Flash Killers – Java FX, Microsoft Silverlight, Groovy and Xoetrope

It wasn’t meant to be this way, but I spent most of the IJTC talking to people about Flash Killers. Technologies that look good, work in any browser and are powerful enough to deliver enterprise applications with no installation.

  • Dejan Bosanac, was speaking on Scripting in the JVM. He was kind enough to give me a copy of his book which (for the first time) has got me seriously considering Groovy. Maybe I’m about 3 years behind everybody else on this , but I get there in the end! Dejan’s book (Scripting in Java: Languages, Frameworks, and Patterns) is available on Safari
  • Guillaume Laforge talking on Groovy completed what Dejan had begun. Ironically, I didn’t see the talk , but it was the reaction of the people that did that got me interested.
  • Xoetrope (an Irish Open Source company sponsoring the conference) was demonstrating the XUI framework. Initially I thought that the world did not need another Java presentation framework. What changed my mind is that this has two edges – the first is the IDE – a plugin for either Eclipse or Netbeans , similar in drag and drop style to Visual Basic but generating clean XML Files. The second is that you can deploy on the Desktop (as either SWT or AWT/Swing), or as JSP / HTML. You can download XUI (and IDE plugins) from sourceforge.
  • Richard Bair from Sun were talking about Swing and Java FX (more below). Sun is threating to deliver on the intial promise of Java Applets (Write once, deploy anywhere).
  • Strange for a Java event, but Microsoft was giving out disks containing Silverlight – a time limited Visual Studio Professional with Expression Studio (inc Web / Design / Blend / Media).

(I’m still too traumatised by James Strachan and his Corba coloured underpants to talk about Apache Camel. And that was before Mark Proctor and Emmanuel Bernard starting talking about the size of their …. audiences 🙂

None of the above technologies really solve what I’m looking for; Ideally we’d have a version of Flash (that almost everybody has installed / designers know how to make look good) with Java embedded in it (we need the processing power of the client). Think modern version of Java Applets. Realistically we’ll have to go for 2nd best as such a thing doesn’t exist.

More on the Java FX Stuff: James Weaver of the JavaFX blog was good enough to talk through these requirements. I came across James blog after reading his book (cover below). While the book covers Java FX and FX alone (but does it well), I’ve been promised a blogpost on deploying a JavaFX Script via Webstart. With that, and if Sun makes good their promises on consumer usability in the next version of Java, then maybe we have a Flash Killer. While Sun has dropped the ball in the past (note that it was Microsoft and not Sun handing out CD’s) the response times for the FX team for a casual query about Webstart (which is not their area) gives me some hope.
JavaFx Book Cover

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4 comments

  1. Michael Neale · November 13, 2007

    I hope Sun get it right with JavaFX, the little things matter a lot. I fear they won’t though. They view GUI as a “detail”.

  2. John McClean · November 13, 2007

    Just as a matter of interest, why do you dislike Flash? Seeing as it’s in place already – is it broken beyond repair? Or do you think a bit of pressure might get support for the features you need? Take a look at this flash app, which I think demos that you can produce some nice apps : http://splashup.com/ . Also I remember seeing a half-life style game that looked pretty good…

    Groovy was the big story of IJTC, lots of people really excited by it. Heard good reports of your talk as well (although to my shame, I slept in, sorry 😦 )..

  3. admin · November 13, 2007

    @Michael: One of the conference organisers had an ‘off the record’ talk with the Sun guys and he was impressed. Not impressed enough to spill the details, but I guess time will tell.

    @ John

    What?! You missed the Lego people and the blatent attempt to flog my car 🙂

    I like flash. No really I do. I bought the Open Laszlo book. I have Flex installed on my Laptop. I even did a bit of Flash work for my last client but one.

    It’s just it doesn’t cut it for my latest plans at world domination. But there again, neither do a lot of the Java-only presentation frameworks.

    Paul

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