Sun gears JavaFX for consumer move

JavaOne show will spotlight Sun's plans to expand the JavaFX platform to enable development of consumer apps

JavaFX, introduced by Sun last year as a Java-based platform for building visually oriented applications, will be leveraged in the growing consumer application space.

Company officials Tuesday afternoon discussed Sun's plans, which will be emphasized at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco in two weeks. JavaFX technologies currently are available only in pre-release forms, but Sun already has big plans to expand the platform to enable development of consumer applications including productivity systems, games, and social applications similar to Facebook.

"The general idea is that consumers, more and more, are driving technology adoption today," said Eric Klein, vice president of Java marketing at Sun. Previously, enterprises drove this adoption, but now a user may be looking at business e-mail on his phone while also contemplating weekend plans, he said.

"The transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 has really come to full fruition," said Klein.

Already featuring a scripting element called JavaFX Script, JavaFX also will include extensions called profiles, which enable applications to be tuned to specific varieties of systems. The first of these will be called JavaFX Desktop, for desktop systems.

Also planned are the previously announced JavaFX Mobile, for mobile applications, as well as profiles for set-top boxes, smart phones, and feature phones, which offer more limited capabilities than smart phones. Another component of Sun's JavaFX stack is the FX Player, which features a Java virtual machine.

Sun officials did not have firm release dates Tuesday for the various planned JavaFX technologies. The company anticipates JavaFX being used in both consumers and enterprise systems. While it could be argued that Sun's consumer play is late to the game, considering rival systems such as Adobe's Photoshop and Flash, Klein sees a place for Java.

"Actually, Java is the predominant platform and [users have] been asking us, 'When are you going to enter this RIA environment?'" Klein said. "With FX, we're coming in full force."

"Our vision statement is really that Java is the platform for the screens of your life," Klein said.

The Sun-backed NetBeans open source tools platform will serve as the basis for building JavaFX applications, but additional tools will be added as supplements. Capabilities for application designers will be included in the mix.

Sun's consumer ecosystem partners for Java include traditional Java developers, content/media-oriented developers, worldwide operators, advertisers, and consumers. Sun officials noted that Java already is on billions of phones.

Other clues as to what will be happening at the conference can be found in the JavaOne session program. Among the sessions planned for is a presentation by Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation for open source tooling. This will be Milinkovich's fourth appearance at JavaOne, a foundation representative said. Sun is one of the few major holdouts from Eclipse participation.

Milinkovich and Eclipse's Wayne Beaton plan to talk about this year's Eclipse project releases and will demonstrate a Java-based application for laptops, a Linux server, and a mobile device. Entitled "The Many Moons of Eclipse," the session will focus on writing code for OSGi-based applications. OSGi is a key technology used by Eclipse.

Also featured at JavaOne will be a session on the 6uN update of Java Platform, Standard Edition 6, which is now available in a public beta release. The update has a new Java Plug-In technology that supports applets in the browser.

"This 'next generation' Java Plug-In technology combines the best architectural features of the Java Plug-In and Java Web Start technologies and provides a robust new platform for deployment of Java and JavaFX technology-based content in the Web browser," the session program states.

Also included are capabilities for deploying consumer content, such as the ability to increase heap size and specify command-line arguments on a per-applet basis. Enterprises gain the ability to select a particular version of the Java Runtime Environment for an individual applet. Better integration is offered between Java and JavaScript. Support for the Java Network Launching Protocol enables applets to immediately reuse extensions originally designed for Java Web Start applications, such as the components of the JavaFX platform.

JavaOne also will feature a session on Project Sailfin, an extension of the GlassFish Java EE application server used to build a SIP-enabled (Session Initiation Protocol) communication application server.

Also planned is a session on Project Nimbus, billed as the "new face" of the Swing desktop client platform. "Nimbus is the stunning next-generation cross-platform look-and-feel for the Java platform, perfect for skinning Swing components in existing applications and new FX applications," according to the program.

JavaOne also gives a nod to scripting languages such as PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor). A session entitled, "The Duke and the Elephant: PHP Meets Java Technology -The Best of Both Worlds," covers the Project Zero architecture, which is an IBM incubator effort focused on agile development of dynamic Web applications. Project Zero features a PHP runtime that executes in a Java virtual machine and an Eclipse IDE.

Another session will focus on predictions for server-side Java, and will take a look at programming models, standards, languages, innovations, and challenges.

Also on Tuesday, Sun and the Java Card Forum announced availability of version 3.0 of the Java Card specification, which provides a Java platform for small, resource-constrained devices such as credit/debit cards and SIMs for mobile handsets. New features in version 3.0 include an embedded Java Web server, network-orientation via TCP/IP, the ability to leverage standard Java development, and backward compatibility with previous releases.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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