Sun Puts Muscle Behind JavaFX

Sun delivers applications and projects to support the JavaFX technology announced a year ago.

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SAN FRANCISCO-At JavaOne here, Sun Microsystems followed up on technology it announced this time last year and showed demos and new plans for bringing its JavaFX technology to market in the near term.

Sun announced JavaFX at JavaOne in 2007, promoting the technology, particularly JavaFX Script, as a competing technology to leading technologies used for creating and deploying RIAs (rich Internet applications). Now in 2008, the company has stepped up with real examples of the technology in use.

The question is whether Sun is too late to the party.

In his keynote address at the opening session of the JavaOne conference on May 6, Rich Green, executive vice president of software at Sun, showed dynamic content, sophisticated services and application mashups made possible by JavaFX.

Green discussed the future of JavaFX and described an initiative known as Project Insight, which will empower developers with the option to generate revenue through advertising on mobile applications. "Project Insight is a project to monetize this stuff," Green said, by "providing instrumentation" about how users use the applications built with JavaFX.

Green also outlined a road map for the JavaFX family of products that includes JavaFX Script, a high-performance declarative scripting language for Web scripters, designers and developers to quickly build and deliver the next generation of RIAs for desktop, mobile, TV and other consumer devices.

Green said Sun will deliver an SDK (software development kit) early access program in July 2008. The company will then deliver the first version of JavaFX Desktop for the browser and desktop by fall 2008. Sun is also currently working with most of the leading global handset manufacturers and carriers and plans to deliver the first versions of JavaFX Mobile and JavaFX TV in spring 2009, Green said.

Meanwhile, Eric Klein, Sun's vice president of Java marketing, demonstrated JavaFX Mobile running on the Google Android emulator that was created by the community. The purpose of this demo was to show the portability of JavaFX to other platforms, Sun officials said. "This is not a product announcement, and Sun has no plans around Android at this time," the company said in a statement.

Green also mentioned another project Sun is looking at known as Project Hydrazine, which is to come some time after the delivery of the JavaFX family of products.

"Imagine if we could bring all these things together and create a platform, with access to disk, cloud, services" and more, said Green. That is the vision for Project Hydrazine, he said. The goal of the Sun efforts is to enable developers and users to "find, merge, deploy, share and monetize" applications. Green said.

Some observers said Project Hydrazine sounds a lot like Sun's Project Destination, which is "a comprehensive platform that can allow service providers to realize their business objectives of being the services destination for their customers," said a description of the project on a Web page identifying it.

Anne Thomas Manes, an analyst with the Burton Group, who was in the audience for the keynote, questioned the innovation in Sun's announcements. "So Sun has discovered RIAs; they're only four years late."