Sun’s JavaFX, Take 2.

I wrote about JavaFX last year about this time. It’s back again with an all new, AJAX-heavy, marketing web site.


One thing that I hope inspires Microsoft is this:

“JavaFX Desktop for desktop browsers and desktop applications (available fall 2008)”

I ask (appropriate) Microsoft representatives almost every time I talk about Silverlight with them when an Adobe AIR, or desktop installed version of Silverlight is coming … nothing concrete forms (nothing even close). Give me a Silverlight that can be run OUTSIDE of the browser, across platforms.

Back to JavaFX and their AJAX-heavy web site (it’s clear they intentionally avoided using Flash even though that meant embedding videos as Quicktime … which often chokes on my machine unfortunately).

“Advantages of JavaFX

There are a large number of RIA requirements that remain unmet by any RIA platform, and Sun is uniquely positioned to address these challenges. JavaFX will be provide a number of unprecedented advantages:

Built on Java. JavaFX is not starting from scratch; it is built on the Java platform (Java SE and Java ME) and leverages the power and capabilities of the Java platform. It also extends the Java platform to deliver on the original promise of client-side Java. For example, Java ME has been distributed to 3 billion devices, far exceeding the distribution of Adobe Flash Lite, and JavaFX Mobile will deliver rich client capabilities on top of the Java ME platform.”

Client side Java, on PCs and Macs, is essentially dead (anyone think otherwise?). I dread web pages that kick off the Java runtime about as much as I dread a web page wanting me to install a new browser plug-in.

The Java language is in need of an overhaul (many Java pundits are saying this, not just me). I understand why they tout it, but …, is it really the best language/platform for this new breed of applications? What do you think?

“Across Devices and Screens. JavaFX applications will run across multiple devices or screens – browser, mobile, TV, etc.

Reach and Distribution. Sun will leverage its unrivaled reach to distribute the JavaFX runtime across all devices and screens.”

It would be great if the same platform can be used across devices, etc. But the same application (especially UI) is unlikely to be portable. A TV app does not make a good mobile app does not make a good browser application. Unrivaled reach? Excuse me?

There’s a tutorial you can watch … (I’d love to link to it, but their web site is too “AJAX-y”).


What confuses me is that the syntax he shows doesn’t look like Java at all? It looks like JavaScript. (And that’s because it is — it’s called JavaFX Script).

So, although there are 8 million Java developers (their number), they are expecting 8 million developers to learn a new UI platform and a new language? Hmm. Doubly interesting that they tried to sell me how great it was that it was built on Java, yet not the Java language. With Silverlight I could learn just one language from Web Server to client application to desktop application.  It still looks unnecessarily difficult to create a set of tools as the UI is mixed in with the code.  That also means it may be more difficult to have a developer and designer contribute to the same user interface.

Although maybe the competition will help, I’m not sure it has a chance:

  • Adobe has a huge advantage — Flash developers (and new Flex developers).
  • Microsoft has a huge advantage – .NET developers (especially those with UI experience).
  • Java — J2EE developers … uh …, not so much — as this isn’t like anything else they’ve done unless they happen to be into Javascript.

I’ve signed up to be notified about the preview release, and will blog more when I get access. If you have any thoughts about JavaFX and its future, share them!

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