Thursday, December 4, 2008

JavaFX More Popular Than Even Sun Expected

JavaFX1.0 is out. Go play with it. Evidently, everyone else already has.
This morning, when Sun Microsystems opened the doors on its packages of JavaFX 1.0, developer suite and all, the servers buckled. Seems like even Sun had low expectations for this seemingly also-ran RIA/presentation layer language. Either that, or something is dreadfully wrong with this infrastructure company that can't keep its infrastructure running at top speed.
Tonight, Sun held a little soiree at Temple in San Francisco, where they had partners and pedagogues extolling the virtues of this new Java-like whiz-bang. After hearing all of the same things from Sun, I went after some of the partner programmers who were on hand, demonstrating their decidedly multi-media-centric creations.
And after speaking to Lucas from EffectiveUI, I'm convinced that this may not be a complete disaster. He'd worked with Flex, as EffectiveUI is primarily focused on Webish RIAs. In his opinion, the animation capabilities in JavaFX are fantastic. Some of the backside is still a little warty, but if you've already got a Java-based Web infrastructure, he said that this is better than Swing. He said he was an old-hand at Swing, and acknowledged that there were amazing things that could still be done with it. But the way he described it, he prefered handling user interfaces and graphics in JavaFX.
That alone is enough to make this worth taking a look at. Most of the world felt the same way, because Sun's servers were crippled today, slowing to a snail's pace as everyone and their siblings sucked down the fresh binaries.
Dan Ingalls, of Lively Kernel fame, was also on hand, demonstrating the latest level of meta: Lively kernel running on top of JavaFX. He then created the world's first Wankel Rotary Piano by tying a keyboard widget to a demonstration of the afforementioned motor. Not really sure how any of Dan's work will make Sun money, but it's great to see him creatively enabled. The man and his team are artists.
My only complaint about everything I saw tonight: slow. Sun obviously has some optimization work ahead of it. Every JavaFX demo from the company shows off 9 streaming HD videos playing at once. Then they focus in on one, and it gets choppy. Great, you can play 9 movies at once. Can you play any of them fullscreen without dropping half the frames? I'm not sure because they never show less tan 9 videos running at once. I would simply like to see for myself that JavaFX can play one HD movie without getting choppy. Some of the demos were choppy too. A tad worrying, but I'm sure it will only get faster.
Hats off to Sun. Looks like everything went right this time. Now the hard part: beating Adobe and Microsoft.

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