Schwartz: Three reasons you need JavaFX

Schwartz: Three reasons you need JavaFX

Summary: In the run-up to today's launch of JavaFX, ZDNet sat down with Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz to get his thoughts on JavaFX, Flash, and the future of Java.[ Read: Sun launches JavaFX 1.

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In the run-up to today's launch of JavaFX, ZDNet sat down with Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz to get his thoughts on JavaFX, Flash, and the future of Java.

[ Read: Sun launches JavaFX 1.0, and JavaFX Q&A ]

[Ed] Q. Why did Sun create JavaFX?

[Jonathan] At a top level, we see three real imperatives that are driving us towards the FX platform. The first, that seems evident to the companies that I talk to, is that the browsers have become hostile environments. Microsoft obviously controls the default settings and configuration for Internet Explorer, Google obviously has the pole position with their payment stream to Firefox as well as with Chrome, and none of the other browsers really has the distribution that would cause them to be a focal point for developers. But, the Java platform obviously has that distribution, and in fact that distribution is so profound at this point--we do from 60 to 80 million downloads a month--that you probably know Microsoft recently struck a contract with Sun where we'd agree to share that distribution with Microsoft because we in fact out-distribute Microsoft into their own installed base.

We see developers wanting to own their audiences, and own their ability to establish a relationship with those audiences. If you know about the un-snapping feature in JavaFX now you can see how a developer can deliver content and then simply have the consumer un-snap it and place it on their desktop. After they've done that, they now have unilateral access to the consumer they're trying to serve, as opposed to having to go through a TicketMaster that might be interested in promoting their business.

Next: Two more reasons >

[Jonathan] The second issue we see is that for a lot of developers they're beginning to see that proliferation of mobile phones and smart phones and netbooks and new desktops--much less dashboards and set-top boxes--there's obviously a huge array of new Internet clients emerging, and they don't want to have to build content for each client one by one. The Java platform through JavaFX gives them the capacity to build rich applications for all of those devices with a minimal set of development activity. And again, you can also see that these are devices which have support for various and sundry different technologies, an the Java platform pretty much runs across every one of them.

The final point is that for a lot of the traditional businesses that Sun serves, a lot of enterprises, they've already got skill around Java and network services, and they want to understand how they can expose those pre-existing systems out to the Internet without having to target device by device. The FX platform gives them a rich vehicle through which they can present everything from time-based media to complex interactions and algorithms through a very high performance computing platform.

So for those reasons it seems like now's the time for us to really put our best foot forward and deliver the most compelling Java platform we've ever delivered.

[Ed] Q. Would you say that last point is the main reason someone would consider JavaFX over Adobe Flash/Flex?

[Jonathan] Well, I think the reasons why the developers we talk to are so interested in JavaFX over some of its peers is first and foremost because we out-distribute almost all of them. Remember, we distribute something like 60-80 million runtimes a month, and that out-distributes pretty much everybody. I think that for developers, the first and almost exclusive thing they care about is volume--how do you get me to a volume audience. We can deliver that with exceptional agility given the ease with which we can push out new content to the Java community. Again, you need only look at the Microsoft contract as a proof-point for that.

But I think certainly familiarity... Java remains the number 1 language instructed across the world. So we continue to see an overwhelming number of developers who want to create content, get it out to the audience, and then innovate in ways other platforms may not support.

From a developer's perspective there are a few other things--obviously there's the fact that the platform is now completely open source, is available on everything from handsets to consumer electronics devices--just a while variety of things that our competition really can't do because their platforms aren't open source or don't connect to traditional business systems, or frankly have been focused on PCs as opposed to the world of mobile content around them. The US tends to be very fixated on desktops but I think we're somewhat isolated in that regard. The rest of the world is more focused on mobile handsets, and clearly that's where Java has been focused as well. This allows us to bring it back on the desktop.

Next: Is Swing dead? >

[Ed] Q. Over time, should we expect to see a de-emphasis of regular Java APIs like Swing in favor of JavaFX?

[Jonathan] No, because there is no one hammer for all nails. We're interested in trying to serve as diverse and as rich a set of developers as possible. Some of our developers don't care about user interfaces at all, others believe everything needs to be based on JavaScript, and others want a more robust or interactive 3D interaction environment. So we want to appeal to them all; we don't want to try to dictate the answer to all their problems.

[Ed] Q. JavaFX was developed outside the JCP/JSR process. Does Sun still believe in the JCP like it once did?

[Jonathan] We believe in the JCP as a vehicle for establishing standards. The JCP, given its very nature, has been a tough place to innovate. So, we're going to certainly work with other JCP members on trying to build standards around the innovations that we're all creating. I mean, all the members of the JCP are very innovative inventive companies. I think the JCP is best seen as a means of establishing standards rather than a means of kind of up-ending history with disruptive innovations.

[Ed] Q. What's the take-away message for developers regarding today's launch?

[Jonathan] The take-away message for developers is two things: First, the proof is in the pudding. Go download NetBeans with the new JavaFX and go give it a whirl, and you'll get a sense pretty quickly for what you're able to do that you wouldn't be able to do with other technologies or even with the historic Java platform.

The second message is a different one for developers, one I think that many have already picked up on in the past few years, which is: Audience is everything. You have to own your own audience if you want to own your own business. Browsers have become hostile, I don't think that's news, and the Java platform with JavaFX specifically enables you to own your own audience. To the extent you want to build your own social network, you don't want to have to navigate through someone else's default settings to build an audience. Whether you're building a new network service, a new social service, or a utility service, owning your own audience is core to creating opportunity and that's what we want to enable developers to do.

Next: Will we see it on the (fill in your favorite device here)? >

[Ed] Q. Should we expect to see JavaFX appear on more devices to reach more of that audience?

[Jonathan] JavaFX will be a unified platform that spans mobile devices, netbooks, dashboards, consumer electronics, and desktop PCs. It may seem like niches today, but ATM machines, gas pumps, billboards... I mean really the marketplace for the Internet is as broad as humanity and the globe. So we're going to take JavaFX to wherever the Internet goes. We're not the ones pre-supposing that we can identify all those devices today. I think if you'd asked someone 10 years ago to identify whether the Internet would be running on a picture frame or on an automobile, no one would have guessed it, but today that's kind of a ho-hum event. Just go walk through a consumer electronics store and you'll see where JavaFX will be running.

[Ed] Like toys?

[Jonathan] A lot of what used to be gimmicks 3-4 years ago; they're just not gimmicks any more. They're actually kind of interesting and engaging. It's everything from the evolution of sensor platforms to gaming platforms--it's incredible what's going on, and we want to be a part of that in a bigger way than we have historically.

Topics: Open Source, Oracle, Software Development

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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28 comments
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  • What does it matter, Sun is history

    And Java is going to die with it.


    Stupid Sun, thought going open source would actually save their company and all its done is sink them.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Java won't die with Sun.

      IBM won't let it.

      Similarly, the disappearance of Red Hat and Novell wouldn't/won't mean the end of Linux.

      When a company can make money using a free product, it'll continue to maintain the free product.

      Sun, of cource, can't make money on its open source products because those products were what Sun was selling. But other companies selling other products can make good use of the IP Sun gifted them.
      Anton Philidor
      • Are you certain that is true

        Java is NOT open sores.
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • Yes it is

          Now let's go back and forth saying "no it isn't", "yes it is", etc.. Or not. Read this and tell me why it's not open source:

          http://www.sun.com/software/opensource/java/getinvolved.jsp

          http://blogs.zdnet.com/Burnette/?p=304

          http://blogs.zdnet.com/Burnette/?p=199
          Ed Burnette
      • because M$ has a helping hand in this

        [i]Microsoft recently struck a contract with Sun where we?d agree to share that distribution with Microsoft because we in fact out-distribute Microsoft into their own installed base.[/i]
        I don't know what Sun outdistributes M$ on, but Sun is glad to grab any cas$ M$ hands over and sign on the doted line.
        Linux Geek
    • I wouldn't count Sun out yet...

      They still have US$3B in the bank and no debt. In an economic downturn Open Source appeals to a lot of people. Sun is in a great position now.
      914four
  • He's delusional

    60-80 million downloads of Java a month? My guess is that most of those are people who already have Java and are being updated to the latest version. And there's certainly no way it out-distributes Flash.

    And yes, Java is the most-instructed language, but that doesn't mean its the most used or best. Sun had a strong presence at universities before coming up with Java, and they leveraged those relationships to get the schools to primarily teach Java.
    PB_z
  • RE: Schwartz: Three reasons you need JavaFX

    Of the 6000 layoffs Sun just did, none were from the Java division. The Java division is profitable and growing.

    Same can be said of all of their other software divisions, all of which have been open sourced to one degree or another. Since going on this open source route, Sun's software business has increased, in the form of support, services, and enterprise extensions. Prior to that, Sun's proprietary software business wasn't making much money, losing out to other proprietary competitors. So open sourcing made sense, and continues to make sense, in terms of increased $$$.

    Trouble is for Sun, the increase in their open source business is not enough to offset the losses in their big iron sever, sparc, and storage businesses. They were always mostly a hardware company, which really specialized in very high performance, very highly scalable, servers. In particular, Sun servers are the choice-dujour among financial companies and Wall Street, and that was/is a major chunk of their server business. But guess what? - the Financial services market, and Wall Street, are in the toilet right now. So, poof! - huge hit on Sun's revenue.

    Going forward, it might be likely that Sun gets carved up. But the Java portion of it will always remain strong. At the very least, big players like IBM, Oracle, and Google, all of whose businesses reley heavily on Java, will never let Java die or flounder.

    And to those who doubt Schwartz's claims of Java distribution - just look at the Microsoft deal. Microsoft would not have made that deal if Java did not have the distribution that Schwartz claims, because MS is sure as hell not in business as a Sun charity. MS saw an opportunity to get more wide distribution of their online properties, and saw Java as a vehicle to that end. Thus the deal with Sun. Proof positive, case closed, 'nuff said.

    Now to JavaFX. It has compelling arguments in it's favor over Flex/Flash and Silverlight:

    1. It's based on the Java SE platform, and fully integrated. As an overall platform, Java is eons ahead of Flash. True, Flash is ahead in the area of video, animation, and games. But when it comes to the whole programming universe, and the plethora of APIs needed to make all kinds of applications, Java is waaaaay ahead. And Java is catching up in video and 3d, with JavaFX

    2. Java is truely cross platform, and .Net isn't. Sure, there's Moonlight, but it will always be a step or two behind Silverlight.

    3. JavaFX will have full distribution across all kinds of devices - standard desktops, hand helds, smart phones, set-top boxes, blu-ray, browsers, and on an on. Flash and Silverlight won't come close to supporting that level of device support.
    super_J
    • Um actually not so much...

      1. Silverlight is as eons ahead of JavaFX as JavaFX is ahead of Flash.

      2. Silverlight is truly cross platform. Sure some will lag Windows desktop, just like Flash and just like JavaFX.

      3. Silverlight will have full distribution across all kinds of devices. Well before JavaFX. iPhone, nokia, windows mobile? Yep yep yep, xbox, wii, ps3? yep yep yep. Desktops, hand helds, set top boxes? yep yep yep...
      Johnny Vegas
      • sliverlight is a "hidden, proprietary" MESS.

        If you actually *READ* the draconian license terms for Mono's proprietary IP, you'll see that MS can change the rules anytime they want.

        Hook 'em in with Mono first. Then, with the NEXT Windows version, provide features and functions which Mono doesn't and never will-- forcing people back to Windows.

        Embrace (Mono), Extend (Silverlight V3), Extinguish. Have we seen this before? "yep, yep, yep..."

        I'll believe MS to be "open" when they expose what they did to Kerberos. Cross-platform? no, not exactly.
        Rick S._z
        • Ooooh better tighten your foil hat

          Hurry they're coming for you.
          Johnny Vegas
        • No Silverlight for me... JavaFX sounds great.

          I haven't seen any compelling reason to install Silverlight on my machine. It seems to be a solution to a non-existent problem. There is no lack of ways to create interactive content on the web already. Between Java (open source) and Flash, exactly WHY do we need another proprietary system from Microsoft? We have too many corporate-forced "standards" now.

          I, for one, am happy to see JavaFX released. Any open source solution is bound to get preferential treatment from international standards organizations versus some proprietary mess. Since Flash is so slow to appear on new platforms, this could be the solution we need for the long term.
          BillDem
      • And it will grow hair...

        ...and make you attractive to the opposite sex too! It will leap tall buildings in a single bound, fly faster than a comet and cure world hunger. Just like all unreleased products from... you know, those guys. Jerry's friends.
        914four
    • Distribution numbers

      "Flash and Silverlight won't come close to supporting that level of device support"

      Silverlight, no, but Flash probably will. I can view Flash on my Nintendo Wii for example. Flash penetration is currently higher on PCs and lower on non-PCs but with Adobe's interest in mobile Flash 10 that might change.

      See http://blogs.zdnet.com/Burnette/?p=683 .
      Ed Burnette
  • Java is already dead

    The language has ALWAYS sucked and its continues to fall further and further behind.
    jackbond
    • Re: Java is already dead

      Looky hear, Java is number one:

      http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/content/paperinfo/tpci/index.html

      Dice.com job search:

      Java: 11,294 matches
      C#: 5418 matches
      VB: 1511
      Ruby: 620
      Javascript: 4843
      C++: 6121
      Python: 1166

      ... and so on.

      Let's add to that Java is installed on most PCs, over a billion phones, Blu-Ray, set-top boxes, Enterprise servers (Java is practically the de-facto standard for big server side business applications), and so on.

      There are over 5 million Java developers.
      Java is taught in every major (and minor) university.

      If all that is "dead", then I'm thinking all the other languages and their users wish they were as "dead" as Java.

      P.S. You're an idiot. ;)
      super_J
      • Number one because no one wants the jobs?

        Just because there are 11,000 job postings for Java programmers (is that really for Java programmers or just Java mentioned somewhere in the job ad?) doesn't mean that it's "number one." Maybe the fact that there's so many openings is because no one wants to program in Java?

        Personally, I'd never take a job that was Java programming. (I wouldn't be so keen on a .NET programming job either, just so you know -- I'm a C++/Win32 kind of guy.)
        PB_z
        • number one ...

          Look at the link for the Tiobe index, which puts Java number one.

          Then I did some Dice searches, and brought back numbers.

          Yup, those Java matches are true Java jobs, at the very least as one of the technogies used. And it's usually JEE stuff - using app servers like WebSphere, WebLogic, JBoss, Spring, and using standards like JSP, Servlets, EJB, etc.

          Now, not taking a job programming with Java is a matter of personal choice. I too like C++, but not for all situations. I like Java, but again, not for all situations.

          But the point of my post was to show that Java is far far far from dead, in spite of what detractors, or even Java devs themselves sometimes (developers can be angst-addicted ;) ) all say.

          Java is, in fact, one of the most pervasive languages and platforms in the software industry, and will continue to be so for the forseeable future.
          super_J
          • actually it's number 2

            (pun intended)
            markbn
  • RE: Schwartz: Three reasons you need JavaFX

    Am sorry Ed am gonna have to say no to this one!
    viruser