Sun premiering JavaFX Mobile component

Rich media apps platform to be offered on phones, and ISVs will be able to build mobile apps with the JavaFX Mobile SDK

Proceeding to a critical phase in the rollout of its JavaFX platform for rich media client applications, Sun will ship on Thursday a mobile runtime component enabling JavaFX applications to run on handheld devices such as phones.

Sun with JavaFX and the new JavaFX Mobile runtime will compete with technologies such as Microsoft's Silverlight rich Internet application platform. But Sun believes it has a leg up on the competition because mobile service providers and handset builders can leverage existing Java ME (Micro Edition) investments, something that is critical in tough economic times. There already are 2.6 billion devices running Java ME, said Param Singh, senior director of Java marketing at Sun.

[ Related: Can JavaFX make a play for rich Internet apps? ]

"This is a sounder decision for them to make in this economy," Singh said.

Sun is premiering JavaFX Mobile at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.

The runtime will be delivered to partners, including original equipment manufacturers and service providers. Also shipping will be a JavaFX Mobile SDK. Companies set to endorse JavaFX include handset manufacturers Sony Ericsson and LG Electronics as well as service providers Orange and Sprint. Sun also will announce ISVs building mobile applications using JavaFX Mobile, including Cynergy Systems and MobiTV.

JavaFX is focused on such capabilities as animation, audio, and video. Developers can use the JavaFX Script language and the JavaFX platform to quickly build these applications.

"The OEM partners will be embedding the JavaFX Mobile runtime onto devices so that people can build rich mobile applications," said Singh.

Service providers will bundle a JavaFX application with the JavaFX runtime and deliver it to existing handsets.

JavaFX Mobile will rely on Java ME (Micro Edition) for capabilities such as Bluetooth support and camera, location and networking capabilities, Singh said. OEMs will be able to put out JavaFX Mobile-capable phones out as soon as this year, he said. These companies will at some point offer a JavaFX support roadmap, Singh said.

Sun also is in discussions with a range of partners pertaining to JavaFX Mobile, he said. Additional support announcements are anticipated at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco in early-June.

A Sun ISV planning to roll out a JavaFX Mobile application this week emphasized Java capabilities as an advantage. The application 6thSpace, from Malden Labs, serves as a portable portal interface that can funnel various types of data, such as audio, video, and stock information, to the device, said Thom Theriault, CTO and chief marketing officer at Malden.

Originally, the Malden application was developed with Adobe's Flex tool for the Flash platform. "What we determined was it was going to be easy to [do] the easy things and harder to do the harder things," Theriault said. With Adobe's technologies, it was easy to do GUI development but difficult to access capabilities like security and networking, he said.

"This is where the beauty of being totally integrated into the Java stack is so important to us," said Theriault.

"What [Sun is] doing with JavaFX is giving us the ability to create rich client user interfaces to take advantage of the entire Java stack in the back end," and enabling portability across devices, he said. Malden used JavaFX Script to build its application.

The JavaFX Mobile runtime follows the December launch of the JavaFX Desktop runtime for desktop computers. 

"Since then, we've had more than 100,000 downloads of the SDK and more than 80 million downloads of the JavaFX runtime," Singh said. JavaFX has been used in applications ranging from social applications to enterprise systems, he said.

A runtime for television set-top boxes, IPTV, gaming systems, and Blu-ray disc players and other systems is due later this year or in early 2010.

Correction: This story as originally posted misstated the number of JavaFX runtime downloads. The article has been amended.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

How to choose a low-code development platform