JavaFX : the missed opportunity from Sun

Sun officially launched today “JavaFX” (previously know as F3). It’s a scripting language that could be used to easily create rich content application for Java powered device.
This seems to be the Sun’s answer to Apollo and SilverLight, from Microsoft. Honestly, the answer is a little bit disapointing

  • One more language! The language itself, is nothing really fancy. No major killing feature, not as dynamic as Ruby for instance, and not close enough to other “standards” like Javascript or Java. So why create another language, while there are so many?
  • Integration, deployment: I take a look at the first sample and libraries. The library is something between 1 and 2 meg, on top of a standard JavaVM (JavaSE!). So, it’s huge. That’s one of the big weaknesses of Java today: the runtime is already so big, the installation so long, but worst, the starting time once everything has been installed.
  • Target: mobile. Sun claims that it’s a good candidate for mobile application. Of course, it’s the next battlefield. But honestly, JavaFX is way too big to fit on existing mass market devices or any existing J2me implementation, so it needs to be embedded natively probably. I do not beleive that JavaFX mobile will be a serious candidate in the next 18 months, too early.
  • Why not pushing further SVG? SVG is the current standard in vector graphics (and Flash is the de-facto standard). So why not push more SVG, by creating a better binding with SVG and Java, and/or Javascript?

So I do not believe that JavaFX will be big. It’s another missed opportunity from Sun to reinvent themselves. They had a widely deployed VM, that had the “network is the computer vision”, and now they desperately trying to follow on the RIA…Ajax is an intermediate technology, soit’s a fantastic opportunity to create something really new, Microsoft and Adobe are on the train, and Sun still trying to jump in…

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8 thoughts on “JavaFX : the missed opportunity from Sun”

  1. Sun, along with others, are actually pushing SVG and Java integration further with JSR-287, and also JSR-290. But I agree that JavaFX looks like it duplicates several ongoing efforts in the Java community for little value.

  2. Well, I have the idea that this FX mobile techonology (and “product” said Schwartz from SUN) is an attempt to compete with the emerging Flash Lite technology in its own fields: ease of use, fast development, graphic appeal. Maybe it’ll be a failure, maybe not: i think it’ll depend on how flexible the whole framework is and how deep it’ll allow developers to interact with the communication tools of the device (BT, HTTP/s, sockets etc)

  3. Antoine:yes, one of the point I forgot to mention was the lack of “interaction” with the community….There was already a lot of on-going things here.

    Andrea: the thing is that Flash strengh was also the availbility of a good authoring tool. It’s not to the engineer(the guy who write the code) to create the UI. That’s for me one of the reason why demo looks so ugly except the one wich are a copy of existing Flash demo.

  4. Flash succeeded because it was first targeted to artists and then to programmers. Sun had the right vision from the start, all their suite of tools are dedicated to engineers.

    They is no way they can catch up with Adobe, the perception of the company is so different and the community huge.

    I’ve look at some JavaFX documentation and it’s totally unattractive, looks like a tutorial for making old-style applets. Nothing comparable with Microsoft demos at MIX07.

  5. JavaFX is still pretty raw from a tools standpoint and it’s true that it duplicates a lot of what Sun has been doing with SVG, but I think for Sun the point isn’t so much about the scripting language. I’m not sure it’s even so much about competing in the desktop RIA space. JavaFX Mobile is a complete mobile platform stack including a Linux kernel, Java telephony stack, and CLC Java runtime. The comparison isn’t to JSR 226, 287 and 290–it’s to Motorola EZX, a la Mobile, and other fully integrated platforms at the lower end of the smartphone market. It’s for second-tier ODMs who don’t have the resources to roll their own Flash Lite-based platform like Samsung can but want something more functional than a feature phone. Once the iPhone comes out there is going to be plenty of demand for knock-offs and I can see Sun doing a brisk licensing business to vendors trying to do that. Since MIDP runtimes go for pennies per unit now it’s hard to blame Sun for wanting to add more value to the stack.

  6. I think that’s the point with JavaFX: bring designers and artist’s to the Java side.
    Every one of us know how hard is to create a decent GUI with Java ME from the coder point of view. So, an artist cannot even try to begin to work on it with Java ME. I guess SUN wants to create something easier to use from designer not engineers, that’s why J. Schwartz said: “it will be a technology AND a product”. I guess an authoring tool will be soon available for JavaFX, as a plugin for Eclipse or Netbeans or (better) as a standalone tool.

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