JavaFX RIA technology almost ready

General-release versions of JavaFX Desktop and JavaFX Script are due by the end of the year, and Sun officials say Java business is profitable

JavaFX, Sun Microsystems' entrant in the RIA (rich Internet application) space, is nearly ready for prime time, and by the way, the company is making money off of Java, company officials said Monday afternoon at the Adobe Max 2008 conference in San Francisco.

Featuring an application platform based on Java, a scripting component and runtimes for desktop and mobile systems, JavaFX, Sun officials said, gives the company a unique entrant in a market also featuring Adobe Systems, with Flash, and Microsoft, with Silverlight. Shipment of the base JavaFX platform for the desktop is planned for the end of this year.

[ For more news from Adobe Max 2008, see "Adobe bolsters streaming Flash" and "Adobe to offer new tools for UI development." ]

"We can actually today show you JavaFX running, and we are very close to shipping the final product," sad Eric Klein, Sun vice president for Java marketing.

Sun officials demonstrated JavaFX running with video capabilities, touting the ability to drag and drop video out of a browser and onto the desktop. With JavaFX, users have a single platform with both browser and desktop deployment capabilities, unlike Adobe, which provides Flash for the browser and AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) for the desktop, Sun officials stressed.

"Here, in one environment we save developers time, effort, and money, and they don't have to learn yet another developer environment," said Param Singh, Sun director of Java marketing.

General-release versions of JavaFX Desktop and JavaFX Script are due by the end of the year. Also due are an SDK and the JavaFX Production Suite, which allow developers and designers to work together. A mobile emulator for JavaFX also is due. The official JavaFX Mobile release will follow some time afterward; a JavaFX runtime for televisions also is planned.

JavaFX technologies, like the bulk of core Java offerings, are offered free of charge. But Sun still makes money off of Java and actually has been experiencing double-digit growth, Klein said. 

"The Java business is actually a very profitable business for Sun, Klein said.

Sun's ability to monetize Java sometimes has been called into question. With Sun last week announcing layoffs of 5,000 to 6,000 people amid losses, profitability certainly would seem mandatory for the company's individual technology lines. Java meets the grade, according to Sun.

An example of how money is made on the open source platform would be a recent relationship forged with Microsoft in which Microsoft can put value-added software on the Java runtime environment. United States-based users of the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser can opt to install an MSN toolbar with the runtime environment.

Another example is mobile phone companies paying Sun royalties for versions of the Java runtime optimized for their phones.

"Java is actually a big money maker for Sun," Klein reiterated. Company officials did not provide specific monetary figures.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.