Category Archives: DConf

D News Jan-Mar 2022: SAOC 2021, D 2.099.0, DConf ’22

Digital Mars D logo

The first three months of 2022 brought some major milestones:

  • Symmetry Autumn of Code 2021 came to an end on January 15, but the judges didn’t render a decision until the middle of February. And what a surprise it was!
  • The D Language Foundation announced in January that we were hiring for a vacant position sponsored by Symmetry Investments, and in February we found the person to fill it.
  • Also in February, we made a long-awaited announcement regarding DConf.
  • In early March, D 2.099.0 was released.

That’s a pretty solid start to 2022, and most of it was made possible thanks to the generous contributions of Symmetry Investments. If you’re looking for a job, Symmetry is always hiring, including D programmers!

And now on with the news.

Symmetry Autumn of Code 2021

We started SAOC 2021 with five participants, each working on projects that would be of value to the D community. Three of them were unable to make it to the end. So it came down to two: Teodor Dutu and Luís Ferreira. Teodor was working on converting DRuntime hooks to templates, and Luís on getting support for D into LLDB, the LLVM debugger.

SAOC is sponsored by Symmetry Investments. Each year, participants promise to work on their projects at least 20 hours per week across four month-long milestones. At the end of each of the first three milestones, a panel of judges evaluates their progress to decide if they pass or fail. A passing participant is awarded a $1000 payment and allowed to continue in the next milestone. A failing participant might be given a reduced payment or none at all, and removed from the event or given a warning, depending on the circumstances leading to the failure. At the end of the fourth milestone, the judges evaluate the overall progress of each participant across the entire event and select one to receive a final $1000 payment and a free trip to DConf.

For the first time in four editions of the event, the SOAC 2021 judges were unable to agree on who should receive the final rewards. It was a three-judge panel, each of whom is a veteran of every edition of SAOC: Jon Colvin, Átila Neves, and Robert Schadek. Two of them split, and the third felt there wasn’t enough to make either of the two participants stand out above the other. Teodor and Luís both did their work, wrote detailed milestone reports, and kept up with their forum updates to the same degree. So the conflicted judge took a proposal to Laeeth Isharc of Symmetry: why not award both candidates the final payment and the DConf trip?

Congratulations to Teodor and Luís on being the first dual recipients of the final SAOC reward. They have continued working on their projects, and we look forward to seeing the work they do in the future. Thanks to all of the SAOC participants, mentors, and judges, and to Symmetry Investments for sponsoring the event every year.

The New Pull Request and Issue Manager

For over a year, Razvan Nitu has been working hard at closing Bugzilla issues and merging pull requests in his role as our Pull Request and Issue Manager. His position is sponsored by Symmetry Investments, which provided funding for two such positions. Unfortunately, real-world circumstances conspired to prevent the person selected for the second position from filling it, so it remained vacant through most of 2021.

At the beginning of this year, Symmetry committed to continuing funding for both positions (as well as a different position, that of my assistant, filled by Max Haughton). In January, we put out a call for applications. In February, we announced that Dennis Korpel was selected for the job. His proven track record as a volunteer contributor to the core D repositories made him the top contender.

Dennis officially started his new job on March 1, and he hit the ground running. We’re happy to have him on board.

Tell them about it–#dbugfix

Razvan and Dennis are here to make sure the bugs are fixed and pull requests are merged. If you have an issue that’s bugging you because it’s been open for ages, or if you feel like a pull request should be getting more attention, let them know! That’s what they’re here for.

One way you can do that is by tweeting the issue number along with #dbugfix. We initiated this hashtag a while back so that D users could bring attention to specific issues, but then the hard part was finding someone with the time and inclination to fix it. Now, with both Razvan and Dennis paid to make sure issues get fixed, the hard part is a lot easier. You can also post about issues in the forums or email social@dlang.org, and I will make sure that they see it.

Razvan and Dennis have their criteria for deciding their priorities in the absence of input, but if you bring an issue or PR to their attention, they will work to resolve it as quickly as they can.

D 2.099.0

Version 2.099.0 of DMD, the reference D compiler, was released on March 6. This is a massive release, containing 20 major changes and 221 closed Bugzilla issues from 100 contributors. Some highlights from this release: D modules can be imported into C code via ImportC; D now has throw expressions; and PE/COFF output is now the default in DMD on Windows. See the changelog for the complete list.

Import modules in C source code with ImportC

ImportC is proving to be a valuable addition to D. Once all the kinks are ironed out and a solution for handling C preprocessor directives is implemented, the need for bindings to C libraries will largely disappear—you’ll be able to bring C headers, and compile C source files, directly into your D programs without any external tools.

As of D 2.099.0, you can also bring D modules directly into C files via the __import keyword.

// dsayhello.d
import core.stdc.stdio : puts;

extern(C) void helloImport() {
    puts("Hello __import!");
}
// dhelloimport.c
__import dsayhello;
__import core.stdc.stdio : puts;

int main(int argc, char** argv) {
    helloImport();
    puts("Cool, eh?");
    return 0;
}

Compile with:

dmd dhelloimport.c dsayhello.d

You can also use it to import C modules that have been compiled via ImportC:

// csayhello.c
__import core.stdc.stdio : puts;

void helloImport() {
    puts("Hello _import!");
}
// chelloimport.c
__import csayhello;
__import core.stdc.stdio : puts;

int main(int argc, char** argv) {
    helloImport();
    puts("Cool, eh?");
    return 0;
}

Compile with:

dmd chelloimport.c csayhello.c

The throw expression has been implemented

For all of D’s lifetime, throw has been a statement and only a statement. It couldn’t be used in expressions because expressions must have a type, and since throw doesn’t return a value, there was no suitable type. This prevented it from being used with the following syntax:

(string err) => throw new Exception(err);

And required this form instead:

(string err) { throw new Exception(err); }

DIP 1034, which introduced a bottom type to the language, provided the means to enable throw expressions: when “a throw statement is seen as an expression returning a bottom type”. As of D 2.099.0, the following code snippet compiles:

void foo(int function() f) {}

void main() {
    foo(() => throw new Exception());
}

PE/COFF is the default DMD output on Windows

For many years, DMD outputs object files in the OMF format on Windows. There’s a story behind this, a large part of it related to the culture of software development on Windows, but it can be summarized in two bullet points:

  • Walter Bright already had a C compiler backend that generated OMF output, a license to distribute OMF link libraries for the Win32 API, and a linker that understands OMF (OPTLINK).
  • There was no de facto system linker on Windows when he started working on D in 1999, so he could not rely on a specific linker being installed.

Reusing the compiler backend and the linker allowed Walter to distribute DMD as a compiler that worked out of the box, without the need to install any further development tools. He felt this was important for D’s early adoption. The downside was that it also restricted DMD on Windows to 32-bit. Eventually, he had to support PE/COFF and require the Microsoft linker in order to support 64-bit output, and he implemented PE/COFF 32-bit at the same time, but he was adamant that DMD continue to work out of the box for those who didn’t want to install the Microsoft Build Tools (for the linker) and Windows SDK (for the Win32 link libraries).

Eventually, OPTLINK started showing its age. Linker errors became more common as D codebases grew. There were calls to enable PE/COFF by default. Finally, someone raised the idea of shipping the LLVM linker, LLD, along with link libraries generated from the MinGW project. This would allow DMD to eventually default to PE/COFF while maintaining the out-of-the-box experience.

DMD has been shipping with LLD for several releases, and it seems enough of the kinks have been worked out that it has been ready to become the default for a while now. Nicholas Wilson finally took the step to make that happen, Walter eventually gave it his blessing, and now PE/COFF is the default DMD output on Windows.

Practically, this means that the -m32mscoff switch has been deprecated, -m32 now specifies PE/COFF, and the new switch -m32omf can be used to produce OMF output if needed (but its OMF support will eventually be dropped). The -m64 switch has always produced PE/COFF output, so has not changed.

LDC

The beta release of LDC 1.29.0 was announced on March 10. This version of the LLVM-based D compiler is based on D 2.099.0+. It includes support for LLVM 13, no longer defaults to the ld.gold linker on Linux (LLD is recommended), and includes a breaking change for the extern(D) ABI. See the full release log for details.

DConf ’22 in London

After an unexpected and unwanted hiatus, DConf is returning to the real world! Hosted once again by Symmetry Investments, we’ll be in London, Aug 1–4, 2022. We’re currently accepting submissions and early-bird registration is open.

Guest keynote speaker

Our guest speaker this year is Roberto Ierusalimschy, Associate Professor at the PUC-Rio Department of Informatics and head designer of the Lua programming language. We’re excited that he’s able to join us. Several D community members have used or are using Lua in their D projects, including the gas dynamics toolkit at the University of Queensland that its maintainers wrote about on this blog. (You can also count me in that group. I’ve used Lua in different capacities over the years, and I maintain a set of D bindings for Lua’s C API).

Roberto was the mentor who shepherded the Origins of the D Programming Language paper through the HOPL IV conference, so he already has a connection to the D community.

I don’t know yet if his talk will be related to Lua, but I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

Registration

Early-bird registration is open until May 31. The base early-bird rate is $352.75 ($423.30 after applying 20% VAT), which is 15% off the general registration of $415 ($498 with 20% VAT). We offer a student discount, a discount for major open source contributors, and a hardship rate. You can register now or learn about the discounted rates at dconf.org.

Talks

At past editions of DConf, we’ve allotted talks in 50-minute blocks with 10-minute breaks in between. This year, we’re cutting that down: we’d like to keep the talks no longer than 40–45 minutes. Part of the magic of DConf is the time spent interacting face-to-face with other D enthusiasts, so it only makes sense to make as much room for that as we can while still allowing for educational and informative presentations.

If you have something related to the D programming language that you’d like to share with the world, please send in a submission. Don’t know what to talk about? Then heed Ali Çehreli, from one of his DConf Online 2020 Q & A sessions:

Coming up with an idea for a talk is as simple as the way you use D. Just look at your code, and it makes a presentation…

If you have used the D programming language, then you have material for a talk: describe your project; talk about specific problems you solved or interesting ways in which you’ve employed language features; expound on the ups and downs of your experience learning D so that others can benefit; and so on. Take a look at the DConf and DConf Online talks available on our YouTube channel for inspiration. Even if you’ve never presented at a conference, we encourage you to send us a submission! Several D community members have given their first presentation at DConf, and we are always happy to see more.

The worst that can happen when you submit a talk is that it isn’t accepted. But if it is accepted, then you’ll be entitled to reimbursement for your transportation to and from London, and your lodging for the five nights of the conference. You get to hang out with people who share your interest in D and most of your expenses are covered, with nothing to lose if your talk isn’t accepted.

Don’t let doubt or hesitation hold you back. You can find submission details at dconf.org.

Venue

DConf ’22 is taking place a nifty venue between Moorgate and Liverpool Street Stations called CodeNode. All of our talks will be in their CTRL room on the first floor, and we’ll have the basement ESC room to ourselves for mingling between talks and during lunch. They have table tennis and foosball tables, and plenty of space in which to chill.

CodeNode isn’t far from our DConf 2019 venue, so the same budget hotels we stayed at then are also within walking distance this year. You can find a list of those and several other budget hotels in the area at dconf.org.

BeerConf!

For every edition of DConf before 2019, we designated one area hotel as the official gathering spot. Many attendees would take rooms there, and a number of us would gather in the evenings in the hotel lobby or bar to chat over drinks and snacks. In one of our Berlin editions, Ethan Watson coined the term “BeerConf” to refer to these evening meetups. In 2019, we couldn’t find a suitable hotel in which to gather, so we hired space in a pub near the venue. When DConf was canceled in 2020, a couple of community members hosted an online BeerConf to make up for the loss of the real-world version, and they’ve been hosting it every month since.

This year, since we’re back in the same part of London, we’re again looking for a space we can rent for BeerConf. We’ve got our eyes on a couple of spaces, and we’re working to secure funding. I hope to have an update on that before the end of April.

In the meantime, keep an eye on the D Announce forum for news of our monthly online version of BeerConf, and consider picking up a BeerConf shirt from our DLang Swag Emporium!

Looking ahead

We’re looking forward to the rest of 2022. One of our big goals for this year is to lay the groundwork for bringing more structure and organization to the D ecosystem. The PR/Issue managers have made a big difference and brought order to a chaotic contribution process, but we still have a long way to get to where we’d like to be.

Soon, I’ll start publishing tutorials on the foundation’s YouTube channel. These tutorials are going to cover more than just the language syntax and semantics. They’ll also dive into the tools we use as D programmers: compilers, linkers, loaders, object files, etc. These days, it’s not unsual for a programmer new to D to have gone years without ever touching a programming language that uses the same compile-link model. Questions about static linking errors, or confusion about compiler vs. linker errors, are not uncommon. These tutorials will be short and focused on specific topics, and will hopefully serve as a means for new D programmers to up their game with the tools they use.

Once I’ve uploaded the tutorials, I’ll apply for our channel to join the YouTube Partner Program so that we can start raising money from the channel. We’re eligible now, but I don’t want to apply until I’ve established a more frequent pattern of updates.

On that note, I’d like to remind you that the D Language Foundation is available to select as a charity for the Amazon Smile program. When you shop via smile.amazon.com, selecting the D Language Foundation as your preferred charity allows us to receive a small percentage of your payment. If you shop at Amazon, it’s an easy way to support the D Language Foundation. You can find browser extensions that will redirect you to smile.amazon.com every time you visit amazon.com, such as Amazon Smile Redirect, which is available for Chrome/Edge and for Firefox. (Amazon Smile charities are domain-specific, so the D Language Foundation is only available through Amazon’s .com domain).

You can also support us by shopping at the DLang Swag Emporium or donating directly via one of the options listed at dlang.org.

We can’t wait to see you in London!

DLang News September/October 2021: D 2.098.0, OpenBSD, SAOC, DConf Online Swag

Digital Mars D logo

Version 2.098.0 of the D programming language is now available in the form of DMD 2.098.0 (the reference D compiler) and LDC 1.28.0 (the LLVM-based D compiler), D has come to OpenBSD, cool things are happening thanks to the Symmetry Autumn of Code, and DConf Online 2021 t-shirts are available for purchase.

Read on for the deets.

DMD 2.098.0

This release comes with 17 major changes and 160 fixed Bugzilla issues from 62 contributors across the core repositories. The number of fixed issues may well be a record high. The 2.097.0 release had 144, and the 2.094.0 release had 119, but a cursory look at several other major releases shows numbers ranging from the high 40s to under 100, with counts in the 50s showing up frequently. This is the sort of trend we were hoping to see when Razvan Nitu came on board as our Pull Request and Issue Manager, and we couldn’t be more pleased.

There are two items of note that I’d like to point out from the new release, and then I have a little more to say about the work Razvan is doing.

ImportC

The ImportC compiler is a major enhancement to D that allows the D compiler to directly compile C source code. Walter has been working on it for a few months now, and this is the first release in which it’s available. ImportC enables the compiler to inline C function calls and even evaluate them at compile time via CTFE. ImportC targets C11 and does not currently handle preprocessor directives, so any C source you do intend to compile must first be run through a preprocessor. It’s not yet complete, but if you have a use case for it, any help in finding and reporting ImportC bugs is welcome. Contributions to fix said bugs doubly so!

Fork-based garbage collector

This release also includes an optional concurrent garbage collector for Posix systems. This is cool in and of itself, but more so because the project came to fruition thanks to the Symmetry Autumn of Code. It was originally developed for D1 by Leandro Lucarella but was never included in an official release (using alternative GCs back then required more than just a simple command-line switch). In 2018, for the inaugural edition of SAOC, Francesco Mecca undertook to port the GC to D2. This resulted in a pull request to DRuntime that was ultimately merged in time for this release by Rainer Schuetze.

To use the new GC, provide the DRuntime option --DRT-gcopt=fork:1 on the command-line of any program compiled against DRuntime 2.098.0+ (this is not a compiler option, but an option to any program linked with DRuntime). It can also be configured programmatically via:

extern(C) __gshared string[] rt_options = [ "gcopt=fork:1" ];

See the D documentation for more GC configuration options.

Shrinking the pull-request queues

Razvan has been managing pull requests across several of our repositories, but he’s been laser-focused on reducing the number of PRs in the phobos and druntime repositories, with dmd his next target. This isn’t just about lowering the PR count. He’s been reviving old PRs with the original author where he can (he tells me he was surprised how many PR authors were responsive, even after no activity on a PR for a few years) and has tried to rebase and resolve those where he can’t. Here are some statistics he’s gathered on PR activity so far this year across the phobos, druntime, and dmd repositories:

  • phobos: 568 PRs created, 650 PRs closed
  • druntime: 283 PRs created, 311 PRs closed
  • dmd: 1140 PRs created, 1126 closed

At the time he sent me the stats on October 29th, the number of open PRs in phobos had gone down from 160 to 77 and druntime from 130 to 96. The number of open PRs in dmd has remained fairly constant at around 230.

We want to thank Razvan for all the work he is doing, Symmetry Investments for sponsoring his position, the volunteer members of the “strike teams” Razvan has assembled to squash as many bugs as possible, and every contributor who has donated and continues to donate their time and effort to improving our favorite programming language.

LDC 1.28.0

The latest release of LDC implements D 2.098.0 (D frontend, DRuntime, and Phobos) and is compatible with LLVM 6.0 – 12.0.

A major item in this release is that LDC now supports dynamic casts across binary boundaries. DLL support has long been a weak point in D, often requiring the programmer to resort to extern(C) functions that return handles (pointers, references) to D objects. Martin Kinkelin has worked to improve the situation in LDC, motivated primarily by the desire to provide the standard library and runtime as a DLL on Windows.

Thanks to Martin and all the LDC contributors for the work they do to keep LDC releases in sync with those of DMD. If you benefit from their efforts, please consider sponsoring Martin (and LDC by extension) on GitHub!

D on OpenBSD

The D ecosystem grows primarily because of the efforts of volunteers who step forward to fill in the blanks. New D projects pop up all the time, but it’s pretty rare to hear that someone has brought D to a new platform. Brian Callahan has done just that.

Brian has been on a mission to bring D to OpenBSD. In August of this year, he popped into the D forums with an announcement that GDC, the GCC-based D compiler maintained by Iain Buclaw, was now available in the OpenBSD ports tree as part of GCC 11. In early October, he let us know that DMD was coming to the platform. Then in late October, he had the same news about LDC. Instructions for installing DMD on OpenBSD are on the download page (and can be extrapolated to LDC and GDC).

We are grateful to Brian for the work he has done to make this happen. We’re looking forward to his upcoming DConf Online 2021 talk, Life Outside the Big 4: The Adventure of D on OpenBSD:

The journey of D from pie-in-the-sky to a package officially offered in the OpenBSD package repository serves as a model story for other platforms who want to offer D to their userbase. We will walk through the many interconnected parts required to get a D package on OpenBSD, what the future is like for D outside the Big 4, how you can get started with D on your platform, and how those of us who enjoy life outside the Big 4 can be a positive force for D and the D community.

SAOC News

The SAOC 2021 progress bar is past the 25% mark. The first milestone wrapped up on October 15, and the participants have been posting weekly progress reports in the General Forum. It’s always interesting to read about the challenges they encounter and their solutions. But the latest SAOC isn’t the only edition about which there is news to report.

I’ve written above about the SAOC 2018 forking GC project that has found its way into the latest release of DRuntime. I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I am that another SAOC project has come into its own.

For SAOC 2020, Adela Vais set out to implement a D backend for the venerable Bison parser generator. Not only did Adela successfully complete SAOC, she saw her project through to its ultimate goal. The D backend was officially released as part of Bison 3.81 in September.

We want to offer Adela our congratulations and a huge round of applause for a job well done! Getting a project of this scope accepted into a GNU codebase is no mean feat.

DConf Online 2021 T-Shirts

DConf Online 2021 is less than a month away. The D Language Foundation will be providing DConf Online 2021 swag to the DConf speakers and prizes to viewers asking questions in the post-talk live stream Q & A sessions. The cost of the items and their shipping are the only DConf Online expenses, and they’re covered by the D Language Foundation General Fund.

Direct donations to the General Fund and our more targeted funds are always appreciated, but you can also help support the D programming language and DConf Online by purchasing a DConf Online 2021 T-Shirt or other D swag in the DLang Swag Emporium. All proceeds go straight into the General Fund. You get some swag along with our gratitude, and we get a couple of bucks. That’s a pretty good deal!

Looking Forward

As we near the end of 2021, we are looking forward to 2022 and beyond. The D programming language, its ecosystem, and its community have come a long way from the gaggle of curious coders who first took an interest in a one-man project by the guy who had created the game Empire and the Zortech C++ compiler.

The primary means of contributing to the core D projects went from emailing patches to Walter, to posting patches on Bugzilla, to committing to a Subversion repository, to submitting pull requests on GitHub. The web site went from being a few basic HTML pages of the D spec on digitalmars.com maintained only by Walter, to a simple HTML site designed by a community member under the dlang.org domain, to the more complex collection of pages and scripts that today is maintained in Ddoc by multiple contributors. The ecosystem has gone from random libraries and tools hosted by individuals on myriad services, to centralized hosting at dsource.org, to the package repository at code.dlang.org.

These are just some examples of major changes over the years, each in response to growth: as the community grew in size, some of the processes and systems began to burst at the seams. To continue to grow, something had to change. Such improvements have nearly always been the result of community action: discussion and debate in the forums eventually would lead to a champion stepping forward to make it happen. Community action has been the driving force of D since Walter first announced the “D alpha compiler” in late 2001. That’s still true today. We have a handful of paid positions, but we are still primarily driven by volunteers.

The see-a-problem-and-fix-it philosophy that carried D to where we are today has served us well, and we hope it will continue to do so into the future. But that alone is no longer enough. We are bursting at the seams again, and have been for some time. In the monthly foundation meetings, we’ve been discussing specific issues, both low level and high, and how to solve them. But there’s one thing that’s been missing from the equation: organization.

Razvan Nitu’s position as Pull Request & Issue Manager grew out of an email discussion, prompted by Laeeth Isharc, and was a year in the making. We are grateful for every volunteer who has and continues to make themselves available to review pull requests. Razvan is here not to replace them, but to complement them. They can continue as they have done. What Razvan brings to the mix is organization. He’s there to make sure fewer issues and PRs fall through the cracks, to ensure that as many issues as possible that can be resolved are resolved.

In November, the D Language Foundation and a couple of contributors are meeting with a community member who has graciously volunteered his time and expertise to advise us on how to bring the disparate servers in the D community under Foundation management and multiple admins. The end goals are to eliminate the financial burden on the volunteers who maintain these services and, hopefully, reduce the response time when it comes to solving server-related issues or making changes. In other words, organization.

I’m in the middle of revising the Vision Document that we put together over the summer. I’m not just editing it, though. I’m expanding it. My vision of the vision document has evolved since we first discussed a “goal-oriented task list” in our June meeting. I said at the time that I didn’t “know what the initial version of the final list will look like”. I feel that what we came up with falls short of meeting the need it was intended to fill. Now, I’m pretty sure of what it needs to look like. At the moment, I’m swamped in preparations for DConf Online 2021, so I’ve put the document on the backburner. I plan to pick it up again in early December and present my revisions at the last foundation meeting of the year for approval. If all goes well, it should be published on dlang.org in January. This will be a living document, updated to reflect current priorities as time goes by.

Mathias Lang is working on a proposal to bring organization into even more of our processes. It’s a modified version of the governance proposal he brought to the September foundation meeting, the aim of which is to formalize a core team to oversee the day-to-day guidance and management of the D ecosystem. I hope that this will take what already happens in our monthly meetings to the next level. I see this as a means to establish a framework for creating workgroups that can oversee specific tasks and projects, bringing more opportunities for follow-up and follow-through. It should also help provide guidance and establish priorities (e.g., via revisions to the vision document) so that independent contributors can direct their efforts not just to the issues they care about, but those that are seen as a priority by the core team. (I want to emphasize that this is my personal view. Mathias has yet to complete the proposal. But my view is informed by what we discussed in the September meeting.)

With these and future steps aimed at better organizing our community, we intend to level up our ecosystem: motivate library development, improve the onboarding experience, increase retention, make it easier to contribute, and generally resolve the long-standing issues that tarnish the experience of using the best programming language we know. We ask our current volunteers to keep volunteering, and those who aren’t yet doing so to keep an eye out for the right opportunity to pitch in. Together, we can get to where we all want to go.

D News Roundup

Version 2.097.0 of DMD, the D programming language reference compiler, was released on June 5th in the middle of new GDC and LDC release announcements, while preparations for two major D community events were underway: the Symmetry Autumn of Code 2021 and DConf Online 2021. We’ll cover it all in this post, with a focus first on the events.

Symmetry Autumn of Code 2021

Symmetry Investments logo

As I write, Symmetry Investments employs in the neighborhood of 180 full-time workers and manages over US$8 billion of capital, and they’re always on the lookout for more employees, including programmers to work with D and other languages. They sponsored DConf 2019 in London and have sponsored the annual Symmetry Autumn of Code since 2018, in which a handful of programmers are paid to work for four months on projects of benefit to the D ecosystem.

This year marks the fourth annual SAoC, and we are now accepting applications. Participants will plan four milestones for projects that benefit the D ecosystem and will be expected to work at least 20 hours per week on each milestone. Each participant will be rewarded US$1000 for the successful completion of each of the first three milestones. At the end of the final milestone, the SAoC committee will review the overall progress of each of the remaining participants. One will be rewarded with a final $US1000 payment and a free pass to the next real-world DConf, with reimbursement for travel and lodging. In last year’s event, a second participant was also awarded a fourth US$1000 payment.

Participation in SAoC has led to jobs for some lucky coders and has generally been a valuable learning experience for those who have completed it. Students currently enrolled in graduate or postgraduate university programs will be given priority, but applications are open to all. The application deadline is August 18th. Project ideas can be found in the D community’s projects repository at GitHub. See the Symmetry Autumn of Code page here at the D Blog for all the details on how to apply as a participant or as a mentor.

DConf Online 2021

For the second consecutive year, we were unable to hold a real-world DConf. Last year we launched the first annual DConf Online. And when I say annual, I mean annual! We’re doing it again this year and will continue to do it going forward even after the real-world DConfs are back on.

DConf Online 2021 will take place November 20 and 21 on the D Language Foundation’s YouTube channel. Once again, we’re looking for pre-recorded talks, livestream panels, and livecoding sessions. If you’d like to propose something in one of those categories, the application deadline is September 5. Please visit the DConf Online 2021 homepage for all the details.

And if you haven’t seen them yet, the DConf Online 2020 and DConf Online 2020 Q & A playlists are available on the same channel. You can also find a full list of talks and all the links (talk videos, slides, and Q & A videos) on the DConf Online 2020 homepage.

New compiler releases

D 2.097.0 is live in the latest release of DMD and the beta release of LDC, the LLVM-based D compiler. The new version of GDC also came into the world as part of GCC 11.1 at the end of April.

DMD 2.097.0

Digital Mars D logo

This version of DMD comes with 29 major changes and 144(!) fixed Bugzilla issues courtesy of 54 contributors. Changes include a few deprecations and several improvements to the standard library. Two things stand out:

  • while(auto n = expression) has been on a few wishlists for a while. Now it’s a reality. The same syntax that was already possible with if statements is considered idiomatic in certain circumstances (such as when checking if an item exists in an associative array). Expect the while condition assignment to start popping up in open-source D projects soon.
  • std.sumtype is another wishlist item that is a wish no more. The new SumType is a replacement for std.variant.Algebraic. It’s a discriminated union that makes good use of Design by Introspection with a nice match syntax for those looking for that sort of thing. It’s been quite a while since the last time a new module was added to the D standard library. Many thanks to Paul Backus for putting in the effort to see it through, and a very big Congratulations!

LDC 1.27.0-beta1

LDC logo

On the same day the new DMD was released, the first beta of LDC 1.27.0, which also supports D 2.097.0, was announced in the D forums.

On top of 2.097.0 support, this version of LDC provides greatly improved DLL support on Windows. The prebuilt Windows packages ship with DRuntime and Phobos DLLs. This is big news for D developers on Windows. We’ve long had issues with D DLLs that have prevented heavy use outside of simple interfaces (with APIs exported as extern(C) being the most reliable).

There are some limitations to be aware of, such as the inability to directly access TLS variables across DLL boundaries (though it’s fine with accessor functions). Please see the release page for the details.

Thanks to Martin Kinkelin and all the LDC maintainers and contributors for their continued work on LDC. They aren’t getting paid for this. If you are a happy LDC user or just like the idea of the project, you can support their work by sponsoring Martin Kinkelin on GitHub.

GDC 11.1

In the GCC world, Iain Buclaw continues to make strides on the GDC compiler.

GDC 11.1 still uses the old C++ version of the D frontend, which feature-wise is mostly (see below) at D 2.076.1. There were significant issues in upstream DMD that prevented Iain from making the switch to the D version of the frontend in time to make the release window. He is currently aiming to make the switch in time for GDC 12. As a consolation, this release has support for three BSDs, Mac OS X, and MinGW!

Despite the older frontend, Iain has backported several fixes and optimizations, and even a few features, so it isn’t your grandfather’s D 2.076.1 that GDC supports. For example, the new bottom type that recently made its way through the D Improvement Proposal review process has found its way into this GDC release. See the forum announcement for details of all the new D goodness in GDC 11.1 and Please consider sponsoring his work on GitHub.

One-off donations

If you aren’t up for sponsoring Martin or Iain but would still like to support them financially, you can make one-time donations through the D Language Foundation. You can send money to the D General Fund, the D Open Collective, or to our PayPal account. Whichever method you choose, please be sure to leave a note that the donation is intended for LDC, GDC, or any D project you would like to support. We’ll make sure the appropriate person receives the money.

Other options for supporting the D programming language: visit the D Language Foundation donation page and donate to one of our funds, head to the DLang Swag Emporium and purchase any items that catch your eye (the D Rocket stuff rocks, and DConf Online 2021 swag will be available shortly), or consider using smile.amazon.com and selecting the D Language Foundation as your charity the next time you shop at Amazon.com (we are only available through the .com domain; browser extensions like SmartAmazonSmile for Firefox and AmazonSmileRedirect for Chrome make it easy to do).

Thanks to everyone who has, will, or continues to support the D programming language, either through donations of time or money. We’ve gotten where we are through community effort, and community effort will keep pushing us forward. D rocks!

DConf Online 2020: How to Participate

DConf Online 2020
As I write, we are a little over 24 hours away from the start of DConf Online 2020, our first online version of DConf. All of the talks for Day One are uploaded, the livestreams are scheduled, and #BeerConf is almost ready to launch.

The details

All of the prerecorded talks will be accessible on our YouTube channel via the DConf Online 2020 playlist (look under the live chat box for the full playlist; you may have to scroll down). Use the live chat to ask questions during the talk. The speaker will be available to provide short answers in the chat box. Longer, more complex answers, and/or additional context, will be provided in the Q & A livestream. The speaker will let you know if he is providing more detail in the livestream. If you don’t want to tab over to the livestream and miss part of the talk, the livestream will be saved to our channel once it ends and you will be able to go back and watch any part of it you may be interested in.

Each day, the Q & A livestream will begin at 13:50 UTC. Each speaker will be in the livestream 5 minutes before his talk begins and will be available to answer questions for the duration of the talk and for up to 15 minutes after. As I said above, you may ask questions in the live chat of the talk, but you may also ask them in the live chat of the livestream (and will likely have to if you have questions after the talk ends). Depending on the amount of time available, the number of questions, and the speaker’s schedule, each speaker may stay longer than 15 minutes after the talk, but is not required to.

Please note that speakers are not expected to answer off-topic questions. It’s entirely up to them if they do so.

I’ll be hosting the livestream throughout each day. I’ll be chatting with the speakers about their talks and D in general to fill in the dead time when no one is asking questions. After the conference is over, I intend to chop up the livestream and upload the Q & A session for each talk as separate videos.

On Day One, we have an Ask us Anything session scheduled with Walter and Átila. This will take place in the Q & A livestream for that day. We also have a livecoding session by Adam Ruppe scheduled. That will take place in a separate livestream when the Day One Q & A livestream ends (links below). Adam will be monitoring the chat as he codes, so he will answer any questions you have.

The livestream links:

BeerConf

From 18:00 UTC November 20, we’ll be running a Jitsi Meet instance for our online version of BeerConf. Everyone is welcome to join, no alcohol required. If you aren’t familiar with BeerConf, you can read a brief description of it on the DConf Online 2020 website. You can also read about it here on the blog.

BeerConf will run all weekend long. You can come and go as you please, during talks, in between talks, day time, night time, anytime!

See this D forum thread for details on how to join.

The prizes

Throughout the event, I’ll be announcing different ways for viewers to win various prizes. We’ll be handing out t-shirts, coffee mugs, and other items from the DLang Swag Emporium (and maybe a DMan shirt or two). I’ll announce the details in the Q & A livestream and, if a talk is ongoing, in the talk’s live chat. Sometimes, winning the prize may involve tweeting, in which case I’ll announce the details on Twitter, so be sure to follow us if you aren’t already.

Additionally, everyone who asks a question to which a speaker provides an answer will be entered into at least two random drawings. There will be one random drawing at the end of each day which includes those eligible on that day. The winners of these drawings will receive a $50 Amazon eGift card. The winner of the two-day drawing will receive a $100 Amazon eGift card. If you win on Day One, you will not be eligible to win on Day Two, but both winners will be eligible to win the two-day drawing.

Funding for all prizes comes from the D Language Foundation General Fund. You can contribute by buying DConf Online 2020 swag or other items from the DLang Swag Emporium, by selecting the D Language Foundation as your preferred AmazonSmile charity and shopping through smile.amazon.com, or by donating directly to the General Fund.

Swag prize winners will be announced in a talk’s live chat and/or the Q & A livestream, depending on the nature of the prize task. For prize tasks that take place on Twitter, winners will not be announced, but will be notified through private message. Amazon eGift card winners will be announced in the livestream. Since YouTube apparently no longer allows private messages, winners on YouTube will be instructed on how to claim their prize when they are announced in the livestream.

Enjoy!

We want to thank all of our speakers for volunteering their time to put together these presentations and making themselves available for Q & A. Without them, this event would not be possible. We hope you enjoy DConf Online 2020!

D 2.094.0, DConf Online Schedule, and SAOC 2020

Digital Mars D logo

The end of September saw a new release of the reference D compiler, DMD 2.094.0, sporting the latest language features. That was followed not long after by a beta release of LDC, the LLVM-based D compiler, based on the same frontend version. The DMD 2.094.1 patch release entered into beta a few days before this post was published. Meanwhile, the first Milestone of the Symmetry Autumn of Code has come to an end, and the DConf Online 2020 schedule has been published.

DMD 2.094.0

This release of DMD incorporates 21 major changes and 119 fixed Bugzilla issues, thanks to the efforts of 49 contributors. Here are some highlights.

This ain’t your grandpa’s in parameter

Back in the days of yore, when DMD was still a pre-1.000 alpha, the D language supported in, out, and inout parameter storage classes. They had the following meanings:

  • in (input), the default, was the bog standard function parameter which is a mutable copy of its argument, i.e., the normal passed-by-value parameter.
  • out (output) parameters were passed by reference and, upon function entry, initialized to the default initializer value for the parameter type (e.g., 0 for int, float.nan for float, etc).
  • inout (input/output) parameters were passed unmodified by reference.

When D2 came along, there were some changes. inout was replaced by the ref keyword and out kept the same meaning, but now there was an explicit restriction that these parameters could only take lvalue references; rvalue references, commonly used in C++, were forbidden as arguments. With in, things became a little muddy. And that brings us to scope parameters, a D2 feature that has evolved over time.

For quite some time, it was not fully implemented and only affected parameters that were delegates: the compiler would only allocate a closure for a scope delegate if it absolutely needed to. The D2 version of in was intended to be equivalent to const scope, but it was never fully implemented and was effectively equivalent to const. Today, scope is intended to be applied to ref or out parameters to prevent them from escaping the function scope, and with DMD 2.092.0, in finally became equivalent to const scope. In DMD 2.094.0, in has been reimagined and extended to solve the rvalue reference issue.

The first thing to know about the new in is that it’s still equivalent to const scope, but now the compiler is free to choose whether to pass an in parameter’s argument by reference or by value. The second thing to know is that in parameters can now take rvalue references. All of this is implemented behind the -preview=in command line switch first introduced in 2.092.0.

Like any preview feature, the new in may or may not make it into the language proper, and if it does it might not be without changes. But for now, it’s there and waiting to be put through its paces. The more people using it, pushing it, and looking for holes, the sooner we can know if this is the in we’re looking for.

Ddoc Markdown support

Quite a while ago, Ddoc, D’s built-in documentation syntax, was enhanced to support some Markdown features. It was hidden beind a -preview switch. Now, that switch is no longer necessary—Ddoc supports Markdown out of the box.

Note that this is not full-on Markdown. For example, although asterisks are supported for italic and bold text, underscores are not. But Markdown-style links, code blocks, inline code, and images are supported. For the details, see the Documentation Generator documentation.

More speed please

Since the release of DMD 2.091.0, the DMD binaries in the Windows release packages are being compiled with LDC. This is a good thing because LDC has a better optimizer than DMD, which makes DMD’s fast compile times even faster. Now, LDC is used to compile binary releases on Linux, OSX, and FreeBSD. As a side effect, there are now no more 32-bit releases for FreeBSD, and additional binary tools are no longer included. If you need them, you can still pick them up from https://digitalmars.com/ or from older DMD releases.

Download

The latest release of DMD is always available for download at https://dlang.org/download.html. The latest Beta or Release Candidate can always be found there as well. You can also find links to download LDC and GDC, the GCC-based D compiler (which is now an official component of GCC). While you’re there, if you enjoy the D programming language, consider leaving a tip to the D Language Foundation.

DConf Online 2020 Schedule

DConf Online 2020 is coming together nicely. Over the two days of November 21 and 22, we have nine prerecorded talks, a livestream Q & A with the language maintainers, and a livecoding session. We’ll also be bringing our annual real-world BeerConf to the virtual world.

The talks

The prerecorded talks will be scheduled to premiere on our YouTube channel at the UTC times listed on the schedule. For the duration of each talk and for 15 minutes after, each speaker will be avalailable in a separate livestream for questions and answers related to the talk. We want to record the questions and answers verbally for posterity. The idea is that viewers of the prerecorded talk can ask questions in the video’s chat, or ask in the livestream chat during or up to 15 minutes after the talk. The speaker will read the questions out loud. Short answers will be provided both verbally and in the chat. Longer answers will be provided verbally only. Commenters asking questions during the talk will be notified in the chat if their questions were selected so that they don’t have to tab out to the Q & A and miss a portion of the talk. They can go back and watch the Q & A video later on our YouTube channel.

The livestream Q & A with the language maintainers will run on our YouTube channel. We’ll be streaming a video conference call and questions will be taken from the livestream chat. During the livestream, some viewers will be invited to join in on the conference call and ask their question directly in order to provide more opportunity for follow up and feedback. Details on how to participate will be released on the day of the livestream.

Throughout the weekend, we’ll be handing out prizes to random viewers. Eligibility details will be provided during the course of the event, so pay attention!

BeerConf

BeerConf is a real-world DConf tradition dating back to the first edition of the conference, though the name didn’t come around until Ethan Watson coined it a few years later. Every year, we designate a gathering spot where DConf attendees can mingle every evening to unwind. The DConf days are where we all wear our D programmer hats and spend our time talking about our favorite programming language, but BeerConf is our chance to be human. We still talk about D, but we also have the opportunity to go beyond the code and get to know each other on a more personal level.

So for DConf Online, we’re taking BeerConf online. On the evening (UTC) of Friday, November 20, we’ll open the BeerConf video conference to any and all, and we’ll leave it open all weekend. Despite the name, no alcohol is required to participate. All you need is an internet connection and a web browser, and you can come and go as you please. We’ve been running monthly BeerConf events since June of this year, so we know that, though it’s not quite the same as being in the same place, it’s still a lot of fun.

We hope to see you November 20–22 in BeerConf and DConf!

Symmetry Autumn of Code

We are currently running our third annual Symmetry Autumn of Code (SAOC). Sponsored by Symmetry Investments, the event provides an opportunity for D programmers to make a little money working on projects aimed at improving the D ecosystem. Particpants each get paid $1000 for the successful completion of each of three milestones. At the end of a fourth milestone, the progress of each participant will be evaluated by the SAOC committee, then one participant will be awarded a final $1000 payment, and receive free registration and reimbursement for transportation and lodging for the next real-world DConf.

We currently have four programmers coding away toward their goals. Milestone 1 has just come to an end and Milestone 2 is set to begin. The participants will soon be sending in their milestone reports, their mentors will send in progress evaluations, and the SAOC Committee will review it all to determine if everyone has put forth the effort required to continue through the event (we expect no issues on that front!). You can follow the progress of each participant, and perhaps provide them with some timely advice, through their weekly updates in the D General Forum. Search for “SAOC2020”.

Deadlines and New Swag

SAOC 2020 Application Deadline

Symmetry Investments logoThe deadline for Symmetry Autumn of Code (SAOC) 2020 applications is on August 16th. There’s work to be done and money to be paid (courtesy of Symmetry Investments). If you know of a project that can keep an eager programmer busy for at least 20 hours a week over the course of four months, please advertise it in the forums and add it to the project ideas list if it isn’t already there.

As for potential applicants, remember that experience with D is not necessary. Experience with another language can be transferred to D “on the job”, with a mentor to guide the way. Tell your friends and spread the word to other programming communities. This is a great way to bring new faces to the D community and the new ideas they may bring with them. All the information on how to apply and how to become a mentor is available on the SAOC 2020 page.

DConf Online 2020 Swag

DConf Online 2020 Logo

The DConf Online 2020 submission deadline of August 31 will be here before we know it. If you haven’t put a submission together yet, head over to the DConf Online 2020 home page (and/or the announcement here on the blog) for the details on what we’re looking for and how to go about it. Everyone whose submission is accepted for the event schedule will receive a t-shirt and coffee mug to commemorate the occasion.

For everyone else, those t-shirts and mugs are on sale now at the DLang Swag Emporium along with tote bags and stickers. Remember, all of the money we raise through the store goes straight into the General Fund, which we’ll dip into to provide DConf Online 2020 speakers with their free stuff and a few lucky viewers with prizes. Donations made directly to the General Fund, or to any of our ongoing campaigns, are also greatly appreciated.

DConf Online 2020: Call For Submissions

DConf Online 2020 LogoDConf Online 2020 is happening November 21 & 22, 2020 in your local web browser! We are currently taking submissions for pre-recorded talks, livstreamed panels, and livecoding events. See the DConf Online 2020 web site for details on how you can participate. Keep reading here for more info on how it came together and what we hope to achieve, as well as for a reminder about the 2020 edition of the Symmetry Autumn of Code (the SAOC 2020 registration deadline is just over three weeks away!).

Maybe Next Time, London!

Due to the onset of COVID-19, the D Language Foundation and Symmetry Investments decided in early March to cancel DConf 2020, which had been scheduled to take place June 17–20 in London. DConf has been the premiere D programming language event every year since 2013, the one chance for members of the D community from around the world to gather face-to-face outside of their local meetups for four days of knowledge sharing and comradery. It was a painful decision, but the right one. As of now, we can’t say for sure there will be a DConf 2021, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely.

Immediately upon reaching the decision to cancel DConf, the obvious question arose of whether we should take the conference online. It was something none of the DConf organizers had any experience with, so we were unwilling to commit to anything until we could figure out a way to go about it that makes sense for our community. As time progressed and we explored our options, the idea became more attractive. Finally, we settled on an approach that we think will work for our community while still allowing outsiders to easily drop by to get a look at our favorite programming language.

We also decided that this is not going to be an online substitute for the real-world DConf. That’s why we’ve named it DConf Online 2020 and not DConf 2020 Online. We’re planning to make this an annual event. The real-world DConf will still take place in spring or summer (barring pandemics or other unforeseen circumstances), and DConf Online six months or so later. Without the DConf cancellation, we never would have reached this point, so for us that’s a bit of a bright side to these dark days.

DConf on YouTube

DConf Online will take place on the D Language Foundation’s YouTube Channel. The event will kick off with a pre-recorded keynote from Walter Bright, the creator and co-maintainer of D, on November 21, scheduled to premiere at a yet-to-be-determined time. Other pre-recorded talks will be scheduled to premiere throughout the weekend, including a Day Two keynote on November 22 from co-maintainer Átila Neves. Presenters from the pre-recorded talks will be available for livestreamed question and answer sessions just as they would be in the real-world DConf.

We’ll also be livestreaming an Ask Us Anything session, a DConf tradition, with Walter and Átila. We’re looking for other ideas for livestream panels. Anyone submitting a panel proposal should either be willing to moderate the panel or have already found someone to commit to the position.

And we really, really want to have at least two livecoding sessions. Anyone familiar with D who has experience livecoding is welcome to submit a proposal. Ideally, we’re looking for sessions that present a solid demonstration of D in use, preferably a small project designed exclusively for the livestream, something that can be developed from start to finish in no more than 90 minutes. We aren’t looking for tutorial style sessions that go into great detail on a feature or two (though that sort of thing is great for a pre-recorded talk submission!), but something that shows how a D program comes together and what D features look like in action.

Everything you need to know to submit a pre-recorded talk, panel, or livecoding session to the D Language Foundation can be found at the DConf Online 2020 web site. We’ll have more details here and on the web site in the coming weeks as our plans solidify. Oh, and everyone whose submission is accepted will receive some swag from the DLang Swag Emporium (DConf Online 2020 swag is coming soon).

BeerConf

It’s a DConf tradition that a gathering spot is selected where attendees can get together each evening for drinks, food, and conversation. For many attendees, this is a highlight of the conference. The opportunity to engage in conversation with so many smart, like-minded people is not one to be missed. Ethan Watson dubbed these evening soirees “BeerConf”, and the name has stuck.

Recently, Ethan and other D community members have been gathering for a monthly online #BeerConf. Given that it’s such an integral part of the DConf experience, we hope to make use of the lessons they’re learning to run a BeerConf in parallel to DConf Online, starting on the 20th. Despite the name, no one will be expected to drink alcohol of any kind. It’s all about getting together to socialize as close to face-to-face as we can get online.

More details regarding BeerConf will be announced closer to the conference dates, so keep an eye on the blog!

SAOC 2020

Symmetry Autumn of Code is an annual event where a handful of lucky programmers get paid to write some D code. Sponsored by Symmetry Investments, SAOC 2020 is the third edition of the event. Although priority is given to university students, SAOC is open to anyone over 18.

Applicants send a project proposal and a short bio to the D Language Foundation. Those who are selected will be required to work on their project at least 20 hours per week from September 15, 2020, until January 15, 2021. The event consists of four milestones. Participants who meet their goals for the first three milestones will each receive a payment of $1000. For the fourth milestone, the SAOC Committee will evaluate each participant’s progress for the entire event. On that basis, one will be selected to receive a final $1000 payment and a free trip to the next real-world DConf (no registration fee; travel and lodging expenses reimbursed on the same terms as offered to DConf speakers). The lucky participant will be asked to submit a proposal for the same DConf they attend, but their proposal will be evaluated in the same manner as all proposals (i.e., acceptance is not guaranteed), but they are guaranteed free registration and reimbursement regardless.

Although Roberto Romaninho, our SAOC 2019 selectee, was robbed of the opportunity to attend DConf 2020, he will still be eligible to make use of his reward at our next real-world event along with the 2020 selectee. Francesco Gallà, who was selected in the inaugural SAOC 2018, gave a presentation about his project and the SAOC experience at DConf 2019. The runner up, Franceso Mecca, wrote about his own project for the D Blog.

SAOC 2020 applications are open until August 16. See the SAOC 2020 page for all the details on how to apply.

SAOC 2020 and Other News

Symmetry Autumn of Code 2020

Symmetry Investments logo

The 3rd annual Symmetry Autumn of Code (SAoC) is on!

From now until August 16th, we’re accepting applications from motivated coders interested in getting paid to improve the D ecosystem. The SAoC committee will review all submissions and, based on the quality of the applications received, select a number of applicants to complete four milestones from September 15th to January 15th. Each participant will receive $1000 for the successful completion of each of the first three milestones, and one of them will receive an additional $1000 and a free trip (reimbursement for transportation and accommodation, and free registration) to the next real-world DConf (given the ongoing pandemic, we can’t yet be sure when that will be).

Anyone interested in programming D is welcome to apply, but preference will be given to those who can provide proof of enrollment in undergraduate or postgraduate university programs. For details on how to apply, see the SAoC 2020 page here at the D Blog.

The participants will need mentors, so we invite experienced D programmers interested in lending a hand to get in touch and to keep an eye out in the forums for any SAoC applicants in search of a mentor. As with the previous edition of SAoC, all mentors whose mentee completes the event will be guaranteed a one-time payment of $500 after the final milestone (mentors of unsuccessful mentees may still be eligible for the payment at the discretion of the SAoC committee). Potential mentors can follow the same link for details on their responsibilities and how to make themselves available.

We’re also looking for community input on potential SAoC projects. If there’s any work you’re aware of that needs doing in the D ecosystem and which may keep a lone coder occupied for 20 hours per week over four months, please let us know! Once again, details on how submit your suggestions and what sort of information we’re looking for can be found on the SAoC 2020 page.

Our SAoC 2019 selectee, Roberto Rosmaninho, was all set to attend DConf 2020 and we were all looking forward to meeting him. He’ll still be eligible to claim his free DConf trip at the next available opportunity.

SAoC would not be possible without the generosity of Symmetry Investments. A big thanks to them for once again funding this event and for the other ways, both financial and otherwise, they contribute back to the D programming language community.

Finances

Thanks to everyone who has shopped in the DLang Swag Emporium! To date, the D Language Foundation has received over $177 in royalties and referral fees. Thanks are also in order to those who have supported the foundation through smile.amazon.com. Your purchases have brought over $288 into the General Fund. Amazon Smile is perhaps the easiest way to support D financially if you shop through Amazon’s .com domain (the D Language Foundation is unavailable in other Amazon domains). If you’ve never done so, you can select a charitable foundation (the D Language Foundation, of course) on your first visit to smile.amazon.com. Then, every time you shop through that link, the foundation will receive a small percentage of your total purchase. Check your browser’s extension market for plugins that convert every amazon.com link to a smile.amazon.com link!

On the Task Bounties front, we may have closed out a big bounty for bringing D to iOS and iPadOS, but there are still several other bounties waiting to be claimed. The latest, currently at $220, is a bounty to improve DLL support on Windows by closing two related Bugzilla issues; 50% of the total bounty will be paid for the successful closure (merged PR and DMD release) of each issue. We welcome anyone interested in fixing these issues to either up the bounty or roll up their sleeves and start working toward claiming it. If you’d like to contribute to multiple bounties with a single credit card payment, or seed one or more new bounties with a specific amount, visit the Task Bounty Catch-All and follow the instructions there.

Finally, the question was recently raised in the forums about how to view the D Language Foundation’s finances. Because the foundation is a 501(3)(c) non-profit public charity, the Form 990 that the organization is required to submit to the IRS every year is publicly available. There are different ways you can obtain the documents for multiple years, such as searching online databases or contacting the IRS directly. Several websites, such as grantspace.org, provide details on how to do so. The Form 990 does not break down specific expenditures or sources of income except for special circumstances (like scholarship payments). With Andrei’s help, I’m currently working on gathering up more information on the past five years of the foundation’s finances so that we can put up an overview page at dlang.org. It won’t be at line-item detail, but we hope to provide a little more detail than the Form 990. I can’t provide a timeline on when it will be available (I don’t consider it a high priority task, so I’m working on it sporadically), but expect it sometime in the next few months.

DConf Online?

Rumor has it that online conferences are actually a thing. Voices in the wind speak of the potential for an annual event related to D. I don’t usually listen to voices I hear in the wind, but this time I’m intrigued…

D 2.091.0 Released

Digital Mars D logoThe latest release of DMD, the D reference compiler, ships with 18 major changes and 66 bugfixes from 55 contributors. This release contains, among other goodies, improvements to the Windows experience and enhancements to C and C++ interoperability. As fate would have it, the initial release announcement came in the aftermath of some unfortunate news regarding DConf 2020.

DMD on Windows

Over the years, some D users have remarked that the development of D is Linux-centric, that Windows is the black sheep or red-headed stepchild of D platforms. For anyone familiar with D’s early history, that seems an odd thing to say, given that DMD started out as a Windows-only compiler that could only output 32-bit objects in the OMF format. But it’s also understandable, as anyone not familiar with that history could only see that DMD on Windows lagged behind the Linux releases.

64-bit

One place where the official DMD releases on Windows have continued to differ from the releases on other platforms is the lack of 64-bit binaries in the release packages. Again, there’s a historical reason for this. The default output of the compiler is determined by how it is compiled, e.g., 32-bit versions output 32-bit binaries by default. When Walter first added support to DMD for 64-bit output on Windows, it required giving the back end the ability to generate object files in Microsoft’s version of the COFF format and also requiring users to install the Microsoft Build Tools and Platform SDK for access to the MS linker and system link libraries. This is quite a different experience from other platforms, where you can generally expect a common set of build tools to have been installed via the system package manager on any system set up for C and C++ development.

For a Windows developer who chooses GCC for their C and C++ development (or who does no C or C++ development at all), it’s a big ask to require them to download and install several GBs they might not already have installed and probably will never use for anything else. So D releases on Windows continued to ship with 32-bit binaries and the OPTLINK linker in order to provide a minimum out-of-the-box experience. That was a perfectly fine solution, unless you happened to be someone who really wanted 64-bit output (posts from disgruntled Windows users who didn’t want to install the MS tools can be found sprinkled throughout the forum archives).

Eventually, the LLVM linker (LLD) was added to the DMD Windows release packages, along with system link libraries generated from the MinGW definitions. This allowed users to compile 64-bit output out of the box and, once the kinks were worked out, eliminated the dependency on the MS linker. Yet, the official release packages still did not include a 64-bit version of DMD and still did not support 64-bit output by default.

With DMD 2.091.0, the black sheep has come back into the fold. The official DMD releases on Windows now ship with 64-bit binaries, so those of you masochists out there who cling to Makefiles and custom build scripts can expect the default output be what you expect it to be (for the record, DUB, the build tool and package manager that ships with DMD, has been instructing the compiler to compile 64-bit output by default on 64-bit systems for the past few releases).

Windows gets even more love

There are lots of goodies for Windows in this release. Another biggie is that DMD is now 30-40% faster on Windows. It’s no secret that LDC, the LLVM-based D compiler, generates faster binaries than DMD (for some D users, the general rule of thumb is to develop with DMD for its fast compile times and release with LDC for its faster binaries, though others argue that LDC is plenty fast for development and DMD is fine for production). There have been requests for some time to stop compiling DMD with DMD and start doing it with LDC instead. This release is the first to put that into practice.

There are a number of smaller enhancements to the Windows experience: the install.sh script available on the DMD downloads page that some people prefer now supports POSIX environments on Windows; the system link libraries that ship with the compiler have been upgraded from MinGW  5.0.2 to 7.0.0; LLD has been upgraded to 9.0.0; and there’s plenty more in the changelog.

C++ Header Generation

With just about every major release of DMD, D’s interoperability with C and C++ sees some kind of improvement. This release brings a huge one.

Over the years, some have speculated that it would be excellent if the D compiler could generate headers for C and C++ for D libraries intended to be usable in C or C++ programs. Now that wishful thinking has become a(n experimental) reality. Given a set of extern(C) or extern(C++) functions, DMD can generate header files that contain the appropriate C or C++ declarations. Three compiler switches get the job done:

  • -HC will cause the header to be generated and printed to standard output
  • -HCf=fileName will cause the header to be generated and printed to the specified file
  • -HCd=directoryname will (once it’s implemented) cause the header to be printed to a file in the specified directory

See the changelog for example output.

Other News

While the Corona virus was initially ramping up out of sight from most of the world, plans for DConf 2020 were ramping up online from different locations around the world. Planning began in November, the venue was secured in late December, and the website launched with the announcement in early January.

As news of the virus outbreak spread, the conference organizers grew concerned. Would we be okay in June? In late February, that concern manifested as a discussion of possible contingency plans. Two weeks later, it resulted in the decision to cancel DConf 2020. Thankfully, the D community has been supportive of the decision.

As part of the discussion of contingency plans, the possibility was raised of hosting an online conference. The idea of course came up in the discussion of the cancellation in the forums, and a few people reached out shortly after the initial announcement offering to provide help in setting something up. Walter created a forum thread to discuss the topic for anyone interested.

No one involved with organizing DConf has any experience with hosting an online conference. We’re currently exploring options and looking at what the organizers of other Conferences in the Time of COVID-19 are doing. We want to do it, and we want to do it well. Experience with organizing DConf in the real world has taught us not to jump on any old technology without first having a fallback (ahem, DConf 2018 livestream) and making sure the tech does what we expect it to (ahem, DConf 2019 livestream). So don’t expect a quick announcement. We want to find the right tech that fits our requirements and explore how it works before we move forward with setting dates. But do expect that DConf 2020 Online is looking more and more likely to become a thing.

DConf 2020: Submission Deadline, Early-Bird Registration, and Invited Keynote

In early January, I announced that Symmetry Investments is bringing DConf back to London for our 2020 edition. At the same time, I said we’d start taking submissions from anyone who wanted to send them in. In the interim, we’ve fixed our deadlines and prepared to start accepting reservations. There was only one thing remaining before I was ready for the formal call for submissions and opening of early-bird registrations: confirming our invited keynote speaker. Now that he has confirmed, it’s all official!

Invited Keynote

We’re excited to welcome Roberto Ierusalimschy to DConf 2020! You may know him from his work as the leading architect of the Lua programming language. He’s the author of Programming in Lua and an Associate Professor of Computer Science at PUC-Rio (the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro).

We don’t know yet what his talk will about, but it can be about any topic he wants. We’ll have more information on that for you when we publish the schedule of all selected talks after April 19.

Call for Submissions

We are accepting submissions for DConf 2020 until April 12. Authors will be notified of their final status by April 19.

We’re eager to see some new faces on the stage this year. If you’ve never presented at a DConf before, please don’t hesitate to send us one or more submissions. One person has already sent in seven!

Unless you’re Roberto Ierusalimschy, we prefer topics that are directly or indirectly related to D. We aren’t intransigent, though, so we’re willing to consider other topics. If someone sends us a proposal that isn’t about D but piques our collective interest, we’ll certainly give it serious consideration.

Having a talk selected is a great way to get to DConf if you’re on a budget. You’ll pay no registration fee, plus we’ll reimburse your transportation and lodging costs (within reason—five-star hotels and business- or first-class plane tickets aren’t on the menu). That’s a pretty good deal.

You can find instructions for writing and submitting your submissions on the DConf 2020 homepage.

Early-Bird Registration

Early-bird registration is available at $340, which is 15% off the regular $400 rate. Because we’re being sponsored by Symmetry in London once more, we once again must include a 20% VAT. So the total early-bird rate is $408 (similarly, the regular rate with VAT will be $480). We’re required by UK law to show you the basic rate and VAT in GBP based on the current HMRC exchange rate. That changes every month, so you can see the latest GPB rates in the registration section of the DConf 2020 homepage.

There, you’ll find options for Flipcause and PayPal. From our perspective, we prefer you use our Flipcause form. That gives you the option to cover the credit card processing fee for us so that 100% of your payment can be put toward DConf expenses. If you choose to uncheck that option, that’s fine, too! It will still save us from paying other fees. Every penny we can put toward the expenses helps.

If you do choose to go through PayPal, you have an option for USD and one for GBP. Some registrants told me last year that they get a GBP option even when clicking the USD button. And of course, some register with GBP-based credit cards. However, the GBP button on the DConf 2020 homepage is a fixed amount based on the current HMRC exchange rate. It changes, but only once a month. It may turn out to be cheaper for you than the rate you get from PayPal or your credit card provider. Of course, it could turn out to be more expensive, so if you’re looking to save a few pounds, you may want to investigate the different exchange rates if they apply to your situation.

And Now For Something Completely Different

DConf isn’t the only event Symmetry Investments is sponsoring these days. We recently wrapped up the 2019 edition of the Symmetry Autumn of Code.

This year, we started with five participants working on five interesting projects. Each participant was to complete a total of four milestones over four months with guidance from a mentor. At the successful completion of the first three milestones, each participant would receive $1000. At the end of the fourth and final milestone, one participant would be selected to receive one more $1000 payment and an all-expense paid trip to DConf.

As the event played out, we lost one of the participants at the end of Milestone 2. Two more were unable to fully commit to the Milestone 4 deadline (though they promised to continue working on their projects after SAOC). That left two participants for the SAOC review committee to select from. It was a very difficult decision, as both participants did excellent work and received glowing evaluations from their mentors.

Now I can announce that the SAOC 2019 finalist was Roberto Rosmaninho!

Roberto, with his mentor Nicholas Wilson, worked on adding support for Multi-Level Intermediate Representation (MLIR) to LDC, the LLVM-based D compiler. He is currently working on putting together pull requests for LDC and intends to work on optimizations going forward. He has also confirmed that he will take advantage of his reward so that we will have at least two Robertos at DConf this year.

As we did last year with Francesco Gallà, the SAOC 2018 finalist, we’ve asked Roberto to submit a talk this year. He promised to do so. We can’t promise his talk will be selected (though the odds are high out of the gate), but he still gets a free trip if it isn’t! Besides, we’re looking forward to meeting him.

On behalf of the D Language Foundation and Symmetry Investments, I want to thank everyone who participated in SAOC 2019. Keep an eye on this blog for news about future events.

Now go prep your DConf 2020 submissions!