When comparing Julia vs Ceylon, the Slant community recommends Ceylon for most people. In the question“What is the best programming language to learn first?” Ceylon is ranked 31st while Julia is ranked 32nd. The most important reason people chose Ceylon is:
The compiler prevents you from using a potentially null variable, unless you check it is not null. Ie. it forces you to check a potentially null value before using it. The type system is strict, but flexible, allowing union and intersection of types, covariant and contravariant types, reified types, etc. Type inference and union types allows a dynamic programming style, close of JS spirit.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Great standard REPL
Out of the box Julia has a very good Read-Eval-Print-Loop, which both completes functions and types, as well as completion based on history of previous statements. It integrates well with the shell and has an excellent online help system.
Pro Nice regular syntax
Julia code is easy to read and avoid a lot of unnecessary special symbols and fluff. It uses newline to end statements and "end" to end blocks so there is no need for lots of semicolons and curly braces. It is regular in that unless it is a variable assignment, function name always comes first. No need to be confused about whether something is a method on an object or a free function.
Unlike Python and Ruby, since you can annotate the types a function operates on, you can overload function names, so that you can use the same function name for many data types. So you can keep simple descriptive function names and not have to invent artificial function names to separate them from the type they operate on.
Pro Strong static typing, null safe and flexible, almost dynamic type system
The compiler prevents you from using a potentially null variable, unless you check it is not null. Ie. it forces you to check a potentially null value before using it.
The type system is strict, but flexible, allowing union and intersection of types, covariant and contravariant types, reified types, etc.
Type inference and union types allows a dynamic programming style, close of JS spirit.
It brings type safety to JS, allowing to define interfaces to existing JS APIs, yet using the
dynamic keyword for flexible calls in the JS ecosystem.
Pro Excellent IDE support
Ceylon has reified generics, so it doesn't loose the type of collections at runtime. This makes autocompletion, debugging, etc. first-class. The Eclipse plugin makes it a full-fledged Ceylon IDE, and an IntelliJ IDEA plugin is in the works.
Pro Great tutorial
Gavin King, main author of the language, has a great, clear technical writing style, making understandable difficult concepts like variance or sound type system.
Pro Try it out in the browser
It has a Web IDE: http://try.ceylon-lang.org/ with impressive demos: http://try.ceylon-lang.org/?gist=bd41b47f325b6d32514a so you can try it without installing anything, and see the JS generation / interop in action.
Pro Excellent documentation
The language specification is very complete and up to date; also, the language module is very well documented.
Pro Easy to learn even if you don't have prior programming experience
Ceylon is indeed fairly easy and readable. Of course those ones who know OOP and a bit of functional programming concepts will feel almost at home right from the start.
Pro Generate HTML
HTML generation is supported right in the SDK.
Pro Same code in backend and frontend
Con Young language with limited support
Julia was released in 2012. Due to its short existence, there is a limited amount of support for the language. Very few libraries exist as of yet, and the community is still quite small (though growing quickly).
Con 1-based array and column major
This design probably come from Matlab, but makes it unnatural to interface C and C++ and python.
Con Currently has large runtime
Ceylon 1.2 needs a language runtime of 1.55 MiB, and the Collection library adds another 370 KiB. That's a lot for the Web...
Now, this has to be put in perspective: if you use Ceylon to make a web application, these files will be loaded once, then cached by the browser (that's not casual browsing).
Moreover, most servers compress such resource, and the numbers become respectively 234 KiB and 54 KiB, which is more reasonable...
Con Lack of physical or electronic books
We should hope Red Hat or anyone interested would take the time and write one. That would strengthen the maturity of the language, but Ceylon is rapidly developing which can make the author's efforts futile because his or hers work will become obsolete soon.
The second hindrance is, of course, popularity of the language which can't give much to the pockets of the author (however, Dart's unpopularity at start didn't prevent it to have a lot of printed material, but that's Google's child, we know).