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New Native Languages

, May 08, 2012 D, Go, Vala, and Rust: A new generation of native languages.
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Rust is an alpha-release language developed under Mozilla's aegis. It is designed specifically for writing large systems that run on Internet-based servers. As a result, it contains strong support for parallelism including immutability and actor-based messaging. The actor implementation forgoes the usual need for copying data before sending it to an actor by using something called "boxes." Boxes, which can be owned by only one owner, contain the data. So, actors simply transfer ownership of the box to pass the data along. This is conceptually similar to mutexes, but with an orderly transfer of control and no option for waiting for a box. Predictably, Rust also has safety mechanisms, such as an enforced prohibition on null or dangling pointers. At one time, there was legitimate concern about the small size of the team Mozilla dedicated to the language (principally, a single individual), but the group was recently expanded to six full-time developers — indicating that Mozilla intends to make the language a central part of its future technology.

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