Wednesday, November 19, 2008

JavaFX Will be Here Soon

Sun's answer to Flex and Silverlight will arrive in the first week of December. JavaFX, formerly JavaFX Script, is set to hit version 1.0 shortly after Thanksgiving, said a spokesperson with the company. Things at Sun are a bit chaotic right now, and the release may be delayed by as much as a week if things don't come together properly. This, evidently, has less to do with the technology than it has to do with the major changes in management throughout the company. Either way, the release itself will take the form of a new installer for Java.

That new installer isn't too different from the old one: it's the basic JavaSE desktop runtime with the JavaFX libraries included. Users who already have Java installed should be able to automatically pull those packages down upon the reception of a JavaFX application embedded in either a desktop or Web app.

NetBeans is the editor of choice for dealing with JavaFX, and this morning's release of version 6.5 quietly included all of the JavaFX tooling. No patch needed.

The big selling point for Sun, right now, is that JavaFX can run browser applications and desktop applications on the same runtime. Adobe's current schizoid approach with AIR, Flex and Flash could turn out to be an Achilles heel, if you believe Sun's pitch.

The benefit to developers is less understood at the moment, because, as usual with Sun, this type of thing is entirely new. The application benefits will have to be discovered elsewhere. For now, Sun shows off an in-browser video player, and shows that it can be quickly moved out of the browser and onto the desktop.

Perhaps video is the neatest new addition to the platform, here. Java has never had an embedded video codec, and here, in JavaFX, is such a beast. It's not even proprietary: they're licensing a standard codec.

Mac users will have to wait a little bit, as the Java code there is Apple's. Sun expects Apple to add JavaFX promptly upon release, possibly even the same day.

JavaFX should be an interesting new avenue for Sun. Eventually, the company plans to offer this language on mobile platforms, and right now, the target date for that capability is next summer. The idea is to have one language to rule them all.

Wasn't that what Java was supposed to be?

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