Sun Microsystems has released JavaFX, which the company bills as one of the most significant advancements to the Java platform.
With the release of JavaFX 1.0 on Dec. 4, Sun delivers a new platform that merges form and functionality for building RIAs (rich Internet applications) with immersive media and content for Web browsers and desktops.
In an interview with eWEEK, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz called JavaFX “one of the most important innovations to come out of Sun.”
In a separate eWEEK interview, Param Singh, senior director of Java marketing at Sun, said the JavaFX 1.0 release includes three components: the JavaFX Development Environment, the JavaFX Production Suite and the JavaFX Desktop.
The JavaFX Development Environment includes the compiler and run-time tools, graphics, media, Web services, and rich text libraries, along with the NetBeans IDE (integrated development environment) 6.5. It also includes JavaFX plug-ins for both NetBeans and Eclipse IDEs. In addition, the JavaFX Development Environment includes a mobile emulator for developers to preview building mobile applications with JavaFX.
“Our design goal has been to create an environment that would let designers and developers architect an application once and have it run across all their screens,” Singh said. “Mobile is the first instantiation of this. At JavaOne we committed to deliver the mobile run-time by early 2009.”
The JavaFX Production Suite is a set of tools and plug-ins that allow Web designers to dramatically reduce production times, Singh said. Single-click conversion for media formats to JavaFX allows graphics assets from design programs, such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, to be easily incorporated into JavaFX applications. Using the JavaFX Production Suite, developers can collaborate more efficiently with graphics designers through a simple exchange of media assets, Singh said. In addition, the resulting applications will maintain a consistent look and feel across all browsers on multiple platforms, the company added.
The JavaFX Desktop leverages the major features of Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) 6 Update 10, such as the new implementation of the Java plug-in, which allows consumers to drag and drop applets that are running in their browser directly onto their desktop and provides a widgetlike experience for all of their Java applications and applets.
Indeed, among the many innovations in JavaFX is the Java platform’s Drag-to-Install feature, allowing end users for the first time ever to simply drag and drop JavaFX applications from their browsers onto their desktops, Sun officials said. End users will now be able to move applets that are running in their browser directly onto their desktop, providing a widgetlike experience for all of their Java applications and applets, the company said.
Developers and Web designers can download JavaFX 1.0 here. Full product details, more than 80 code samples and applications, tutorials, articles, and documentation for JavaFX can be found there.
Schwartz said Sun’s JavaFX 1.0 platform opens a vast global market for developers and Web designers who want to deploy their content, services and experiences across all the screens of their customers’ lives. Worldwide industry estimates show that Java is already on more than 90 percent of desktops and laptops, and 85 percent of mobile devices, and is a technology leader in next-generation televisions, Blu-ray disc players and TV set-top boxes.
Schwartz said the dominant distribution channel for new software has been the browser-either Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox or others, now including the Google Chrome browser, but each of those platforms come with various issues. “It’s in that void that the Java platform has arisen” as a distribution vehicle, he said. “We’re on almost every handset in the marketplace, we have additional distribution on the desktop, and we’re distributed across every market in the world,” Schwartz said.
Backing up Schwartz’s claims, Sun officials said that with more than 6.5 million software developers around the world, Java is one of the most popular software platforms and is present on more than 800 million desktop computers and over 6 billion Internet-connected devices.
Extending Java Platforms Capabilities
Moreover, JavaFX extends the capabilities of the Java platform with graphics, animation and high-fidelity audio and video, the company said. And it enables developers to build powerful, more capable and secure RIAs and easily integrate them with new or existing enterprise back-end systems and online Web services. Web services support also allows rapid development of both mashups and enterprise applications, Sun officials said.
“The RIA market continues to grow as consumers demand applications that provide rich, media-centric, interactive experiences,” said Eric Klein, vice president of Java marketing at Sun, in a statement. “The availability of JavaFX 1.0 is the next milestone in Sun’s strategy to enable immersive media and content across all the screens of life-desktops, browsers, mobile devices and TV. JavaFX 1.0 provides developers and Web designers with a rich, expressive experience and a unified development and deployment model that allows them to quickly create the next generation of RIAs that seamlessly blend form and function.”
Moreover, Singh said JavaFX offers a shortened production cycle for both Java developers and Web designers and makes it easy to create applications integrating graphics, video, audio, animation and rich text. Also, using the new JavaFX mobile emulator, developers can preview their applications on the forthcoming JavaFX mobile platform, which will be available to Sun’s mobile partners in spring 2009.
In conjunction with the release of JavaFX 1.0, “We’ve started working with design shops as well as enterprise developers to start getting direct feedback,” Singh said. “They are writing applications in Java, but JavaFX provides a rich presentation layer.
However, because JavaFX is based on Java, “it’s ease of learning, familiarity and choice that this platform [JavaFX] delivers,” Singh said.
Also, in support of JavaFX, Sun is offering a new seminar and workshop for Web developers and Java programmers that teaches how to use JavaFX for developing RIAs. The educational support shows how to use JavaFX to create animations and effects, add multimedia to applications, and incorporate Java into JavaFX applications.