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Can JavaFX Desktop Save Java?

Posted by Charles | November 15, 2008 .

My post about ZK ignited some good talks about JavaFX and its position in RIA. One comment by Martin B. raised my curiosity level:

I think you are missing the point of what JavaFX is actually capable of delivering. While the ZK looks nice, it is nothing exceptional and (sorry for that) produces rather mediocre UI experience. I think you will be (positively) surprised next month.

So what’s up with JavaFX next month? I think it’s the long talked JavaFX Desktop. There have been talks or leaks here or there about how JavaFX will be invading desktop (again). I just don’t get it. Java has lost desktop (or client side in general) so that Sun invents another odd language with set of tools to get it back? But if look closer to JavaFX then you’d realize that it’s not really for the types of application developments we have in mind. It’s for designers and media people to do thing they are doing with Flash. For that matter, it immediately falls behind Silverlight which is way behind Flash. Then, who the heck would switch to use literally a third class tool!

So, JavaFX won’t save Java at the client side, because it has nothing to do with it (well, at the surface). I wouldn’t expect the huge Java developer base will fuel the JavaFX invading either. They would rather see Sun does something remarkable to Java itself. Besides, with 5000 good people let-go from Sun, I doubt the JavaFX release (if even have one) next month will generate too much of spark, let alone put a dent anywhere measurable to Flex or Adobe AIR or Silverlight.

I still believe the ZK way is the best way out (or in) for Sun client side strategy. It strengthens Java’s strong hold at server side (or more justifies it) and use Java as the engine to drive a lightweight proven UI technology. If further simplifying the usage of Sun’s MySQL within this strategy, along with its open source approach, Sun could well be back to the game again. Playing its strength is the only way to get both Microsoft and Adobe concerned. We and they have to admit that nobody in the industry has the resource and proven (to be perfection) methodology to success  and win in direct mimicking/following/beating other’s strength, except Microsoft.

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6 Comments so far
  1. robbiecheng  November 16, 2008 5:49 pm
  2. GeekyCoder  November 17, 2008 7:09 am

    I still find it to be convinced that ZK is the one-size-fit-it-all replacement for JavaFX. ZK is cool but isn’t it limits to what a web HTML+Javascript application can do ? Can ZK completely replace JavaFX ? In what area ? I think JavaFX is not just about creating cool interactive interface, it is about also creating impressive high performance graphics and multimedia application with or without internet. ZK could use Flash and it can also use JavaFX just as well. Hence I do not think JavaFX is a direct competitor to ZK rather it complements ZK the same way Flash complements ZK.

    A lot of developers question why Sun needs to develop JavaFX. From I see in this industry, it is a matter of long term strategy to compete in the application development platform, be it internet, mobile or traditional desktop application. Ignoring the growing trend of RIA market means that one day other RIA competitors will mature and grow to threaten the Java’s turf like the application server, mobile solution. The RIA competitors are definitely not standing still and have expanded their market from web to desktop, and eventually to mobile. For instance, Flex allows a Flash/Flex application to run not only in webpage but only as traditional desktop application using Adobe AIR. Silverlight will subsequently have a desktop component to extend its functionality and usage. There may some functions that ZK and RIA solutions like JavaFX overlapped otherwise they are created for different purposes and needs. ZK also utilize a different programming model that is more web-centric server framework compare to traditional desktop application programming model approach taken by JavaFX, Flex.

    Perhaps ZK will have more success marketing how it can offer Desktop-application functionality using web browser easily and how it can integrate with RIA solution to offset its shortcoming rather than lambasting Sun over JavaFX. It doesn’t really serve any purpose because JavaFX will be here to stay anyway. If Sun really want to acquire ZK, it will likely do so if ZK can leverage on existing investment of its asset like JavaFX.

    I think that ZK’s main competitors are GWT, Wicket and other web frameworks with their own unique GUI generation capability.

    Having saying that and trying out ZK, I really wish ZK success because it is really a impressive and unique piece of technology.

  3. Moxie  November 17, 2008 10:19 am

    @geekycoder I agree with most of your points. ZK could be something for Sun but it’s not in the league of RIA technologies such as Adobe Flex and AIR, not even Silverlight. However, if Sun started with something more useful it could evolve it into the league. I don’t see the chance for JavaFX. It’s a interesting point that ZK vs GWT. There is tight integration already between GWT and ex-js. Indeed, they are on the same route. If google seriously push GWT harder, ZK should be worried. Seems google doesn’t, though.

  4. David Herron  November 17, 2008 12:57 pm

    JavaFX is for multiplatform clients, and you are right that with JavaFX we’re targeting the kind of apps developed in Flash today. However there are some technical advantages JavaFX brings such as direct use of the wide range of Java-based libraries. Right now I’m writing a toy blog aggregator using the Rome library that abstracts out the nitpicky details of all the various RSS/RDS/Atom feed formats. Another technical advantage is the superior world-class VM technology that is Hotspot. But you could very well be right that we’re very far behind the mindshare of Flash etc and how can we possibly catch up. It’s not about the quality of the technology but other things. Only time will tell on that one…

  5. David Herron  November 17, 2008 12:59 pm

    Ooh, I just noticed I missed explaining ‘multiplatform clients’. The catchphrase is “JavaFX is for all the screens of your life” (or something like that). It’s not just for desktop computers it’s also targeted at cell phones and other non-desktop-computer devices (such as TV settop boxes).

  6. Charles  November 17, 2008 1:13 pm

    @Dave
    I think the “multiplatform client” aspect of JavaFX is something I missed mentioning it. Good point.

    JavaME has already had big presence on mobile devices, especially for games development, and especially even Google and Yahoo are heavily using it. That’s the area that JavaFX can have a big leap ahead of Flash or Silverlight. Flash has been struggling with Flash Lite and Flash Lite is not even in ActionScript 3 and is not really Flash. Silverlight will make it to Microsoft Mobile but they are still in signing all sorts of deals phases with others. If Sun does it right, JavaFX can be a very strong mobile RIA solution.

    BTW, I want to make it clear I and Flex888 have no affiliation with ZK what’s so ever. So, ahead with more of these healthy discussion we are enjoying.

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