This year brought quite a few headlines of note to the developer world. While we each have our favorites, from new releases of classic tools to astounding announcements from tech companies, here, in no particular order, are a few stories that stood out to us this year.
In the comments, we’d love to know what stories stood out most to you this year, partly to indulge our sense of gratuitous end-of-year nostalgia and partly to help us hone our coverage for 2011, when we hope to bring you more fascinating web dev news than ever before.
What were your favorite dev-related headlines of 2010?
1. The Release of Rails 3.0
Early in February, the Ruby on Rails core team took the wraps off Rails 3.0, a long-awaited release of the popular Ruby framework.
Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson wrote on the Rails blog, “We’ve had more than 250 people help with the release and we’ve been through almost 4,000 commits since 2.3 to get here. Yet still the new version feels lighter, more agile, and easier to understand.
“It’s a great day to be a Rails developer.”
2. Salesforce’s Acquisition of Heroku
Earlier this month, Salesforce bought Heroku for a staggering $212 million, giving another token of legitimacy to the growing Ruby community as well as to cloud-based programming tools.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said at the time, “The next era of cloud computing is social, mobile and real-time… Ruby is the language of Cloud 2, and Heroku is the leading Ruby application platform-as-a-service for Cloud 2 that is fueling this growing community. We think this acquisition will uniquely position Salesforce.com as the cornerstone for the next generation of app developers.”
3. Facebook’s Release of HipHop for PHP
In February, Facebook rolled out HipHop, an internal open-source project intended to speed up PHP for large-scale applications.
HipHop isn’t quite a compiler. “Rather,” wrote Facebook engineer Haiping Zhao, “it is a source code transformer. HipHop programmatically transforms your PHP source code into highly optimized C++ and then uses g++ to compile it.”
The project was the culmination of two years of work by a small team of engineers; in the end, it got a thumbs-up from PHP creator Rasmus Lerdorf, who said, “I think it is a cool project and it will certainly be a good option for some sites.”
4. The Rise of Node.js
Commits have grown, as have the number of committers. Traffic to the project website has steadily climbed through the year, and downloads for Node.js from GitHub have predictably grown, as well.
As the organizers of the annual Node Knockout wrote, “It’s at the bleeding edge of a technology stack that allows developers to blur the lines between software, the web and the new like never before.”
5. Microsoft’s Release of Visual Studio 2010
The latest version of Microsoft’s Visual Studio, a big release by any standards, launched this year to impressive reviews from all corners of the web. InfoWorld said the release “marks a major advance in functionality and ease,” and The Register wrote, “It is hard not to be impressed by Microsoft’s tool suite.”
The IDE was overhauled, completely rewritten from the ground up. Support for Silverlight was added, and Microsoft also took this opportunity to release F#, a new programming language developed by Microsoft Research.
6. Facebook’s Release of the Open Graph API
Facebook and social app developers have long wrestled with Facebook integration for third parties. In the spring at its f8 developer conference, Facebook rolled out a brand new model for tapping into the social web, and it did so to unprecedented fanfare.
Dubbed the Open Graph, Facebook’s changes brought instant gratification and familiarity for Facebook users as they surfed the web — and they brought a fast and easy way for devs to integrate with the social network, as easy as a single line of HTML in many cases.
7. The Android/Java/Oracle Saga
What a year it’s been for Java! Not only is the language a key part in the programming stack of the fastest-growing mobile OS out there; it’s also the star of a big, potentially spendy lawsuit between two of the giants of the tech industry.
Sun, which developed the language in-house back in the dark ages, was acquired by Oracle. That deal became official in January, and Oracle wasted no time in getting litigious with Google over that company’s use of Java in the Android platform and the Dalvik virtual machine that stands in for the JVM on mobile OSes.
The lawsuit began in August with Oracle claiming that Google “knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property.”
Google quickly countered that it was shocked — shocked! — that Oracle would make such claims over an open-source technology. It followed with the assertions that Oracle’s patents are unenforceable and that if there had been “any use in the Android platform of any protected elements” of Java, Google itself “is not liable” due to the fact that such violations would have been committed by third parties and without Google’s knowledge.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on the lawsuit and on Java’s role in the Android platform throughout 2011.
8. Apple Declares War on Flash
Tensions between Apple and Adobe ran high this year, beginning in January when the iPad launched without support for Flash. Then in February, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told employees why: “No one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5.”
These were the words that launched a thousand blog posts. Throughout the spring, the two companies waged a war of words — and one sweet antitrust inquiry with the Department of Justice over Apple’s banning of Flash for iPhone app devs.
Steve Jobs dropped the bomb of the year in a passive-aggressive missive on Flash in which the Apple co-founder stated that Adobe’s programming technology is “no longer necessary” and waxed hypocritical about open technologies.
But while he may have been passive aggressive and hypocritical, he also may have been right. With HTML5 making a strong showing early in its lifetime, it was only a matter of time before a public figure of Jobs’s stature would make a statement or two about the death of Flash.
Of course, this tension has made for a convenient cozying-up between Google and Adobe along the way.
What Are Your Picks?
Again, let us know in the comments what your favorite stories of 2010 were — and Happy New Year from the geeks at Mashable!
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