Community, Haxe

WWX 2014 follow up – thoughts on haxe

I just came back from the World Wide haXe conference held in Paris this weekend and want to share my thoughts.

I’ve been evaluating haxe as a viable option for my company’s daily development other times in the past as I really think the language is great and the technology has a huge potential.
What always made me choose for a different solution was the lack of tools, the focus on the gaming industry, and the lack of documentation.
So I left for Paris with a defined set of questions and got a range of answers from very disappointing to mind blowing.

Let’s start with the good news, and let’s talk about

Case histories

what to say… I’ve been mind blown, two huge success stories and both OUT  of the gaming industry.

Documentation

The haxe foundation (finally) decided to focus on documentation and rolled out

Tooling

I’ve been VERY bothering throughout the whole conference about tooling, I asked almost all speakers about the tools they used in the daily development.
Coming from 5 years across IntelliJ, Visual Studio, Xcode and Eclipse I feel the need for a major IDE and a working automated build pipeline for my technology of choice.

I got quite disappointed by the choice of the haxe foundation to focus the effort in sponsoring yet another haxe IDE , only for haxe development, namely HIDE https://github.com/as3boyan/HIDE, instead of focusing on a major IDE support.
I got even more disappointed when more and more speakers and attendees were trivialising what I felt as a major issue and were pointing out that sublime text is simply “good enough”.
Luckily business stories are choosing a different approach and both TiVo and Prezi showed they’re using intellij for development, and the guys from TiVo said that the work to be done on that plugin is still quite a lot, for instance there’s no unit test runner.
Tools are far from being at the level of other languages, but luckily all of them are open source and can be improved by the community, and at the time writing it is possible do what a mature language environment should allow:

Even if the road is still uphill we can spot the top getting nearer.

Other news

More news were presented, briefly:

  • there’s a brand new python target
  • it’s now possible to script Unity from haxe, thanx https://twitter.com/cwaneck
  • there’s plenty of new libs and macros https://github.com/jdonaldson/promhxhttps://github.com/ciscoheat/haxedci  are just few
  • an interesting “twisted” point of view of “haxe as compiler target” bubbled up from the community in the person of https://twitter.com/ElliottStoneham
  • new version of OpenFL (even though it wasn’t presented at the conference it’s worth mentioning) 
  • NME is still alive! I thought NME became OpenFL but they’re just two different projects and now the haxe foundation is trying to merge the effort of the two teams
  • Date and String encoding issues are the next thing to fix in the TODO list of Haxe for the upcoming year
  • short lambdas!!! (no, just kidding)

here’s the link to the slides of the keynote http://ncannasse.github.io/hxslides/www/wwx2014.html

Conclusion

I had good time in Paris, got answers to all of my questions and I came back thinking Haxe is a viable option for a business, even if tools are still quite not there the power of the technology is worth enough to give it a shot.
If I had to set a TODO list for haxe it would look like this:

  • fix language problems on String encoding and Date object
  • focus on getting BIG PLAYERS involved, hire a CEO, move to the US. Exit the startupper garage and think big.
  • focus on tools:
    • intellij plugin experience should be near to java\as3
    • maven mojo is still behind
    • focus on conversion tools from * to Haxe (TiVo moved to haxe also because most of the “dirty job” was automated)
  • focus on community: encourage the creation of user groups in key locations

Last but not least, once again I was very impressed by the vibrant community that drives this technology, thank you all guys for your effort to make this technology grow better and better, and a special thanx the whole crew of SilexLabs to have organized the event.

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