I wanted to give you a brief update on how things are going in the Elements universe. It’s been almost two months since we shipped our last update to Elements 8.1, and a lot has been going on since then.
The team has been really hard at work on Elements 8.2, which will be another significant feature update. We don’t have an exact timeline for release — and we feel we’re not in a particular rush because the progress has been available to you via our weekly beta drops, and because latest betas have been pretty stable and suitable for production work. But we’re shooting for a final release somewhere towards the end of October or early November.
So what’s been happening for 8.2?
The most recent (and, to me, most exciting) change is tvOS. Apple introduced tvOS only last week as its fourth major development platform, allowing Cocoa developers to create apps for the new Apple TV. Yesterday, less than a week since it’s been announced, we dropped a new beta of Elements with full Apple TV support (in Fire). It’s been a busy week, and we’re really proud to have made that happen.
Using Elements build .1845 you have all the tools you need to build tvOS apps — from project templates for all three languages to support for running on the tvOS Simulator and (hopefully) on real hardware (we haven’t been able to test on real hardware since we haven’t receive our develop kit yet, but we’re pretty confident it’ll work — and of course we’ll test more and provide updates in subsequent weeks, once we can test).
We’ve also been putting the finishing touches on watchOS 2.0 support. A bit more to do there still, as we’re waiting for some changes to make it into the public LLVM repository, but there’s enough there to get you started, including project templates and the full build chain. Build .1845 also adds support for Bitcode (for all three platforms that support it, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS where is mandatory for App Store submissions).
Already since last week’s beta, Elements is also ready for the new iOS 9.1 beta SDK, and includes the final .fx files for iOS 9.0 and OS X 10.11 “El Capitan”.
The compiler team has been making great progress on Swift 2 support as well. We have most of the new features and syntax changes covered already, and expect to tackle the rest in the next couple of weeks, so that Elements 8.2 will ship with full Swift 2 compatibility. At the same time, we’ve updated our Objective-C importer to know and understand all the new metadata that Apple has been adding to its SDKs, so Elements (all three languages) now knows a lot more about the nullability of the Cocoa APIs. We’ve extended Oxygene and C# to inter-operate better with this as well, and the languages have gained full support for non-nullable types on all three platforms, including .NET and Java.
Speaking of .NET, Elements 8.2 will be adding support for Windows 10’s “Universal Application Platform” that lets you create apps for Windows and Windows Phone alike. On a more traditional level, we’re expanding WinForms support out to Silver and RemObjects C#, so that you can now use any of the three languages for that (until now, C# and Swift only supported WPF for Windows GUI development). We’re also updating the toolchain to the very latest ASP.NET MVC6.
Java and Android are more settled platforms and not much exciting new has happened on the outside, in the past half year (at least when compared to the Cocoa and .NET world). But we’re continuously improving the tool chain for all three languages on Java as well. We’ve improved a lot of things under the hood, and we’re also making sure Elements works well with the latest and greatest new Android SDKs, with “Android M” coming out soon.
And of course i have not even mentioned Fire yet. It’s about half a year now that the public Fire Preview is out there for all of you to enjoy, and feedback has been tremendous. I hear from many of you that you are really enjoying working in Fire, and that means a lot.
Fire has been improving on an almost daily basis, with our weekly beta updates including the very latest state. And most beta dos are pretty solid for production use.
A lot has changed and improved since the current public “8.1” preview, from major new features such as the new Debug Inspector pane or “reformat on paste”, to a relentless list of minor tweaks and improvements that keep making every aspect of Fire better, down to the teensiest detail (like how inline error messages now move with your code as you type near them).
I’m planning a separate post/email that covers Fire’s progress to be posted later, and we’ll also have a separate look at what’s going on on the Data Abstract/RemObjects SDK 9.0 front, next week (which Fire also offers deep integration for).
How to get the latest?
Remember, you have access to the latest weekly beta builds, including Fire, if your Elements or Suite Subscription is up to date and active. If you let your subscription lapse, now is a great time to renew, for immediate beta access and a fresh new year of updates to Oxygene and C#.
The Silver and Fire beta is also available to everyone who contributes to Silver, so that’s a good way to get in on the action – and show your support of Silver in general.
Elements 8.2 is shaping up to be a very exciting release (and we haven’t even begin talking about what we have planned beyond.
Thanx for reading,