December 20th, 2005

For the coders

I've recently completed my first Jython project. Jython is a hybrid programming environment. you write code in Python using the editor of your choice, and then compile it into .class files which can be run in the Java virtual machine. You can use all of the standard java libraries, as well as anything else you write yourself. You can also compile Python into .class files and then import this code and use it in a Java application just as you would a JAR file.

Python can be written very quickly, has very clean and maintainable syntax, and has a deep set of libraries comparable to Perl's CPAN. Java has the benefits of strict typing and the dominant mindshare. You can pick the parts you like about either language and play to their respective strengths. The fact these two can be made to play nice together is a miracle and a testimony to the design of the languages and the Jython team. In the near future I hope to do a more detailed posting explaining the process and providing some concrete examples. In the near term it made an otherwise daunting project into an education and a pleasure, with good results produced quickly.

In other geek news:
I don't work in an office much any more. Instead my office is a cell phone, email and instant messenger. Each is appropriate for different purposes. But instant messenger lives in a stone age of artificial barriers that phones and email left behind ages ago. By analogy with the telephone imagine if people with Verizon couldn't call folks on AT&T who in turn couldn't call folks on Sprint.

Gaim is an instant messenger (IM) like Yahoo, AOL, or MSN but in fact it works on all of those and many more. Using it makes is possible to talk to to anyone on any IM network. Gaim version 2.0 is freshly out in Beta and I've been using it for a few days. Even the 1.x versions have served me well for years, but the development team has done a total rewrite for 2.0, based on the fact that IM is turning into a sort of telephone (aka VOIP). I've turned a few friends and coworkers onto gaim, and its macintosh sister project Adium. The beta works great for me and might be worth trying if you're curious.