A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a fairly new programming language named Vala. I thought it looked promising and since Vala is developed by the GNOME project – with the purpose of making software development for, primarily, GNOME easier – and I’m an avid GNOME user I wanted to look deeper into the world of Vala.
I, and most programmers I believe, work in that way that I need a real and useful project when learning a new programming language. So I thought why not re-writing the Roxen Application Launcher I wrote in C#/Mono a couple of years ago in Vala – which by the way is syntactically very, very similar to C# and Java. I’d gotten tired of always having to fiddle with the C# code with every new version of Mono since something always broke when Mono was updated so a re-write wasn’t going to be totally pointless. The good thing about Vala is that the Vala compiler generates C code and that’s what you compile the program from. Fast code and hopefully more mature and stable libraries that won’t break backwards compatibility with every new release.
What about Vala
So, on I went about it and I think that Vala is a really promising language. It’s still a very young language so some library bindings isn’t behaving exactly as expected and the documentation isn’t directly redundant – although the Vala reference documentation site isn’t half bad. But since Vala pretty much is a wrapper for, or binding to, the underlying C libraries you can find answers to your questions that way. All in all I think Vala has a promising future: Way more simple than C and almost as fast and light on memory (remember the Vala compiler generates C code) and way faster than C#/Mono and free from any Microsoft associations .
What about the Roxen Application Launcher
In this new version I utilize GConf for storing application settings. I also made use of – for the first time – the GNU Build Tools for compilation which also makes it easier to distribute and for others to compile from the sources. This also means that the distributed version compiles from the C sources and not the Vala sources so there’s no need for the Vala compiler to build the program.
Other than that there’s nothing fancy about it. The Vala sources is available at my Github repository.
The screenshots is showing the Swedish translation.