Sun Tries to Outshine Silverlight, Flash; Targets Mobile

Sun's new JavaFX Script scripting language for creating rich content and applications looks like an attempt at bringing Adobe Flash-like technology to the free software world.

SAN FRANCISCO—Sun Microsystems previewed its JavaFX Script technology at the JavaOne show here on May 8.

JavaFX Script is Suns scripting language for creating rich content and applications to run on browsers and billions of Java-powered devices such as mobile phones and Blu-ray Disc players, the company said. JavaFX Mobile, a member of the same product family, targets the device market.

"Wouldnt it be cool if we could take Java and say, This platform is everywhere, so why cant we add a new focus on consumers?" said Rich Green, executive vice president of software at Sun, based in Santa Clara, Calif., during his keynote at JavaOne. Then Green announced JavaFX, "a family of products from Sun including tools and open-source programs focused on consumer-oriented technologies to create visually impactful technologies."

Green then introduced JavaFX Script, a scripting language for building RIAs (rich Internet applications). He said Sun would be presenting a road map for delivering content authoring tools for JavaFX Script. The product is aimed at content professionals and leverages Javas "unmatched reach, stability and security," Green said.

James Gosling, the father of Java, called JavaFX Script "a beautiful piece of work. One of the areas untouched by scripting languages is building rich, graphical experiences and dynamic user interfaces," he said.

Chris Oliver, a Sun staff engineer, created JavaFX Script on his own, Green said. The first of a series of content authoring products from Sun, JavaFX Script enables content-rich, highly interactive sites to be built by creative professionals such as designers, authors and developers.

JavaFX Script takes advantage of the JREs (Java Runtime Environments) ubiquity across devices and enables creative professionals to begin building applications using their current knowledge base. It also uses Java technologys "write once, run anywhere" capability to help realize a future where consumers can access content whenever and wherever on any Java-powered device, the company said. JavaFX applications will run on desktop browsers and JavaFX Mobile, Suns software system for mobile devices, which was also previewed at JavaOne, Green said.

"Consumer demand for content on any and every device is putting content convergence on a fast track," Bob Brewin, chief technology officer of Software for Sun Microsystems, said in a statement. "The expanding universe of Java-based devices creates a unique opportunity to make the three-screen vision of unified content across computer, TV and mobile device a reality … With JavaFX Script and Suns follow-on content authoring tools, Sun will simplify the creation of rich content for the creative community and give consumers the ability to access content anytime anywhere on any Java-powered device."

/zimages/3/28571.gifGuru Jakob Nielsen offers advice on designing applications for usability. Click here to watch the video.

JavaFX Script applications will run on any Java SE technology-based platform including all of the upcoming JavaFX software systems for mobile handsets, TVs and other embedded applications, from automobiles to game systems. JavaFX Script is unique in providing close integration with Java components that run on the server or the client, resulting in a richer end-to-end experience. JavaFX Script brings together a simple and intuitive language design, requiring less coding and providing fast development cycles, with a ubiquitous run-time platform and an open-source program for innovation by developers worldwide. Over time, Sun will enhance the JavaFX family with content tools, widgets and other offerings that will further aid developers in creating rich media and content, the company said.

Sun plans to make JavaFX Script available under an open-source license and on May 8 released the early alpha version of JavaFX Script at on Developers are invited to join the JavaFX community, download the code and provide input and feedback.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about Suns announcements at JavaOne.

Meanwhile, Green asked, "Is there a way to take the power of Java and project it into a form to reach everybody?" That way is JavaFX Mobile, a complete and integrated Java system for mobile devices, he said. And it supports JavaFX content authoring tools.

"It is Java SE [Java Standard Edition]," Green said. "It brings the entire power of Java SE to everyone on Earth." More specifically, the technology is to be made available to OEMs throughout the world, Green said.

JavaFX Mobile includes technology assets that Sun acquired from SavaJe Technologies, which went out of business in 2006. Nandini Ramani, a member of the JavaFX Core Team, said one of the key features of JavaFX Mobile is it runs on a range of devices.

Marco Boerries, senior vice president at Yahoo, said he believes technologies like JavaFX Mobile can help Yahoo bring 500 million Yahoo users to mobile devices. "There are billions of people who will never experience the Internet on a PC, but who will on a mobile device," Boerries said.

Djibril Diallo, head of the United Nations N.Y. Office of Sport for Development and Peace, said the Republic of Congo, one of the richest nations in Africa, has fewer than 100 fixed phone lines, but has one of the highest usages of cell phone technology in Africa, if not the world. So the mobile device is likely to be the primary method of Internet connection there and in many other developing parts of the world.

Anne Thomas Manes, an analyst with Burton Group, said, "The ability to actually create an application that youll be able to run on any mobile device just doesnt exist today—each device has its own operating systems and quirks. There is Windows Mobile, Symbian, Qualcomm BREW; theyre all different. So if it is possible that we get JavaFX Mobile widely deployed, itll be very valuable to the industry."

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