010. Over the same period, PHP also declined by 5 percent. Since PYPL looks at how often language tutorials are searched on Google, its data is a good indicator of how many developers are (or aren't) learning a language, presumably because they see it as valuable to their careers. Just because PYPL shows PHP losing market-share over the long term doesn't mean that language is in danger of imminent collapse; over the past year or so, the PHP community has concentrated on making the language more pleasant to use, whether by improving features such as package management, or boosting overall performance. Plus, PHP is still used on hundreds of millions of websites, according to data from Netcraft. Indeed, if there's any language on these analysts' lists that risks doom, it's Objective-C, the primary language used for programming iOS and Mac OS X apps, and its growing obsolescence is by design.
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An anonymous reader writes: The Astoria project at Microsoft has failed because a breakthrough was needed to overcome the complexity of the software development challenge. Microsoft tried to automate mapping the Android UI into the Windows 10 UI and to map Google services within the app such as maps, payments and notifications into Microsoft equivalents. Automated conversion of a UI from one platform to another has never been successfully demonstrated. When I first saw Microsoft's Android bridge at Build 15, I thought it was achievable. But project Astoria, as it is called, is much too complex. Drawing on my architectural knowledge of the underlying Microsoft/Lumia hardware that is very similar to Android phones.I concluded that in the context of partitioning the device or running a VM Microsoft would succeed. But Microsoft tried something much more ambitious. Rather than "failed," The Next Web reports that for now the project may have only been delayed.
theodp writes: A year after it paid $2.5 billion to buy Minecraft, Microsoft has announced a partnership with Code.org that makes a Minecraft-themed introduction to programming a signature tutorial of this year's Hour of Code, which hopes to reach 200 million schoolchildren next month in what the Microsoft-funded nonprofit is billing as the largest learning event in history. "A core part of our mission to empower every person on the planet is equipping youth with computational thinking and problem-solving skills to succeed in an increasingly digital world," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a press release, which also notes that "Microsoft is gifting Windows Store credit to every educator who organizes an Hour of Code event worldwide." Of the Minecraft tutorial, Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi gushed, "Compared to what you would otherwise be doing for school, this is, like, the best thing ever."
An anonymous reader writes: In an article titled "Scrum is dead: breaking down the new open development method," Ahmad Nassri writes: "Among the most 'oversold as a cure' methodologies introduced to business development teams today is Scrum, which is one of several agile approaches to software development and introduced as a way to streamline the process. Scrum has become something of an intractable method, complete with its own holy text, the Manifesto for Agile Software Development , and daily devotions (a.k.a., Scrum meetings). Although Scrum may have made more sense when it was being developed in the early '90s, much has changed over the years. Startups and businesses have work forces spread over many countries and time zones, making sharing offices more difficult for employees. As our workforce world evolves, our software development methods should evolve, too." What do you think? Is Scrum still a viable approach to software development, or is it time to make way for a different process?
snydeq writes: From unstructured data mining to visual microphones, academic labs are bringing future breakthrough possibilities to light, writes InfoWorld's Peter Wayner in his overview of nine university projects that could have lasting impact on IT. 'Open source programmers can usually build better code faster, often because they have bosses who pay them to build something that will pay off next quarter, not next century. Yet good computer science departments still manage to punch above — sometimes well above — their weight. While a good part of the research is devoted to arcane topics like the philosophical limits of computation, some of it can be tremendously useful for the world at large. What follows are nine projects currently under development at university labs that [could] have a broad impact on the world of computing.'
An anonymous reader writes: I've been working in tech as a software developer for about 15 years. As I've gotten older I'm starting to see the appeal of living in a city that's not crazily blown out and expensive like most established tech markets (think San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Los Angeles, etc.). Are there are any good tech job markets that are normal, affordable, livable, American cities, or am I forever doomed to be subjected to the rat race found in these overheated and overcrowded markets? Lots of cities have at least some vibrant tech scene; Omaha, NE, Raleigh, NC, and Ann Arbor, MI are three that spring to mind, but everyone's tastes and tolerances will vary. What do you find in your neck of the woods? (Even if it's one of those "crazily blown out" examples.)
theodp writes: Teaching U.S. K-12 kids their programming fundamentals in past Hours of Code were an IF-fy Bill Gates and a LOOP-y Mark Zuckerberg. Interestingly, the new signature tutorial — Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code — created by Lucasfilm and Code.org ("in a locked room with no windows") for this December's Hour of Code, eschews both IF statements and loops. The new learn-to-code tutorial instead elects to show students "events" after they've gone through the usual move-up-down-left-right drills. With the NY Times and National Center for Women & Information Technology recently warning against putting Star Wars in the CS classroom ("Attracting more female high school students to computer science classes might be as easy as tossing out the Star Wars posters," claimed an Aug. 29th NCWIT Facebook post), the theme of the new tutorial seems an odd choice for Code.org, whose stated mission includes "increasing [CS] participation by women." But if Star Wars is, as some suggest, more aimed at boys, perhaps Code.org has something up its sleeve for girls (a la last year's Disney Princesses) with another as yet unannounced signature tutorial that it teased would be "just as HUGE" as the Star Wars one. Any guesses on what that might be?
Nerval's Lobster writes: A new study from Course Report suggests that boot camps are introducing more women to the tech-employment pipeline. Data for the study came from 769 graduates from 43 qualifying coding schools (a.k.a. boot camps). Some 66 percent of those graduates reported landing a full-time job that hinged on skills learned at the boot camp. Although the typical "bootcamper" is 31 years old, with 7.6 years of work experience, relatively few had a job as a programmer before participating in a boot camp. Perhaps the most interesting data-point from Course Report, though, is that 36 percent of "bootcampers" are women, compared to 14.1 percent coming into the tech industry via undergraduate programs. Bringing more women and underrepresented groups into the tech industry is a stated goal of many companies. Over the past few years, these companies' diversity reports have bemoaned how engineering and leadership teams skew overwhelmingly white and male. Proposed strategies for the issue include adjusting how companies recruit new workers; boot camps could also quickly deepen the pool of potential employees with the right skills.
New submitter iamvego writes: A major feature PostgreSQL users have requested for some time now is to have the query planner "parallelize" a query. Now, thanks to Robert Haas and Amit Kapila, this has now materialized in the 9.6 branch. Robert Haas writes in his blog entry that so far it only supports splitting up a sequential scan between multiple workers, but should hopefully be extended to work with multiple partitions before the final release, and much more beside in future releases.
AmiMoJo writes: Mozilla's engineers have announced the removal of Firefox complete themes as a way to lighten the browser core and remove a feature they don't see as heavily used any more. "Personas", or lightweight themes that are basically just wallpaper images, will remain. The Firefox community did not respond well to this piece of news, most seeing it as the engineers "chromifying Firefox." The change is part of Mozilla's Great-or-Dead initiative, which plans to simplify the Firefox codebase and remove features that are not popular.
Jeff Atwood is an author, entrepreneur, and software developer. He runs the popular programming blog Coding Horror and is the co-founder of Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange Network. In early 2012 he decided to leave Stack Exchange so he could spend more time with his family. A year later he announced his new company the Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc. and the Discourse open-source discussion platform which aims to improve conversations on the internet. Jeff has agreed to give some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
smaxp writes: Google has announced the open source release of TensorFlow, its machine learning software library. "TensorFlow has extensive built-in support for deep learning, but is far more general than that -- any computation that you can express as a computational flow graph, you can compute with TensorFlow (see some examples). Any gradient-based machine learning algorithm will benefit from TensorFlow’s auto-differentiation and suite of first-rate optimizers. And it’s easy to express your new ideas in TensorFlow via the flexible Python interface." This comes alongside some dramatic speed increases (PDF). The code is available at GitHub under an Apache 2.0 license. "Deep learning, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are all some of Google's core competencies, where the company leads Apple and Microsoft. If successful, Google's strategy is to maintain this lead by putting its technology out in the open to improve it based on large-scale adoption and code contributions from the community at large.
New submitter shakah writes: The NY Times has a straightforward summary of how the H-1B Visa system is being gamed by companies inside and outside of the United States. Particularly interesting for me was their clarification on the argument that "VISA holders have to make prevailing wages, so they won't depress wages." Quoting: "Under federal rules, employers like TCS, Infosys and Wipro that have large numbers of H-1B workers in the United States are required to declare that they will not displace American workers. But the companies are exempt from that requirement if the H-1B workers are paid at least $60,000 a year. H-1B workers at outsourcing firms often receive wages at or slightly above $60,000, below what skilled American technology professionals tend to earn, so those firms can offer services to American companies at a lower cost, undercutting American workers."
digitalPhant0m writes: Six years ago today the Go language was released as an open source project. Since then, more than 780 contributors have made over 30,000 commits to the project's 22 repositories. The ecosystem continues to grow, with GitHub reporting more than 90,000 Go repositories. And, offline, we see new Go events and user groups pop up around the world with regularity And Opensource.com notes that Mozilla Firefox has just hit 11 years of age, too.
theodp writes: "Mnemonic operators," writes SAS's Rick Wicklin as he weighs the pros-and-cons of Symbolic Versus Mnemonic Logical Operators, "tend to appear in older languages like FORTRAN, whereas symbolic operators are common in more recent languages like C/C++, although some relatively recent scripting languages like Perl, PHP, and Windows PowerShell also support mnemonic operators. SAS software has supported both operators in the DATA step since the very earliest days, but the SAS/IML language, which is more mathematically oriented, supports only the symbolic operators. Functionally, the operators are equivalent, so which ones you use is largely a matter of personal preference. Since consistency and standards are essential when writing computer programming, which operators should you choose?"