Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? One of the staples of any developer's code-optimization toolkit is a compiler, which checks your program's syntax, semantics, and other aspects for errors and otherwise optimizes its performance.
Infostructure Associates' Wayne Kernochan explains in an October 2014 TechTarget article that compilers are particularly adept at improving the performance of big data and business-critical online transaction processing (OLTP) applications. As recent developments in compiler technology point out, the importance of the programs goes far beyond these specialty apps.
Google is developing two new Java compilers named Jack (Java Android Compiler Kit) and Jill (Jack Intermediate Library Linker) that are part of Android SDK 21.1. I Programmer's Harry Fairhead writes in a December 12, 2014, article that Jack compiles Java code directly to a .dex Dalvik Executable rather than using the standard javac compiler to convert the source code to Java bytecode and then to Dalvik bytecode by feeding it through the dex compiler.
In addition to skipping the conversion to Java bytecode, Jack also optimizes and applies Proguard's obfuscation in a single step. The .dex code Jack generates can be fed to either the Dalvik engine or the new ART Android RunTime Engine, which uses Ahead-of-Time compilation to improve speed.
Jill converts .jar library files into the .jack library format to allow it to be merged with the rest of the object code.
In addition to streamlining compilation, Jack and Jill reduce Google's reliance on Java APIs, which are the subject of the company's ongoing lawsuit with Oracle. At present, the compilers don't support Java 8, but in terms of retaining compatibility with Java, it appears Android has become the tail wagging the dog.
Competition among open-source compiler infrastructures heats up.
The latest versions of the LLVM and Gnu Compiler Collection (GCC) are in a race to see which can out-perform the other. Both open-source compiler infrastructures generate object code from any kind of source code; they support C/C++, Objective-C, Fortran, and other languages. InfoWorld's Serdar Yegulalp reports in a September 8, 2014, article that testing conducted by Phoronix of LLVM 3.5 and a pre-release version of GCC 5 found that LLVM recorded faster C/C++ compile times. However, LLVM trailed GCC when processing some encryption algorithms and other tests.
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