JavaFX Launches in Uncertain Times
Sun Microsystems today officially announced the launch of its JavaFX runtime,
platform and development tools for rich Internet application (RIA) development.
JavaFX consists of the JavaFX Development Environment compiler, libraries and
runtime tooling; the JavaFX Production Suite for managing assets and workflow;
and the JavaFX Desktop runtime environment. Developers craft applications using
the declarative JavaFX Script.
Sun officials also announced JavaFX tooling plug-ins for the Eclipse and NetBeans
IDEs, as well as plug-in filters for Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator design
software. The plug-ins enable JavaFX developers and Adobe Creative Suite designers
to collaborate on common files, much the way .NET developers can share XAML-based
projects between Visual Studio and Expression Blend.
"It lets you take your illustrations and graphics and all the richness...and
export into JavaFX format. You get a two-way workflow," Param Singh, Sun
senior director of Java marketing, told me. "Initially, the NetBeans plug-in
will be somewhat more feature-rich than Eclipse. We are looking to reach [feature]
parity in the spring."
JavaFX is designed to run either inside or outside of a client Web browser.
Waters reports, systems equipped with the Java Standard Edition 6 Update
10 can run JavaFX apps. The JavaFX Mobile Runtime, expected in the spring of
2009, will enable app development for handheld devices and smartphones.
JavaFX 1.0 joins Microsoft Silverlight 2, released in October, and the Adobe
stack of Flash, Flex and Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) as the third major RIA
offering. While some industry watchers are skeptical of the late entry, Michael
Cote, industry analyst for Redmonk Inc, said JavaFX enjoys a key advantage.
"As with Silverlight, JavaFX has the huge advantage of an existing developer
community -- namely Java," Cote said. "What comes with that community
is a strong understanding and connection to application development and services
and back-ends that they require. That community is heavily geared toward Web
UI'ed applications now and have been without a GUI layer for a long time."
Peter O'Kelly, principal analyst for O'Kelly Consulting, is less sanguine.
"I believe the best-case scenario for JavaFX is niche status within strongly
Java-focused organizations," O'Kelly said. "It may be great technology
in many respects, but the odds are against JavaFX reaching anything close to
the ecosystem momentum Adobe Flash Player has and Microsoft Silverlight is building
-- and of course Sun is not in a position to invest a lot in trying to change
O'Kelly is referring to Sun's November announcement that it will lay
off up to 6,000 employees over the next year, a reduction that could ultimately
account for more than 15 percent of Sun's total workforce. Sun's stock price
has also been battered, falling below $4 per share from about $20 a year ago.
Sun President and CEO Jonathan Schwartz argued that Sun's financial struggles
have little to do with JavaFX's prospects for success.
"It's important not to confuse the global financial crisis and its impact
on Sun's high-end systems business, with our strategy to build out and to continue
to develop our market opportunity," Schwartz told RDN in an interview.
"The Java platform today is our most financially successful software platform
at Sun. It's a very profitable enterprise. [JavaFX] will simply accelerate that."
Do you intend to give JavaFX a close look, and could it sway your dev shop
from other RIA alternatives? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and let me know what you think of Sun's RIA effort.
Posted by Michael Desmond on 12/04/2008 at 1:15 PM