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back to article Sun's JavaFX must toolup against Adobe - pronto

Sun Microsystems lost the first Rich Internet Application (RIA) war when Macromedia (now part of Adobe) ate its applets for lunch following a schoolyard brawl. Now Sun has a second chance. But, to succeed in such an unforgiving market, Sun needs something special. A mature, powerful platform, a buzzing community, some seriously …

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Thanks for this article, Matt

Matt,

I appreciate the spirit in which this article was written, and share your sense of urgency. By the way, the demo the "just looks a bit nasty":

http://learnjavafx.typepad.com/weblog/2007/10/now-that-youve-.html

is a very basic example of binding in JavaFX Script. The "Watch for Falling Blocks: Take TetrisJFX for a Spin post":

http://learnjavafx.typepad.com/weblog/2008/05/watch-for-falli.html

contains a Tetris example that is meant to look more appealing.

Thanks again,

Jim Weaver

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excellent Java2D?!

I think one needs a lot of imagination to state that Java2D is excellent. The typical java zealot may be pleased by Java2D API, which are over-engineered as everything else. Take the Image/BufferedImage, for example: lots of classes and the performance still sucks. The only way to have decent graphics performance in Java is using jogl, which cuts out all the unnecessary bloat in Java2D.

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Anonymous Coward

GOD, NO, PLEASE NOT MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR RIA CRAP!

"You'd want someone's first experience with a "Hello World!" application to blow their socks off visually, not make them recoil."

No, Matt Stephens, I want a working web site that gives me info that I need and does not overload my browser with non-standard excrescences produced by "...people with an eye for visual design" (and no understanding that a web site has a purpose beyond looking pretty and permitting the someone some design willy-waving) and thereby exposes my machine to security problems. Where does security figure in your scheme?

I'm sick of articles like this that promote stupid, witless, incompetent designs. I'm sick of web designers that haven't a bloody clue. I'm sick of turning off jscript/flash/bloody everything in firefox just to have sites fail to render, which would work if they'd been written with a trace of common sense. I'm sick of having to put up with crap pushed by people like you.

Some sites/apps need RIA. Very few.

Ach, hell. You'll come back with some content about Content Is King, but will you change? Do you care? Did you read last week's Verity Stob, because it was damn well aimed at exactly this problem.

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Dead Vulture

JavaFX? What's that?

There is a major brawl coming: between Silverlight and Flash/ Flex/ AIR. JaxaFX might snap at the ankles of these two combatants like some demented hamster, but it is more likely to be crushed underfoot, than be noticed and considered a worthy opponent.

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Unhappy

nice JavaFX examples

nice JavaFX examples - http://molgav.nn.ru/surikov/files/jfx/JFXNote.html

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@GOD, NO

Unfortunately, the people who actually pay for websites don't share your perspective. It's not the author's fault that customers want rich, flashy, sexy web pages for their businesses (a few of them actually want content too, although that request is more rare...) The truth is that once average joe saw what you could do once you stepped out of the bounds of standardized markup languages, everybody wanted it. And the people that said 'no, that's stupid' found themselves out of work.

As a programmer with absolutely no eye for visual design, I couldn't agree more that our jobs would suck a lot less if we all could do the front ends of our websites using only markup. But that's just not realistic given the average customer's demands. They want cool hover effects, they want animations, they want the page to never do a full refresh, they want autocomplete, they want drag n' drop, they want a full desktop app experience. And since doing all those things is not possible in a markup language, and a pain to do even with javascript, Adobe, Microsoft, and Sun are trying to make it easier on the average developer to keep up with customer demands without spending most of the time on the freakin' UI. And employers are willing to pay for those skills...Here in AZ a mediocre flex developer can easily get contracts for $65-$75 an hour, well above the rate for an experienced java or c# guy.

I'm sick and tired of dicking around with the clusterF#@K that is HTML, CSS, and Javascript, so I welcome the RIA technologies as a way to get the UI effects customers want while still maintaining a reasonably clean code base (as compared to javascript and HTML). And I appreciate articles like this one that keep me up to date on what the latest news is in this world without boring me to death.

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Anonymous Coward

@Jared

Thanks, and I take your points well made. I wasn't entirely fair on the article's author; it is as much or more those who commission these stupid fucking sites, but in any event it is a pox now and a means of lock-in in the long term. Big business fighting for their own benefit and damn what happens to the web, useful information, and usability.

I blame everyone: the designers, those who commission the sites, but I guess most of all the public that puts up with it.

As somebody who turns off just about anything in firefox except plain markup I get very frustrated with sites commissioned by, and signed off by, morons.

But that's just IT to the hilt, is it not.

Oh, I just rediscovered a lovely example I sent to a column writer who was on an RIA roll: <http://www.microsoft.com/communities/newsgroups/list/en-us/default.aspx?dg=microsoft.public.win32.programmer.networks&tid=0058f9f5-48d6-4aeb-969f-d414c9b6140d&p=1>

Load it with Jscript disabled and notice the flicker; it displays (or did when I originally found it) useful info, then removes it and displays a warning that I need to endable scripting - FFS!

It gave me the data (plain text) and then removed it! I know it's MS but in fact I've seen other sites do just as badly in quite remarkably novel ways.

Sorry for the rant, gents (& ladygents, if any).

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@AC

That's a winning example.

My favorite was when I worked as a web developer for a well-known computer magazine company. It was my first job out of college. Well they ran this article "reviewing" Opera. One of the criticisms (of Opera!) was that the menu on the magazine's own website didn't work. We got a letter from the coolest subscriber ever that had gone in and checked to see why it wouldn't render. He found a piece of javascript like this:

if (browser is opera)

return;

else

//render menu

Removing that piece of javascript was all that was required to make the site work fine in Opera. Even though I wasn't responsible for that particular piece of code, I was horrified.

Anyway, FWIW I think the trouble has three main root causes:

1. Some people like pretty colors and animations. Businesses are trying to attract those people.

2. Since no effort was made to ever standardize and improve javascript's serious design-time and run-time deficiencies, there is a market for flash-like technologies that compensate.

3. Companies are not willing to spend the money to have their sites render content gracefully when javascript/flash/whatever is turned off.

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CTG
Happy

Eclipse RCP

Or else you can skip all the RIA crap and give people a real desktop app built on Eclipse RCP. Already has plenty of tooling, even a (god-forbid) WYSIWYG editor if you are that way inclined. Deploy it using WebStart and off you go.

HTML was not designed for applications, end of story. No amount of retrofitting and JavaScript plastered over the top is going to change that.

And if you are really going to insist on RIA, then use Eclipse RAP (Rich Ajax Platform) - light years ahead of NetBeans.

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read more carefully before misleading your readers

Matt,

I'm guessing you didn't read my interview all that carefully as I was pretty clear about JavaFX's target audience:

"In terms of the general target audience, we obviously have to focus initially on meeting the needs of a specific community, which is the RIA crowd"

Since Adobe invented the "RIA" acronym (ugh), I'm not sure how this is "not a clear answer". ?

The reason I spoke in more detail about the JavaFX scripting language itself (which would be equivalent to speaking about the target audience for ActionScript3.0 vs. the Flash solution as a whole) is because the interview was speaking to Java developers who are currently questioning the purpose of inventing a new language for the VM. And, since we haven't yet released the designer tool (brownie points for you in pointing that out) we are constantly asked if we expect designers to author FX script by hand. Here was my explanation:

"Do we expect designers to code in it? Not any more than they currently code using JavaScript or ActionScript. Most of them will continue working visually with design tools, but if they had to make simple edits to JavaFX Script, that’s certainly doable"

There's no question that meeting designer's needs is at the center of all of this (and I think I made that pretty clear too). The proof that we get this will come when we release appropriate tool support. Fair enough.

And finally, if appealing also to developers isn't important, then why is Adobe trying so hard to woo them?

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Thumb Up

RIA vs. Desktop App?

I agree with CTG's comment that "HTML was not designed for applications, end of story" although I'm not sure that this precludes using the browser to display other forms of content.

AJAX and frameworks which work within the limitations of HTML and JavaScript are bound to create clumsy and ugly applications (at least from a code perspective). From what I can see, JavaFX (and Flex for that matter) pursue the cleaner option of using the browser as a vehicle to display rich content by adding to the capabilities of the browser (using the Java and Flash plug-ins respectively).

The concept of enhancing the browser to support complex user interfaces and asynchronous data access is something that I tried to encourage in an Open Source project called UIDL (http://www.uidl.net/) which actually pre-dates JavaFX. In any case, I think the approach of using a scripted version of Java for the front end is spot on, so I'm hoping that JavaFX is successful.

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JavaFX will surprise

We've been developing a large scale enterprise application that is relying on JavaFX to present the UI. Granted, FX is "young" but we are very pleased with the progress of the language and the tools so far.

There is a team of experienced and dedicated pro's at Sun and within the community creating something very special and most important, Sun's executive leadership is really behind the effort.

I think JavaFX is going surprise a lot of people.

Thom Theriault, CTO

Malden Labs

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