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The Ceylon Language Is Now Eclipse Ceylon

| by Abraham Marín Pérez Follow 7 Followers on Sep 08, 2017. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

The Ceylon Language, the language created by Red Hat for the Java and JavaScript virtual machines, joined the Eclipse Foundation to become Eclipse Ceylon on 21st August. The rationale behind this move, as indicated in the official announcement, is to distance the project from the Red Hat brand and ensure an image of vendor-neutrality in the hope to attract more collaborators to it. This is not an uncommon move within the industry, with projects like Eclipse MicroProfile taking the same route.

InfoQ reached out to Gavin King, lead of the Ceylon Project at Red Hat, to know more about the logistics of the move. Despite the decision being formally taken and announced, the actual donation of the entire codebase is still being dealt with. "Ceylon has a very large codebase, comprising multiple interdependent projects, so this is a significant amount of work", King mentions. The good news is that the work comes with new opportunities: the Eclipse Foundation has some rules regarding package naming which are going to affect Ceylon’s runtime, making new versions binary-incompatible with the previous ones. King is planning to use this to make some profound changes to the language.

"The next version of Ceylon should be 1.4, but now is looking more like Ceylon 2.0; it seems the first release of Ceylon at Eclipse is going to be a pretty exciting one, with some hugely significant improvements", Gavin King

Whenever a private company creates a new programming language, the communities that form around it tend to wonder whether the long-term development of the language will be tied to the commercial strategy of the company behind it. This is particularly important when we look at other popular examples in the Java ecosystem: JetBrains, for instance, has publicly admitted that one of the reasons to create Kotlin, their own JVM and Android language, is to drive further sales into the Enterprise Edition of IntelliJ IDEA. King believes that the perception of Ceylon belonging to a particular vendor has harmed adoption, which prompted the decision to create some distance between the two. Of course, the fact that Red Hat is handing over Ceylon to the Eclipse Foundation doesn't mean they won't be involved any more; however, and while both Gavin King and Stéphane Épardaud (also at Red Hat) will continue to lead the project, they do expect new contributors to join and take leadership roles.

Ceylon has been featured in many international conferences and industry reports, like The Adventurous Developer’s Guide to JVM Languages by Rebel Labs, but its usage is still low according to indexes like TIOBE. Time will tell whether the transfer to the Eclipse Foundation will be enough to change this.

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