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Quick Guide: Developer News and Tech Updates for 2021

Amanda Fawcett
Content Marketing Manager for Educative, Inc. (she/her) Sign up for our blog newsletter here: https://www.educative.io/blog/blog-newsletter-annoucement
Originally published at educative.io ・6 min read

2021 is already proving to be a fast-paced year. The tech industry has seen new and exciting developments in a variety of industries. To get you up to speed, we’ve summarized some of the top news and updates that you might have missed.

You’ll see what companies have had big announcements, what programming tools will be getting updates, and more.

This guide at a glance:

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Bezos steps down as CEO of Amazon

In early February, Amazon announced that founder Jeff Bezos will be stepping down as chief executive officer that he started nearly 30 years ago. Bezos has announced that he will remain involved with Amazon as an executive chairman. This change will officially occur in the second half of 2021 (Q3).

“As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions”.

Jeff Bezos

Bezos appears to be following Microsoft's lead by promoting the chief executive of Amazon Web Services, Andy Jassy to CEO of Amazon. Jassy joined the company back in 1997 and has led the AWS cloud team from its earliest days. With a cloud expert at the head of the company, many news outlets are predicting success. Others say that this transition will not necessarily bring significant changes to Amazon’s business.

In his announcement email to Amazon employees, Bezos stated that “Amazon couldn’t be better positioned for the future. We are firing on all cylinders, just as the world needs us to. We have things in the pipeline that will continue to astonish.”

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Office 2021 will soon be available for MacOS and Windows

On February 18th, Microsoft announced that two new versions of Office will soon be available: a consumer Office 2021 version and Office LTSC for enterprise customers. Available for both Windows and macOS, Office 2021 is designed for users who don’t want to rely on cloud-powered Microsoft 365 tools.

Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365, states that they want to meet customers where they are at: “We certainly have a lot of customers that have moved to the cloud over the last 10 months. At the same time, we definitely have customers who have specific scenarios where they don’t feel like they can move to the cloud.”

Some potential features updates Office 2021 may include dark mode support, improvements to accessibility, and features like Dynamic Arrays and XLOOKUP in Excel. Both versions will include the OneNote app and ship both 32- and 64-bit versions. Microsoft has announced that it will not change pricing for the time being.

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Microsoft's Excel programming language is now Turing Complete

On February 9, 2021, Microsoft announced that Excel formulas are now Turing Complete. A Turing Complete language is one that can perform any computation. This is exciting news for data scientists who use Excel.

Now, with the use of lambda, you can write reusable functions using the Excel formula language we all know so well. In Microsoft's announcement, they show how to use Excel to recursively reverse a string and fixed-point combinator. They even plan to add functionality for fully nestable arrays soon.

They also plan to define functions by a whole worksheet, which they are calling sheet-defined functions. These will allow users to define large functions using multiple formulas that are spread out over multiple Excel cells.

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The Rust core team announced the creation of Rust Foundation

The Rust core team recently announced the formation of the Rust Foundation. The announcement by Ashley Williams, the Interim Executive Director, stated that the Rust Foundation is “a new independent non-profit organization to steward the Rust programming language and ecosystem, with a unique focus on supporting the set of maintainers that govern and develop the project”.

Rust has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, and was even voted the “most-loved” language in Stack Overflow’s developer survey five years in a row. This is an important step for Rust. The Rust Foundation aims to become an organization that hosts the language’s infrastructure and drives progress for the future.

Companies like Mozilla have heralded their support for the Rust Foundation, stating that they are proud to see Rust “outgrow its origins” and evolve to meet developer needs. Other members include AWS, Google, Huawei, and Microsoft.

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Cats 2.4.1 hotfix release resolved critical issue in Cats 2.4.0

Cats is a Scala library that provides abstractions for functional programming and an ecosystem of pure, typeful libraries. A critical issue in the Cats 2.4.0 update led a quick update. The official Twitter account for Cats urged users to skip 2.4.0 and download the newest hotfix release, Cats 2.4.1.

Some of these fixes include:

  • Removed and replaced inconsistent Parallel derivation for EitherT
  • Deprecate Free.inject to emit new deprecation warnings
  • Added EmptyK instance for Map, which marks a non-implicit method as implicit

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Java 8 update released with new features

Java Development Kit (JDK) is getting an update. In March 2021, Java Development Kit16 is set to release new features, including support for C++ 14, concurrent thread-stack processing for garbage collection, and “elastic metaspace” for returning unused class metadata to the OS.

You can find early-access builds of JDK 16 for most operating systems at jdk.java.net. JDK 16 is a short-term release, and JDK 17, which is targeted for September 2021, will be a long-term support (LTS) release.

Java 8 Update 281 was also released to address security concerns and bug fixes. Oracle strongly recommends that Java SE 8 users upgrade. Some other new features include:

  • groupname option added to keytool -genkeypair. Now, you can specify a named group when creating a key pair.
  • Apache Santuario library has been upgraded to version 2.1.4. This brings the new property com.sun.org.apache.xml.internal.security.parser.pool-size, which sets the pool size of the internal DocumentBuilder cache for processing XML Signatures.
  • Added support for certificate_authorities extension

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Google announces increasing support for the Python Software Foundation (PSF)

On February 11th, Google announced that it will be increasing its support for the Python Software Foundation (PSF), making Google a Visionary Sponsor. Their aim is to aid and improve the Python language and ecosystem. Python is a key tool for Google Cloud and is a common runtime for many of their hosted services.

Google will be donating more than $350,000 to support PSF projects, such as malware detection for PyPl and a full-time CPython Developer-in-Residence, amongst other goals.
Google has supported Python for many years, stating that they are “big believers in Python”. They want to ensure that the Python ecosystem continues to have a viable, exploratory future.

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Visual Studio Code 1.53 released with new feature tools

Visual Studio Code, a popular code editor, just released version 1.53 with new feature tools, such as:

  • JavaScript debugging support for conditional exception breakpoints and Node.js worker_threads
  • Notebook UX updates
  • Markdown preview image auto update
  • Support for searching in open editors (experimental)
  • Wrap tabs: wrap editor tabs in the workbench instead of using a scrollbar.
  • Configure tab decorations Emmet improvements for faster performance
  • And more

Now, you don’t need to edit keybindings to configure a default search UI. The new search.mode setting that allows you to configure UI search commands like “Search: Find in Files” or “Find in Folder". Some of the options include:

  • view: search using the search view in the sidebar
  • newEditor: search in a new Search Editor
  • existingEditor: reuse an existing search from Search Editor

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