Sun defends JavaFX Script

Despite multitude of scripting languages, need is served by new platform, Sun official says

In a world where the list of scripting languages for application development seems endless, is Sun's JavaFX Script one too many?

This question was raised during the JavaOne conference in San Francisco Wednesday, with an attendee wondering why Sun needed to have its own scripting variant. JavaFX Script is part of Sun's JavaFX rich Internet application platform, first announced a year ago but being filled out with product deliverables this year.

With JavaFX Script, Sun is offering up a scripting language very similar to what already was available, argued developer Angsuman Chakraborty, CEO of Taragana. It is hard for developers to learn another language, Chakraborty said.

"I don’t think they need another language," Chakraborty said in an interview after first airing his views during a session with Sun officials. "It is an idiotic exercise, to put it bluntly. There is Groovy, there is JavaScript. All these languages are good enough and they can be molded into solving the needs of JavaFX."

But Sun CTO Bob Brewin emphasized in an interview that JavaFX Script features a new set of capabilities such as allowing development of applications that can be moved outside the browser. JavaFX Script also is designed for content authors, not necessarily developers alone.

"Languages are created to solve specific problems, like you create a tool to solve a particular problem," Brewin said.

JavaFX enables development of applications that can run on phones, the browser, and the desktop and this requires another language besides JavaScript, he said. An early-access release of JavaFX Script is to be released in July as part of a JavaFX software development kit, Brewin said.

He also acknowledged that applets, which had once been hailed as client-based applications for Java in the 1990s, would be revived with JavaFX.

With JavaFX and the Java 6 Update 10 release, also called Consumer JRE (Java Runtime Environment), developers can deploy applications to browsers and have applets dragged out onto the desktop.

Brewin also cited a deal with On2 Technologies in which On2 will provide video capabilities for JavaFX. On2 video codecs will be included. This will make JavaFX video similar to or even better than Adobe's Flash, Brewin said. These capabilities are part of the July JavaFX SDK.

Developer tools for JavaFX include existing plugins for NetBeans as well as a transformer tool linking products such as Adobe Photoshop to JavaFX, Brewin said.

Sun officials Wednesday noted Sun's own acceptance of various scripting languages such as Ruby and Python on the Java Virtual Machine and even plan an event around the trend, the 2008 JVM Language Summit, in September.

Brewin also filled in details about Sun's cloud services effort, called Project Hydrazine. It is to feature an infrastructure enabling developers to run services on the Web such as mapping, location, calendaring, and e-mail services. Due next year, Hydrazine is to be part of Sun's grid infrastructure.

Also part of Hydrazine is Project Insight, which will measure who is visiting Web sites. Developers will be able to find who is using their service and perhaps could deliver targeted advertising.

Hydrazine combines attributes offered in Microsoft's Live Mesh data folder-sharing service, the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud Web-based service and Google Analytics, Brewin said.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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