Vision/2018H1

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This document discusses the high-level vision for D with semestrial granularity. It is released in January and July of each year. Note that the goals presented are those the D leadership works on, explicitly fosters, or strongly believes are important for the success of the D language. Other contributions are always welcome and do not need to be necessarily aligned with this document.

H2 2017 Review

The D Language Foundation
Expenses for H2 2017 have averaged at $1605 per month. These include mostly recurring expenses (scholarships, contract payments).
The Foundation has funds for over three years assuming no changes in expenses and no money inflow. We, however, expect both donations and expenses to increase.
The scholarship recipients have created 154 pull requests.
Organization
The core team (Walter Bright, Andrei Alexandrescu, Ali Cehreli, Martin Nowak, Vladimir Panteleev, Sebastian Wilzbach, Mike Parker) kept operations working. There are new potential core collaborators.
Participation
H2 2017 has marked a 28.5% increase in total pull requests compared to to H2 2016: 1812 vs. 1410. Of these, 124 are open.
We have continued to grant merge rights to strong contributors and fostered an increase in contribution quality and esprit de corps.
Downloads of dmd have increased substantially, but we assume the data collection is imperfect because it does not account for repeated downloads from the same URL. So bots, repeated unsuccessful attempts, or manipulation can influence the statistics. We are working on a better tool.
Visits to the dlang.org website have been on the rise; an all-time high of 19,370 average daily visits has been attained in January 2018.
Safety and Memory Management
Work on safe containers has slowed down but is still ongoing.
Of new note is Alexandru Jercaianu's work on a new allocator that offers a safe free primitive. That opens new avenues for approaching memory management.

H1 2018 Priorities

Technical

We are doubling down on work on the following essential directions:

1. Lock down the language definition: D is a powerful language but its definition is not precise enough. A number of subtleties can only be assessed only by running the compiler, not by perusing the specification. This semester we are pushing for a better, more precise, and more complete specification of the D language.

2. @safety: we aim to enable large-scale uses of D with safety guarantees.

3. @nogc: Use of D without a garbage collector, most likely by using reference counting and related methods Unique/Weak references) for reclamation of resources. This task is made challenging by the safety requirement. We believe we have an attack in the upcoming allocators/collections combos.

4. Improve interoperability with other languages: Finishing -betterC should improve incremental migration of C and C++.

5. Improve introspection abilities: Make D the most powerful and easiest to use language for advanced introspection, code generation, and flexible designs. The approach must be two pronged - language improvements and libraries that use them gainfully.

6. Tooling: Define and allow others to define tools that help the use of the D language by everyone.

Virtually all efforts we drive should be assessed and benchmarked relative to these goals.

Non-Technical

We have enjoyed an unprecedented growth spurt starting December 2017, and need to improve our organizational structures in response. That includes:

  • Distribution
    • Improve the process of porting the front-end to alternate backends (gdc, ldc).
    • Pursue distribution of gdc as part of the gcc compiler suite.
    • Improve installers, updaters, and related tooling.
    • Foster development of IDEs, IDE plugins, editor helpers.
  • Contributor base
    • Improve our esprit de corps motivating talented community members to become high-impact contributors
    • Forge new relationships with universities, Expand our scholarship offering to new universities
    • Offer employment to the most active members of the community
    • Foster academic contributions (papers, courses, workshops)
    • Foster industrial contributions (joint projects, joint scholarships)
    • Convert interesting discussions on our own forums into interesting discussions on high-traffic forums such as reddit, hackernews, twitter, and facebook
    • Convert interesting debates and discussions into code and DIPs
    • Convert scattered, uncoordinated contributions into focused, large, high-impact projects. The evaluation from an impact perspective must be pervasive to all project/contributions/proposal assessments.
  • Better community management
    • Make the joining process more inviting and enjoyable
    • Have a clear path for a community member to get a question/concerned addressed, whether it's a technical question, a bug, a request for an improvement, or a meta topic.
  • Make it easier for people to use the D language and contribute to it
    • Tooling
    • Documentation
    • Contributing detailed issues
    • Contributing fixes and improvements
    • Communication at all levels
  • Public Relations
    • Drive DConf 2018 to a great success
    • Improve the standing of the D language on the landscape of programming languages
    • Establish the DIP as a clear, solid means to get a language enhancement going
    • Improve participation in the academic and industrial community
    • Make our message heard and lead the discussion with strong technical content (blogs, articles, interviews, online discussions)