There are many programming languages in the world – about 8 thousand (if you take into account everything that can be considered a programming language, including all sorts of comic and theoretical projects). Among them, Crystal can hardly be named the #1 — there’s a low adoption rate across enterprises for one thing. But: Crystal has its advantages, and a lot of coders love it.
Crystal’s creators claim that the language is simple, like Ruby, and fast, like C. The language has been in development since 2011, precisely as an alternative to Ruby. Therefore we decided to tell a little bit more about Crystal; talk about reasons developers like working with it and the business benefits that come with adopting Crystal.
What Crystal Programming Language Is?
Crystal is a high-level object-oriented programming language. Its syntax is very similar to that of Ruby but differs from its competitor in that it compiles native code via LLVM, which, in layman’s terms, does a very good job of accelerating development speed.
According to developers and companies that use the language, the performance of applications written in Crystal is comparable to applications in C. The latter is considered more difficult to master than Ruby. Thus, the creators of Crystal kill two birds with one stone — they make it possible to write fast applications and provide a low threshold for those who want to start developing in the Crystal language.
In fact, some companies — case in point: Twinslash — combine Crystal with Ruby on Rails to achieve high performance and robust development speed on projects with microservice architecture. Similar syntax of these languages makes this possible, so the development of big complex projects gets much easier.
Programing Language History
The development of the language began 11 years ago. The authors of the project are the founders of the Argentine company Manas Technology Solutions. Initially, the language was called Joy, and the compiler for it was created in Ruby. A little later, in 2013, it was rewritten in Crystal — and the language has been renamed. The official version of the language was released in 2014. Over time, Crystal has become an open-source project, licensed under the terms of the Apache License 2.0.
It is worth noting that, according to the official website of Crystal, one of the key sponsors of the project is the infamous American company Nikola, which develops electric vehicles, like Elon Musk’s Tesla. Also among the project’s sponsors is the Swedish company, 84 codes, which provides cloud services. Manas supports the project to this day.
2021’s release of the major version testifies to the stabilization of the language. Developers added the Crystal standard library and right now the language is ready for “combat conditions” — all the main features we’ll be talking about later in the article are tested and confirmed to be well working.
The introduction of new features in the future, according to the developers, will not affect the stability of the language. The most daring ideas proposed by the community will be included in a separate branch, on the basis of which Crystal 2.0 will be formed in the future.
Some of the features of Crystal 1.0 have been implemented but are not yet officially supported. These include:
- support for Microsoft Windows,
- support for ARM architecture processors.
These features have been wanted by the community for a long time, and the team promises to include them in further development after more extensive stability testing.
Advantages Of Using Crystal
Crystal developers have used C as an example and have worked to make Crystal and Amber (web framework for Crystal) nearly as quick. It is a lot more efficient than Ruby and is among the few languages that have easy-to-pick-up syntax and can achieve high performance. So, Crystal combines the clarity of Ruby and C’s speed.
First of all, Crystal has static typing. This is where it differs from Ruby. In practice, this means that variable type mismatch errors are detected by the compiler, and not during its execution by the interpreter. Early detection leads to cleaner code & faster development.
Crystal is that, like Ruby, offers an OS-independent implementation of multithreading. Lightweight streams in Crystal are called “fibers”. Threads, just like in Go and Clojure, can communicate with each other through pipes, without the need to use shared memory or locks. That makes apps built in Crystal fast, and development in Ruby robust & satisfying.
Easy Access to Native Libraries
Crystal has syntax for calling functions from C libraries and connecting to them without having to write in C. That makes working with machine code much easier.
Crystal was created, first and foremost, to be a joy for developers. The language architecture and performance it allows to achieve quickly makes development faster, more concise, and developers — happier. Both are beneficial for business.
Apps and Websites for Big Goals
Crystal is a high-level programming language designed to speed up scripts. Therefore, with its help, you can write very high-load sites and applications. This language will match startups aimed at creating products that require a high level of throughput and stability.
Fast as C, slick as Ruby
This slogan has changed, but the goal of Crystal’s developers hasn’t.
Stability and high performance are major requirements for consistent user engagement.
Kemal + Crystal Pair Boosts Transparency and Accessibility
Kemal, as we’ve mentioned, is a web framework written in Crystal. Just like Crystal, it has simple and robust syntax. It supports REST, has built-in JSON support, views templating, and so on. It’s one of many useful Crystal 3rd party tools that enrich the language’s ecosystem.
So: when using the Kemal-Crystal pair you simplify the work of both the frontend and backend developers, bringing simple and transparent code to the project. That’s extensively important for projects that
- handle large databases and maintain high performance through it without complicating client-server communication too much (like e-commerce apps)
- often switch hands (a lot of businesses ship products with one team and then outsource LiveOps support to another; Crystal syntax is clear and straightforward, so it’s extremely easy to pick up for people unfamiliar with the project or inexperienced developers who’ve just joined the team)
That makes projects built with the pair more advantageous and easier to build than projects that require development on Ruby or Go: they’re friendlier to beginners and allow for better collaboration between front- and back-end developers.
Despite the relatively low popularity of the Crystal programming language, this tool may give you a batch of benefits at a lower cost and in a shorter time.
We’re sure Crystal will become more popular with the release of Windows support they’re planning — being as stable as it is, it competes with Ruby, and Ruby is extremely popular.