Sun aims JavaFX at RIA crowd

SAN FRANCISCO — Facilitating global communication via the “unstoppable force” that is the mobile network, is the driver behind a series of Java-based products launched by Sun Microsystems Inc. at its JavaOne conference on Tuesday.

Executive vice-president Rich Green announced JavaFX, based on the Standard Java SE platform, which is designed to help develop rich Internet applications (RIAs) for mobile devices and desktops.

“We want to take the reach that Java has, and add a new level of technology and value, a new level of focus on consumers, media, and productivity for individuals around the world,” said Green.

The first product in the series, JavaFX Mobile, is a software system for mobile devices available via OEM licence to carriers, content owners and consumer electronics manufacturers.

Green also introduced JavaFX Script, a scripting language targeted at content developers who want to create rich media and interactive content.

“It’s all about bringing very rich graphical experiences for end-user interfaces,” said Java creator James Gosling, chief technology officer and vice-president at Sun Microsystems.

Sun is not alone in offering software to create RIAs. Adobe recently announced it would open source is Flex framework and launched an early version of Apollo, which will create RIAs that work offline as well as on. Microsoft, meanwhile, recently launched Silverlight, a cross-browser plug-in to support rich media. Other developers have already standardized their development efforts around asynchronous Java and XML, an approach known as AJAX.

Ron Rogowski, an analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, said there’s value in RIAs beyond the consumer market.

“It’s no different than anything else you would build, they just happen to sit within a Web experience.You’re building it with something in mind,” he said. “You’re not just out to make the greatest experience. Custom experience matters, but you’re doing it because there’s a business benefit.”

 “Technology is the means – the vehicle to accelerate the rate, the richness, the value that allows people to communicate,” said Green.

Historically, he said, there have been boundaries around the world to communication: geographic, physical, language, government that minimized peoples’ ability to connect.

Those barriers are falling, said Green: half a billion people joined the network last year via GSM technology (Global System for Mobile Communications) versus 130 million who joined the network using conventional PCs or laptops.

Further to Sun’s announcement last November that it would eventually open source its Java technology, Green announced during his keynote, that task to be finally complete: OpenJDK is now available to the open source community.

“There is more to open source than the source. It’s all about community development,” said Green, before introducing the governing body that will oversee the open source community.

The Interim Governing Board, he said, will create standards and hold elections for how the open source community will govern itself, “and thus, how the OpenJDK community will set its own direction.”

JavaFX software will also be available to the open source community through GNU General Public License (GPL) license.

Along with opening up the code to the developer community, Green also announced that Java TCK (Technology Compatibility Kit), would be made available to ensure technology developed on OpenJDK will remain compatible.

JavaOne 2007 continues on Wednesday.

— with files from Shane Schick

Comment: [email protected]

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