Nearly three years after its introduction, the JavaFX multimedia application development platform that Oracle inherited from Sun Microsystems remains just another entrant in a crowded field, with questions looming about how much momentum the platform can gather.
Unveiled at the JavaOne conference in May 2007, JavaFX is intended to provide a Java-based entrant into the growing market for development of multimedia whiz-bang applications for desktops and mobile devices. JavaFX 1.0 was released in December 2008, and as of June 2009, there had been more than 400,000 downloads of the JavaFX tools and SDK, according to the official JavaFX Web page. JavaFX is available on more than 250 million desktops, the page says. The platform features the JavaFX Script scripting language, a rich client platform and tools, and integration with the Java runtime.
But the debut of JavaFX trailed RIA (rich Internet application) technologies, such as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and AJAX, giving JavaFX rivals a sometimes-substantial head start in developer and market mindshare. Compounding the difficulties faced by JavaFX (and its rivals, for that matter) is the emergence the HTML5 specification, which some view as an eventual, standards-based successor to all the current proprietary multimedia development platforms.
Oracle, however, is marching on with JavaFX, emphasizing its commitment to it last year while the company's acquisition of Sun was pending. An authoring tool for designers is planned as part of the JavaFX tools ecosystem. JavaFX also was used at the Vancouver Winter Olympics last month on the Vancouver2010.com Web site, although that fact was obscured by the use of Silverlight at the same games by NBC.
Can Oracle overcome a slow start?
Despite Oracle's commitment, JavaFX has its doubters and proponents.
One developer, Mark Volkmann, a steering committee member of the Saint Louis Java Users Group, says JavaFX has been slow in its progress. "I think it wasn't too late when they first announced it, but I think they have moved too slowly since they've announced it," says Volkmann, who prefers HTML5.