In an enlightening conversation with Beta Ziliani, Team Lead and Product Manager at Manas, a programming language Crystal was mentioned that aims to combine the best of both worlds – dynamic and static typing. Billed as a “language for humans and computers”, Crystal is known for its syntax which is highly readable and a compiler that ensures the generated programs are efficient.
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- Crystal is a programming language inspired by Ruby, designed to be easy to write and read while being efficient for computers.
- It uniquely adds duck typing and monkey patching to a statically-typed, compiled language.
- Crystal has a growing community and is being used by notable companies like 84codes and Nikola.
Beta Ziliani, who has been leading the development of Crystal for the past two years, shares how the language has been shaped by Ruby. In fact, the name ‘Crystal’ is rooted in the precious gemstone, reminiscent of Ruby. The primary motivation behind Crystal’s creation was to amalgamate the flexibility of Ruby with the type safety and efficiency of languages like Java and C#.
Unique Language Features
Crystal shines with its amalgamation of dynamic and static typing. Duck typing, one of Crystal’s features, allows the calling of a method on an object without declaring it in the object’s interface. Monkey patching, another feature, permits the alteration of existing classes to change their behaviour. Importantly, Crystal’s type checker ensures any errors introduced are promptly caught.
The language also supports a variety of operating systems including macOS, Linux, and BSDs. Windows support is nearing completion. Crystal is also compatible with Intel and ARM-based chips, with partial support on Android and WebAssembly.
Robust Applications and Community Growth
Crystal can be used to build a plethora of applications, from programming languages and video game music players to web frameworks. The community, though mid-sized, is rapidly growing with over 18.5k stars on GitHub, 2k daily page views on the forum, and more than 400 contributors.
The immediate goal for Crystal is polishing Windows support, and bolstering multi-threading, and community growth. Manas. Tech has also launched a Crystal Ambassador program and is planning a conference this year.
Crystal programming language is poised to become a valuable tool in the programmer’s kit, thanks to its elegant combination of readable syntax, like Ruby, and efficient statically-typed programs. With a growing community and the backing of notable companies, Crystal is a language to watch.
Exploring Crystal’s Type System: Understanding Static Typing
After learning about the overall appeal of the Crystal programming language, it’s imperative to delve into one of its core features – static typing. Beta Ziliani spoke of Crystal striking the right balance between dynamic and static typing. But what does this entail?
Static typing involves defining the type of a variable at compile time. This means that the compiler is aware of the type of data a variable can store and can therefore optimize the generated code for performance. Crystal incorporates static typing but also includes some features typically associated with dynamic typing, such as duck typing and monkey patching.
One of the great things about Crystal’s static typing is that it has a powerful type inference mechanism. This means you don’t need to explicitly state the type of every variable; the compiler is smart enough to figure it out in most cases. This makes the code cleaner and more readable while still gaining the performance benefits of static typing.
Furthermore, Crystal’s type checker ensures that any type errors, such as trying to assign a string to an integer variable, are caught at compile time, saving you from runtime errors and making the code more robust.
In summary, Crystal’s type system is designed to give you the best of both worlds – the ease of coding associated with dynamically typed languages, and the performance and robustness associated with statically-typed languages. Whether you are a seasoned programmer or just starting, Crystal’s type of system is designed to make your coding experience pleasant and productive.
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