February 14, 2013, 3:56 PM — Developers could soon what have what is intended to be the industry's fastest implementation of Ruby at their disposal.
Currently in development and called Topaz, this version of Ruby is written in Python atop the RPython translation tool chain. It will be based on Ruby 1.9.3, said founder Alex Gaynor, a software engineer at music streaming site Rdio, in a blog post. "We believe we're going to be able to generate a very fast Ruby interpreter," Gaynor said in an interview this week. He expects Topaz to be the fastest Ruby implementation available. "The key to achieving this performance is the fact that the RPython toolkit includes a high-performance just-in-time compiler as well as an advanced garbage collector."
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Gaynor hopes Topaz will be ready in a year or two, with Web applications and scientific computing expected to be the sweet spots for the language. He also wants Topaz to accommodate the popular Ruby on Rails Web framework. "That's sort of the Holy Grail of compatibility for us."
In developing Topaz, Gaynor sees C extensions for Ruby as probably the biggest question mark right now. Many database adapters are written in C, and compatibility is needed. While Topaz is missing many built-in methods and classes, it does feature elements of Ruby including classes, blocks, built-in types and method calls. "We don't yet consider it stable, but it's getting closer every day," Gaynor writes in his blog last week.
Developers can try out Topaz using nightly builds, or they can build it themselves. Source code for Topaz is found on GitHub.