JavaFX rich client environment due to hit public beta this spring

Version 2.0 will boast improvements like Java APIs for JavaFX, embedding HTML content within a JavaFX app, and improved deployment

JavaFX 2.0, an upgrade to the Java-based rich client application environment started by Sun Microsystems, is due to move to a public beta phase this spring with general availability planned for later in the year, Oracle said on Friday.

Principal focus areas for version 2.0 include Java APIs for JavaFX, a high-performance graphics engine, media playback support, the ability to embed HTML content within a JavaFX application, UI controls and improved deployment. Version 2.0 has been in an early access phase of development.

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"JavaFX is a way for Java programmers to get at features exposed by modern graphics cards," said Adam Messinger, Oracle vice president of development for Fusion Middleware, this week at the Server Side Java Symposium in Las Vegas. Oracle bought Sun in 2010.

But JavaFX has had a lower public profile than other rich client technologies, such as HTML5 and the proprietary Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash platforms. For several attendees polled Friday at the symposium, JavaFX was not a priority. "Haven't used it," said Mike Ward, an architect at Ironworks Consulting. " I'm aware of it," said Izaak Alpert, senior developer at IT services provider IMP solutions, adding that JavaFX has been "totally unnecessary for any of the work that I do."

With the Java APIs for JavaFX, Oracle stated on the JavaFX website that developers will be able to access JavaFX capabilities without having to learn a scripting language. The APIs replace the JavaFX Script language that had been part of the JavaFX platform. But developers who still want to use JavaFX Script capabilities can leverage the Visage project, which provides a Domain Specific Language for writing user interfaces.

The Visage Project's Stephen Chin, a JavaFX developer, said Friday the Java APIs will boost JavaFX's accessibility to Java developers. "I think it will unify the community around the platform," Chin said. JavaFX Script, while innovative, "divided the Java community," he said when interviewed at the symposium. He participated in a panel session about Java client development technologies.

Tying JavaFX to Java more means developers can use languages that will run on the Java Virtual Machine, such as JRuby, when programming for JavaFX, Chin said. Chin, who is chief agile methodologist at B2B services provider GXS, also expects accommodations for HTML5 in JavaFX next year

Also at the symposium, Rod Johnson, founder of the Spring Framework and senior vice president at VMware, said the company's Code2Cloud tools suite, for cloud application development and deployment, is expected to be available in a beta release in May. "What it does is provide the linking between deployment destinations in the cloud and the developer desktop," Johnson said.

Anticipated for commercial release toward the end of this year, Code2Cloud initially will support Java and Ruby on Rails application development. PHP and Python support is eyed for an upgrade to the platform.

Interviewed at the conference, Engine Yard's Charles Nutter, a principal developer in charge of JRuby, said planning has begun on JRuby 1.7. JRuby is an is an implementation of the Ruby language for the Java Virtual Machine. With version 1.7, builders hope to add capabilities derived from Java Platform, Standard Edition 7, including invokeDynamic and NIO 2 (New IO).

"Invokedynamic will make it much faster for us to run Ruby code," Nutter said. "NIO 2 will add some file system APIs that let us do things that we've had to hack around before," Nutter said. JRuby 1.6 was released this week.

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