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Sun says JavaFX to take on AJAX, Silverlight

Sun says JavaFX to take on AJAX, Silverlight

Sun has a plan that could make Java a formidable player in the scripting language space.

At the JavaOne conference in San Francisco, Sun rolled out a Java-based product family called JavaFX, which covers Java development from the desktop to the web to mobile devices. It features a new scripting variant of the Java, called JavaFX Script. JavaFX is a line of products focused on opportunities in the consumer communications market, including desktops, mobile clients, and TVs. The first product release is JavaFX Mobile, a software system for mobile devices.

"JavaFX is a complete software system from the metal on up," says Rich Green, Sun executive vice president of software.

JavaFX Script centres on content creation and leverages the high-volume distribution of Java, Green says. "JavaFX Script is a scripting language focused on the content-authoring and content creation crowd. 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) all the way down to mobile devices powered by JavaFX Mobile."

While most scripting languages are oriented to building out web pages, JavaFX Script focuses on user experiences on the interface and particularly on things that are highly animated, Green said.

"It's not a procedural language in the usual sense," said Green. "It's much easier to use."

JavaFX Script leverages 2D graphics APIs in the Swing GUI toolkit.

JavaFX will be open sourced. "We plan to open-source all of JavaFX as we work through the program," said Green. Plans call for eventually offering a line of developer tools to work with JavaFX with a basic, introductory tool to be offered on Tuesday, Green said.

Expanding Java deployments is a natural goal of the JavaFX platform.

Sun officials acknowledged that JavaFX bears a similarity to enhanced graphics capabilities offered in the new Microsoft platform. But Gosling added that Silverlight differs in that it is mostly focused on video-streaming.

Formerly referred to by the codename, F3, the JavaFX platform could draw attention from AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) programmers. AJAX has grown as a popular technique for building Web pages.

While the Java Mobile Edition (ME) platform has focused on a reduced set of functionality for mobile devices compared to Java SE, JavaFX brings core Java SE capabilities down to mobile devices, said Green.

Sun officials cautioned that the current release of JavaFX is only an early, alpha release. No date has been set for a general release.

JavaFX differs from Sun's Project Flair, which also proposes an alternative to AJAX, in that Flair is based on JavaScript but JavaFX is not.


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