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Sun Announces JavaFX

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sun Microsystems today unveiled a new product line at its annual JavaOne conference, underway this week in San Francisco. Built on and around Java, JavaFX is aimed at the growing market for rich Internet applications (RIA). It addresses what Sun's EVP of software, Rich Green, calls "opportunities in the consumer communication market," including desktops, mobile clients and TVs.

The new JavaFX line comes with its own scripting language, called JavaFX Script.

"With this scripting language we are taking advantage of the high-volume distribution of Java, all the way from desktop to mobile device," Green told reporters during a pre-conference briefing, "and we're allowing the folks who operate at the creative level to develop content, fast, that can be deployed on a wide range of devices."

JavaFX Mobile

Sun previewed the first product release in the JavaFX line, JavaFX Mobile, at the conference. Green described the product as a complete software system "from the metal up" for mobile devices. It's designed to leverage the security and ubiquity of the Java platform, Green said, and will support all content and applications currently available across the billions of Java technology-based devices in the world today. JavaFX Mobile will be available via OEM license to carriers, content owners and consumer electronics manufacturers.

"Companies and organizations are struggling to reach consumers with their messages and content in a form and manner that aligns with their needs," Green said. "At the same time, individuals are driving the structure and content of the Web. And the historic boundaries that have been applied to communication are being dissolved by technology and the Internet. With JavaFX we are setting forth a new set of programs and products that address this person-to-person and enterprise-to-person communication paradigm."

Sun executives hesitated to position JavaFX as a competitor to Adobe's Flash and Apollo and Microsoft's Silverlight scripting environments. However, they were happy to suggest that JavaFX Script could eventually outflank JavaScript, the scripting language at the heart of the AJAX development model. (Despite the name, JavaScript has nothing to do with Java.)

"JavaFX Script is focused on the content-authoring and content creation crowd," Green said. "It is a means of creating visually impactful, high-performance, dramatic Web and network-facing artifacts or experiences that run all the way from the desktop running Java SE (Standard Edition) to mobile devices powered by JavaFX Mobile."

Handset Market

Among other things, JavaFX seems to be a response to a growing realization in the industry that handheld devices and mobile phones are increasingly important computing platforms, especially in developing countries.

"There are parts of the world where a person’s desktop computer is their cell phone, and that’s the kind of end point that we’re going to get to," observed Sun Fellow James Gosling, who is known as the father of Java.

Making a special appearance at JavaOne, Dr. Djibril Diallo, director of the United Nations New York Office of Sport for Development and Peace, and chair of the U.N. Youth Summit series, echoed Gosling's observation.

"Bringing the Internet to people through mobile handsets can greatly expand access, and it is imperative that the technology industry continues to innovate to make that a reality worldwide," Diallo said. "The challenge for the entire industry and Sun is in making new technology accessible in developing countries, leveraging its power to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015."

Sun is expected to deliver additional JavaFX products to the manufacturers of set-top boxes, navigation devices and automobile dashboards. And the company plans to open source the product line, Green said. More information about JavaFX Mobile can be found at http://www.sun.com/javafx.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of Converge360.com sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].


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