Crystal Language That Aims at C Performance with Ruby Syntax Releases 1.0

Crystal Language That Aims at C Performance with Ruby Syntax Releases 1.0

Crystal, a new object-oriented, compiled systems programming language that aims to blend the conciseness and friendliness of Ruby with the efficiency of C, recently released its first major version. Crystal 1.0 has a syntax close to Ruby’s and features statically inferred types, C bindings, and macros. Crystal may attract developers with a Ruby/Rails, Elixir/Phoenix background.

Crystal, a new object-oriented, compiled systems programming language that aims to blend the conciseness and friendliness of Ruby with the efficiency of C, recently released its first major version. Crystal 1.0 has a syntax close to Ruby’s and features statically inferred types, C bindings, and macros. Crystal may attract developers with a Ruby/Rails, Elixir/Phoenix background.

While full compatibility with Ruby is stated as a non-goal, Crystal has a syntax similar to Ruby’s. The Fibonnaci function can be written in Crystal as follows:

Crystal compiles to native code using LLVM under the hood. While Crystal does not publish any benchmark on its site, the user community has reported encouraging results, some of which have been highly commented on on Hacker News.

Everything in Crystal is an object, i.e. an entity that has a type and that responds to some methods. The pieces of state encapsulated in objects can only be accessed by invoking methods. Crystal’s type system allows null reference checks, method (and operator) overloading, union types, generics, enums, aliases, splats, tuples, and more. The compiler uses type inference to minimize the need for developers to explicitly write types. Developers may however have to help the compiler with type annotations in some occurrences. Explicit types additionally can be useful as documentation and may speed up significantly compilation times.

Crystal lets developers reuse the large existing C ecosystem with C bindings, without having to write C code. An example is as follows (assuming the say_hi_c directory contains a C object file that contains a hi function):

Crystal’s macro system simplifies code generation and may be used to reduce boilerplate. Crystal currently supports message-driven concurrency (with fibers communicating via channels ) but not parallelism. The ability to run the Crystal runtime on multiple cores is on the roadmap, together with ARM support, and availability on Windows. Building fully statically linked executables is currently only supported on Alpine Linux.

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