Crystal – A Ruby-esque programing language

Present and Absent

As with any new technology, a new programming language has to demonstrate, by way of practical examples and genuine projects, that it adds the value promise. To this end, pages on GitHub collect programming examples [11]; "awesome Crystal libraries, tools, frameworks, and software" [12], including web frameworks (e.g., Kemal, Moonshine, Amatista, and Amethyst), database connectors (e.g., MySQL, Postgres, MongoDB, and SQLite3), editor plugins (Atom, Emacs, Vim, Sublime), and more; and gems like Hoop [13], which generates native OS X applications.

As of this writing, Crystal only uses one thread to execute programs, but the developers have promised improvements in the near future. Crystal will also be given simple primitives for handling multiple threads that manage parallel processes with the help of SELECT, WAIT, and GROUP.

The current version of Crystal also lacks support for the LLDB [14] debugger included in the LLVM project, which supports simple code debugging at the command line.

Conclusions

After three years of development, Crystal has not yet reached version 1.0; right now, the documentation mainly originates from the developers themselves. Crystal also lacks the major league projects needed to steer people willing to make the change. Pure speed is not top priority for all projects. If you want to develop fast and robust back ends with a Ruby-style syntax, you are more likely to go for Elixir [15]. JRuby is used when corresponding Java libraries are called for, and languages like Apple's Swift [16] are more likely to assert themselves for mobile devices.

Right now, the developers at Manas are using crowdsourcing [17] to gather funds for the further development of Crystal that would let them finish some of the current construction sites. In future, Crystal might prove to be an interesting alternative to programming in C and C++, especially when the need arises to port existing and critical code to embedded platforms for the Internet of Things.

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