JavaFX Team Answer the Eager and the Skeptical

JavaFX Team Answer the Eager and the Skeptical

Conducting an interview via email can be very convenient. I can formulate my questions exactly the way I mean them (avoiding my propensity for rambling), and the interviewee has the time to compose thoughtful answers that address my specific questions (avoiding his/her propensity for rambling). Plus, I get the complete Q&A returned to me in “cut-and-pasteable” text: No tedious trawling through my digital recording to transcribe quotable answers or deciphering my hastily-written scrawl while trying to write as fast as the interviewee talked.

Like most modern conveniences though, email interviews have their downside too. Not only do they forfeit control over when I will receive answers to my questions, but more importantly, they take away an essential interviewer’s tool: the immediate follow-up question. Such was the case with this blog: An email Q&A with two members of the JavaFX team, JavaFX Chief Architect John Burkey and Senior Director of JavaFX Marketing Param Singh. The interview covers a variety of topics related to the recent JavaFX 1.0 release.

The interview wasn’t completed as close to the actual release date (early December 2008) as I would’ve liked—the holidays not withstanding—and a couple of the responses beg for follow-up questions. But that’s the price of convenience. I’ll let you be the judge:

Sun’s Zero-Sum Java Development:

DevX: With many Java developers clamoring for language features such as properties, closures, and data binding in Java 7 (not all of which will be included in that release) and fearing that Java is falling behind C# in terms of features, some view any development effort dedicated to JavaFX as resources diverted from core Java language development. How does the JavaFX team respond?

JavaFX Team: JavaFX is a series of technological initiatives, some of which just couldn’t [be] done on top of the existing Java frameworks. Specifically, the industry is moving towards animation, visual tools, and scripting, all around a core of a scene graph. People are excited when we talk about these things, from traditional Swing developers, to visual designers who have never considered working in Java.

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JRE and Applet User Interaction:

DevX: How does/will the JavaFX user experience (e.g., security dialogs, JWS downloading JNLP files, etc.) compete with that of Flash?

JavaFX Team: JavaFX is powered by Java, and hence leverages the underlying features and functionality of Java. For instance, JavaFX uses the robust and proven security model of Java. Consequently, JavaFX uses industry best practices for security for items such as cross-domain access and access to system resources.

DevX: If JavaFX is currently run as an applet in the browser, is there any way for a web developer to use JavaFX without placing applets on his or her web site?

JavaFX Team: No. Applets are just the standard container for doing JavaFX, managing the lifecycle of the JavaFX objects within the browser. However, we do have some nice features here, including bi-directional interaction with JavaScript, allowing very nice communication with the rest of the web site.

JavaFX Mobile:

DevX: Which mobile device manufacturers are the JavaFX team working with? If you can’t divulge that, which mobile platforms will developers be able to use JavaFX with starting in spring ’09 (announced release date for JavaFX runtime for mobile devices)?

JavaFX Team: Sun works with most of the major telecommunications carriers, operators, and OEMs with Java ME. Sun is working closely with these partners to bring JavaFX Mobile to market.

Sun will announce key partners around Mobile World Congress and will continue to roll out partners at other key events.

DevX: How soon do you plan to support JavaFX on Android?

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JavaFX Team: Sun is committed to delivering JavaFX Mobile runtime on a wide range of platforms (device/OS combinations) that our partners demand. Sun has demonstrated the potential to deliver JavaFX Mobile on Android at JavaOne 2008.

DevX: How will the JavaFX team address the issue of provisioning JavaFX applications to mobile devices?

JavaFX Team: [Through] a standard set of tools to allow developers to deploy to mobile devices, as well as emulate those devices on Desktop. Over the next few releases, expect these tools to get better and better.

DevX: What portions (if any) of JavaFX will be left out of JavaFX on mobile platforms?

JavaFX Team: You won’t be able to call the Desktop profile, which includes Swing-based API’s on Mobile, and in fact, we encourage you do stick to our “Common” architecture, which is a focused set of API’s enabling next-generation media and graphics, as well as effects and timeline-based animations.

Language Interaction and Web Service Support:

DevX: Besides Java, which other programming languages (or scripting languages) does JavaFX interact with and at what level?

JavaFX Team: There is a bi-directional JavaScript bridge, which allows deep access to our JavaFX API, or DOM. In addition, JavaFX is built on top of Java, and calls into any Java API in Java SE just as a Java applet would.

DevX: With JavaFX 1.0’s added web service support (calling RESTful web services and making asynchronous HTTP requests that return XML or JSON), is this how Sun recommends JavaFX clients communicate with server-side applications? Are there plans for additional web service support capabilities in the future?

JavaFX Team: We fully support RESTful web services and the web standards, but will continue bringing more capabilities to the platform. There are several things in play, enabling easier tie-in with more sophisticated web services.

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Open Source Roadmap and JavaFX Gadgets:

DevX: What’s open source today? What will be in the future? What (if anything) never will be open source?
JavaFX Team: Sun is committed to open source. Key parts of the JavaFX platform are in open source, including the JavaFX compiler.

DevX: Do you intend to release a set of JavaFX-based gadgets any time soon, or do you plan to leave it up to the community to develop them?

JavaFX Team: Yes, in addition to the great work already occurring in the community, we have a standard set of gadgets coming in the next several releases.

“Not Invented Here” Questions:

DevX: Instead of JavaFX Script, why not just adopt Groovy, which already had all the necessary language constructs and was quite mature?
JavaFX Team: JavaFX Script is designed specifically for doing visual scenes, and because it is a statically compiled language on top of a world-class virtual machine, it is quite a bit faster than Groovy, as well as being more expressive for visual scene construction.

DevX: What features in JavaFX couldn’t have been implemented directly to the Java language with some minor enhancements, such as Properties (with data binding) or the {} construct (like in Groovy) to cut down on the verbosity of the code?

JavaFX Team: JavaFX script is a scripting language, and as such is built for fast declarative style coding, and takes as its precedents several scripting languages. The entire look of the language would be different if it were a Java derivative. Both Java and JavaFX script are important languages.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to DevX authors Edmon Begoli, Jacek Furmankiewicz, Anghel Leonard, and Jim White for contributing questions for this interview.


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