JavaFX is an alternative to using plug-ins such as Silverlight or Flash and the new version is a big improvement. But is it too little, too late?
JavaFX is a good idea - using Java to provide a Rich Internet Application environment. It is a good idea because it is supported by nearly every reasonable browser and it doesn't make use of a plug-in. However Sun was slow to spot the market niche and slow to develop the idea. Oracle (which recently took over Sun and the helm of Java) regards JavaFX as one of its most profitable assets - potentially profitable that is.
JavaFX applications are built using Java and a scripting language, JavaFX Script. JavaFX Script can be written in a declarative style that looks like XAML or MXML or in a procedural object-oriented style. User interfaces are constructed by instantiating and initialising Java objects.
Applications are compiled to bytecode hence they can run on anything that supports a Java VM and Java Runtime Environment (JRE). This not only includes most web browsers but mobile phones and other devices running Java ME.
Now we have the first Oracle release of JavaFX 1.3 and it contains a lot of new things for a decimal point upgrade:
- New and enhanced support for UI controls, CSS skinning, and programmatic layout
- Performance improvements in the JavaFX Runtime
- New NetBeans IDE 6.9 Beta with improved editing and an updated JavaFX Composer plug-in
- New features and enhanced performance in JavaFX Production Suite
- A native JavaFX font family called Amble
- Support for the development of TV applications, including a new TV emulator
- Availability of the mobile emulator on the Mac platform
Version 1.3 has substantially upgraded nine UI controls and includes previews for an additional eight controls. All controls have been re-written to make use of CSS and to deliver performance improvements. For example, a 1.3 application with 200 controls uses 50-80% less memory, starts nearly twice as quickly, and runs 50% faster (comparisons are with 1.2 and are from Oracle) .
JavaFX represents an attractive alternative to plug-ins such as Silverlight and Flash but given the prospect that HTML 5 may make RIAs possible without any additional technology it might be too late for JavaFX to catchup.
The JavaFX SDK is free to download from: JavaFX