Sun comes up with JavaFX in RIA battle

Sun Microsystems today is announcing JavaFX which will take on Adobe’s Flex/Flash/Apollo and Microsoft’s Silverlight in the battle for rich internet applications developers.

Since Adobe has a position of strength with designers and Microsoft has a position of strength with desktop application developers, what’s Sun’s position of strength? Easy: mobile.

Remember the cool cell phone speech to text app that I saw a couple of weeks ago? Written on Java. Or, how about Radar.net? Java. And there are plenty of other examples of really great Java apps on cell phones too.

Will this convince Steve Jobs to include JavaFX on the iPhone? That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?

Speaking of which it’s time to go see Jonathan Schwartz again. Interesting how his blog post about today’s announcements includes something that looks a lot like an iPhone, huh?

43 thoughts on “Sun comes up with JavaFX in RIA battle

  1. That s where things get interesting, in mobile terms Ms got the upper hand very easily if they do make it cross platform.

    i just saw 3 mobile web apps done in silverlight and i must say that it is pretty impresive stuff even for low-powered phones, what can we expect for the new more powerful phones with it. in the mobile market, it will be a battle of compact .net framework/silverlight vs javafx. something interesting to watch indeed.

  2. That s where things get interesting, in mobile terms Ms got the upper hand very easily if they do make it cross platform.

    i just saw 3 mobile web apps done in silverlight and i must say that it is pretty impresive stuff even for low-powered phones, what can we expect for the new more powerful phones with it. in the mobile market, it will be a battle of compact .net framework/silverlight vs javafx. something interesting to watch indeed.

  3. @14

    Java applets can access the DOM. In fact, any OBJECT/EMBED (ActiveX/Netscape plugin) object can access the DOM. This stuff has been available pretty much since HTML exists.

    As for why is Sun joining the fray, the answer is that they want to be part of the answer. Remember it’s Sun who came up with Java “write once, run everywhere”. That should ring a bell. You should not be questioning Sun motive here, it’s legitimate, since they were at the time the true innovators. Microsoft and now Adobe/Macr are simply followers.

    It appears that, comparing recent announcements with what was available 12 years ago, there is the inclusion of design-time tools. So same platform, but not directly targeted to devs anymore.

  4. @14

    Java applets can access the DOM. In fact, any OBJECT/EMBED (ActiveX/Netscape plugin) object can access the DOM. This stuff has been available pretty much since HTML exists.

    As for why is Sun joining the fray, the answer is that they want to be part of the answer. Remember it’s Sun who came up with Java “write once, run everywhere”. That should ring a bell. You should not be questioning Sun motive here, it’s legitimate, since they were at the time the true innovators. Microsoft and now Adobe/Macr are simply followers.

    It appears that, comparing recent announcements with what was available 12 years ago, there is the inclusion of design-time tools. So same platform, but not directly targeted to devs anymore.

  5. I, like many here, wear two hats: developer and CEO. I have to say that, in the case of RIA, Adobe Flex/Apollo wins hands down regardless of the hat I’m wearing.

    Right now, I’m launching a new start up around a software product I’m developing. Originally, I was going to build the entire thing out in Java because I know Java pretty well. But after nearly a month of coding, design, redesign, etc, in Java I quickly began looking for something better.

    That something better kept calling to me from the halls of Adobe and its name was Flex. Bear in mind that I have *never* used Flash/Flex before in my life and, within a week, I was doing the most amazing things and building out my application at a much faster rate than I was in Java. This was happening in spite of me having to *learn* the language and technology from the ground up. I was immediately productive.

    Java just makes you do too much work for too little reward and I think that is what rules it out for a lot of small to mid-sized development teams.

    I will admit, I’ve never used Silverlight. It looks promising and I do plan to look at it once we launch. But, right now, Flex/Apollo/Flash are my platform of choice.

  6. I, like many here, wear two hats: developer and CEO. I have to say that, in the case of RIA, Adobe Flex/Apollo wins hands down regardless of the hat I’m wearing.

    Right now, I’m launching a new start up around a software product I’m developing. Originally, I was going to build the entire thing out in Java because I know Java pretty well. But after nearly a month of coding, design, redesign, etc, in Java I quickly began looking for something better.

    That something better kept calling to me from the halls of Adobe and its name was Flex. Bear in mind that I have *never* used Flash/Flex before in my life and, within a week, I was doing the most amazing things and building out my application at a much faster rate than I was in Java. This was happening in spite of me having to *learn* the language and technology from the ground up. I was immediately productive.

    Java just makes you do too much work for too little reward and I think that is what rules it out for a lot of small to mid-sized development teams.

    I will admit, I’ve never used Silverlight. It looks promising and I do plan to look at it once we launch. But, right now, Flex/Apollo/Flash are my platform of choice.

  7. After having watched the session, there’s was one thing that struck me, it was the remark where I believe Jonathan Schwartz said “and blue ray player”.

    Why it struck me? Java is in a lot of devices and runs on a lot of platforms. One group of people that might be especially happy are those working with embedded systems. They will benefit because they will be able to build nicer UI’s with less effort. The fact that they where able to show it on a phone and on the nokia N800 I found encouraging and they seem to have a definite here over Microsoft and Adobe because of the ubiquity of java on mobile devices.

    Sun announced they would be releasing designer tools, but to be honest I have to agree with Robert, they should do this one together with Adobe.

  8. After having watched the session, there’s was one thing that struck me, it was the remark where I believe Jonathan Schwartz said “and blue ray player”.

    Why it struck me? Java is in a lot of devices and runs on a lot of platforms. One group of people that might be especially happy are those working with embedded systems. They will benefit because they will be able to build nicer UI’s with less effort. The fact that they where able to show it on a phone and on the nokia N800 I found encouraging and they seem to have a definite here over Microsoft and Adobe because of the ubiquity of java on mobile devices.

    Sun announced they would be releasing designer tools, but to be honest I have to agree with Robert, they should do this one together with Adobe.

  9. To revisit Scoble’s question – “Will this convince Steve Jobs to include JavaFX on the iPhone?”

    It’s a lot more interesting a question than PXLated’s comment would have you believe. Steve Jobs’s comments on Java have been widely taken out of context – he was talking about the Java plug-in for Safari on iPhone.

    In fact, after iPhone was announced, I was told that Apple hadn’t at that time made any final decisions on Java support for the iPhone platform (embedded Mac OS X). One of the key decisions they were supposedly considering was whether to go for Java ME or Java SE; Java SE being a core part of Mac OS X.

    So, in relation to Scoble’s question – if Apple decided to go for support of Java SE in the iPhone platform, they would actually get JavaFX support for free, without any extra work needed to implement it. This would make iPhone the world’s most advanced Java-enabled mobile phone.

    Of course, in the end, Apple may or may not decide to support Java on iPhone at some point. Whether or not the first iPhone gets Java may be as much a matter of Apple being resource-constrained as it is about anything else…

  10. To revisit Scoble’s question – “Will this convince Steve Jobs to include JavaFX on the iPhone?”

    It’s a lot more interesting a question than PXLated’s comment would have you believe. Steve Jobs’s comments on Java have been widely taken out of context – he was talking about the Java plug-in for Safari on iPhone.

    In fact, after iPhone was announced, I was told that Apple hadn’t at that time made any final decisions on Java support for the iPhone platform (embedded Mac OS X). One of the key decisions they were supposedly considering was whether to go for Java ME or Java SE; Java SE being a core part of Mac OS X.

    So, in relation to Scoble’s question – if Apple decided to go for support of Java SE in the iPhone platform, they would actually get JavaFX support for free, without any extra work needed to implement it. This would make iPhone the world’s most advanced Java-enabled mobile phone.

    Of course, in the end, Apple may or may not decide to support Java on iPhone at some point. Whether or not the first iPhone gets Java may be as much a matter of Apple being resource-constrained as it is about anything else…

  11. “Silverlight was a rehash of Java applets (12 years ago). JavaFX is a rebranding of Java applets.”

    I don’t think java applets had access to the browser DOM, which by iteself is a very powerful feature of Silverlight (and I assume Flash/Flex) Couple that with the pathetic performance and user experience of applets back in the day.

    In any case, if these technologies are just rehashes of java applets, doesn’t it make you wonder why Sun went to the trouble of coming up with a new framework?

  12. “Silverlight was a rehash of Java applets (12 years ago). JavaFX is a rebranding of Java applets.”

    I don’t think java applets had access to the browser DOM, which by iteself is a very powerful feature of Silverlight (and I assume Flash/Flex) Couple that with the pathetic performance and user experience of applets back in the day.

    In any case, if these technologies are just rehashes of java applets, doesn’t it make you wonder why Sun went to the trouble of coming up with a new framework?

  13. John (#7) has a good point and it answers part of why Jobs won’t do Java. Besides wanting to avoid crashing the phone, Apple wants a consistant look/feel/interface and Java has never had that, nor has Flash. Every app is a free for all and a totally new learning experience for the user.

  14. John (#7) has a good point and it answers part of why Jobs won’t do Java. Besides wanting to avoid crashing the phone, Apple wants a consistant look/feel/interface and Java has never had that, nor has Flash. Every app is a free for all and a totally new learning experience for the user.

  15. Java works on ARM linux and is a super language to use for embedded devices. I think this announcement is great.

    Especially for us Motorolla users.

  16. Java works on ARM linux and is a super language to use for embedded devices. I think this announcement is great.

    Especially for us Motorolla users.

  17. @8

    Microsoft needs Expression right now (whether it be for developers, UI designers or graphics designers) because it has no other released XAML design tools at all right now and no timeline to release them.

    I do agree that graphic designers don’t necessarily make good UI designers, though some of that is due to them not be constrained by their tool – the use of a tool that natively produces what developers can build, is a good idea in that sense. I still there’s be a lot of “why can’t we do this”… or hacks to try and get things a certain way. I’m not not convinced that great new UIs will not break the UI consistency that has developed in mainstream Windows apps.

  18. @8

    Microsoft needs Expression right now (whether it be for developers, UI designers or graphics designers) because it has no other released XAML design tools at all right now and no timeline to release them.

    I do agree that graphic designers don’t necessarily make good UI designers, though some of that is due to them not be constrained by their tool – the use of a tool that natively produces what developers can build, is a good idea in that sense. I still there’s be a lot of “why can’t we do this”… or hacks to try and get things a certain way. I’m not not convinced that great new UIs will not break the UI consistency that has developed in mainstream Windows apps.

  19. Silverlight was a rehash of Java applets (12 years ago). JavaFX is a rebranding of Java applets. I’d rather see large vendors innovate with something NEW in their lifetime.

    Also, by giving away this stuff from free, I wonder what kind of message it sends to smaller vendors competing in this space. I get the “developer platform” means “join or die” for the bulk of small vendors.

  20. Sun has also a strong following in the growing Open Source movement. Java being GPLed, I can see many FLOSS developers choosing Sun’s products – and with good reason.

  21. Silverlight was a rehash of Java applets (12 years ago). JavaFX is a rebranding of Java applets. I’d rather see large vendors innovate with something NEW in their lifetime.

    Also, by giving away this stuff from free, I wonder what kind of message it sends to smaller vendors competing in this space. I get the “developer platform” means “join or die” for the bulk of small vendors.

  22. Sun has also a strong following in the growing Open Source movement. Java being GPLed, I can see many FLOSS developers choosing Sun’s products – and with good reason.

  23. It’s interesting. I’m not sure I buy this whole “designerdeveloper workflow” idea as a way of building compelling user interfaces. I get the impression that people are conflating two fields: user interface design; and graphic design. And, these are not the same thing at all.

    Now, I’m not saying that developers have a good understanding of the principles of good user interface design. On the whole, they don’t. What I am saying, however, is that graphic designers have an even worse understanding of user interface design than developers do.

    Bottom line: I’m really not sure how much deep designer integration really matters in terms of overall productivity in a project.

  24. It’s interesting. I’m not sure I buy this whole “designerdeveloper workflow” idea as a way of building compelling user interfaces. I get the impression that people are conflating two fields: user interface design; and graphic design. And, these are not the same thing at all.

    Now, I’m not saying that developers have a good understanding of the principles of good user interface design. On the whole, they don’t. What I am saying, however, is that graphic designers have an even worse understanding of user interface design than developers do.

    Bottom line: I’m really not sure how much deep designer integration really matters in terms of overall productivity in a project.

  25. Can Jonathan Schwartz unconditionally guarantee that it will be impossible for any third party application, to ever, under any circumstances, stop the phone from being able to send and receive calls?

    This is not worst-case-ism. This is a problem I see regularly with all WM devices and Treos. I see Razrs that lock up and have to be reset. On both of my WM phones, the 2003se one that is mine, and the WM 5 one that my job issued, I see third party applications that force me to reset my phone to be able to receive a phone call.

    Hell, I see that happen on my 2003se phone with the stuff from Microsoft. All I have to do is make enough calls in a short period of time, and I have to either bounce the radio stack or the entire phone to make a friggin’ phone call.

    Completely open third party development is nice, but not when it turns your device into a brick.

  26. Can Jonathan Schwartz unconditionally guarantee that it will be impossible for any third party application, to ever, under any circumstances, stop the phone from being able to send and receive calls?

    This is not worst-case-ism. This is a problem I see regularly with all WM devices and Treos. I see Razrs that lock up and have to be reset. On both of my WM phones, the 2003se one that is mine, and the WM 5 one that my job issued, I see third party applications that force me to reset my phone to be able to receive a phone call.

    Hell, I see that happen on my 2003se phone with the stuff from Microsoft. All I have to do is make enough calls in a short period of time, and I have to either bounce the radio stack or the entire phone to make a friggin’ phone call.

    Completely open third party development is nice, but not when it turns your device into a brick.

  27. Mike: which is why if I worked at Sun I’d be making big deals with you folks at Adobe. I’d do whatever it takes to link Java and Flex together. It’d be smart for Adobe too, cause Microsoft sure did get lots of Flash and Flex types hot and bothered with Silverlight. Coming back with a Java/Apollo/Flex punch would be a punch that lands hard.

  28. Mike: which is why if I worked at Sun I’d be making big deals with you folks at Adobe. I’d do whatever it takes to link Java and Flex together. It’d be smart for Adobe too, cause Microsoft sure did get lots of Flash and Flex types hot and bothered with Silverlight. Coming back with a Java/Apollo/Flex punch would be a punch that lands hard.

  29. Unlike Microsoft’s offering, this is missing the integration with designers. I think that’s a big hole in the announcements today, unless they’ve got something else up their sleeve.

    Without the designer integration, I don’t see how these applications will be much different than the existing Java applications that are out there already (apart from the fact that they’re easier to build now.)

    Mike

  30. Unlike Microsoft’s offering, this is missing the integration with designers. I think that’s a big hole in the announcements today, unless they’ve got something else up their sleeve.

    Without the designer integration, I don’t see how these applications will be much different than the existing Java applications that are out there already (apart from the fact that they’re easier to build now.)

    Mike

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  32. One of the interesting things about JavaFX is the scripting language. This will make it much easier for many people to create the user interfaces they want.

    The point is Java Swing is arguably the most powerful graphical user interface toolkit in the world. There’s pretty much no limit to what you can do. However, there’s no denying you have to be a “top talent” developer to really take advantage; and even if you’re up to the job, it can be a lot of lines of code (i.e. it can be unproductive). JavaFX will make it much easier and quicker for developers to access the power of Swing. Or, to put it another way – JavaFX levels the playing field in terms of making it quick to develop “Flash-like” interfaces (for want of a better term).

  33. One of the interesting things about JavaFX is the scripting language. This will make it much easier for many people to create the user interfaces they want.

    The point is Java Swing is arguably the most powerful graphical user interface toolkit in the world. There’s pretty much no limit to what you can do. However, there’s no denying you have to be a “top talent” developer to really take advantage; and even if you’re up to the job, it can be a lot of lines of code (i.e. it can be unproductive). JavaFX will make it much easier and quicker for developers to access the power of Swing. Or, to put it another way – JavaFX levels the playing field in terms of making it quick to develop “Flash-like” interfaces (for want of a better term).

  34. Just to pick up on Colin’s comment, we actually tried very hard to use Java on the handsets but the security and limitations of Java stopped us being able to integrate our technology at a deep enough level. For example, the software could only be launched by the user (we needed it to auto-launch when the phone booted), there was no way to get Java to detect OS shell events such as theme changes, in many cases the softare could not be run in the background and handling of basic phone events such as inbound SMS and phonecalls also caused many problems trying to pause and resume animations.

    We cam to the conclusion that Java was probably very good for writing full screen applications such as games but not very good for applications that did not require user interaction. Shame really as we could have rolled out our content to many more handsets otherwise.

    Jim

  35. Just to pick up on Colin’s comment, we actually tried very hard to use Java on the handsets but the security and limitations of Java stopped us being able to integrate our technology at a deep enough level. For example, the software could only be launched by the user (we needed it to auto-launch when the phone booted), there was no way to get Java to detect OS shell events such as theme changes, in many cases the softare could not be run in the background and handling of basic phone events such as inbound SMS and phonecalls also caused many problems trying to pause and resume animations.

    We cam to the conclusion that Java was probably very good for writing full screen applications such as games but not very good for applications that did not require user interaction. Shame really as we could have rolled out our content to many more handsets otherwise.

    Jim

  36. I’d say that other than on mobile phones (for now), Java is under serious threat. Not having it on the iphone is kind of a major shun really. Knowing the guys at http://www.phonethemes.com for example, I know that their work on animated phone themes for Windows Mobile and Symbian Series 40 and 60 phones uses OS APIs from C++, rather than Java.

    The problem is that Java is so platform-independent-orientated that it doesn’t have the deep integration necessary even for graphics.

    Silverlight/Flash make for much richer applications. If Microsoft delivers with Silverlight on Symbian, that may start to seal Java’s fate. Btw, Silverlight really should go on the Zune.

  37. I’d say that other than on mobile phones (for now), Java is under serious threat. Not having it on the iphone is kind of a major shun really. Knowing the guys at http://www.phonethemes.com for example, I know that their work on animated phone themes for Windows Mobile and Symbian Series 40 and 60 phones uses OS APIs from C++, rather than Java.

    The problem is that Java is so platform-independent-orientated that it doesn’t have the deep integration necessary even for graphics.

    Silverlight/Flash make for much richer applications. If Microsoft delivers with Silverlight on Symbian, that may start to seal Java’s fate. Btw, Silverlight really should go on the Zune.

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