Sun Releases JavaFX Mobile

The battle for mindshare of rich interactive application (RIA) developers took a step forward today as Sun Microsystems released a follow-up to its recently released JavaFX platform with its anticipated mobile edition. The release of JavaFX Mobile comes just one day after Novell unleashed Moonlight 1.0, which allows users on Linux and Unix systems to run Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 apps.

While some have questioned where JavaFX will fit in the RIA equation when Adobe and Microsoft appear to be gaining the most share, Sun officials say JavaFX will appeal to the huge ecosystem of Java developers. Already 100,000 developers have downloaded the JavaFX SDK released in December, said Octavian Tanase, senior director of the Java platform group.

"We are starting to see them take Java applications in the enterprise, where they are the de facto standard, and then add individual interfaces for things like business intelligence or data visualization or a portal that allows developers to tie in Web services into a JavaFX portal," Tanase said.

Sun revealed plans for JavaFX nearly two years ago. At the time, after it acquired startup company SavaJe, Sun was expected to create its mobile operating system based on the intellectual property it had acquired. "[Sun] got rid of the baggage they were carrying from the SavaJe OS and re-established JavaFX Mobile as a runtime environment and not a complete platform," said Ovum analyst Tony Cripps.

Flash and Silverlight appear to have the upper hand with mobile developers, Cripps said. "Clearly, those platforms have a lot of buy-in from content providers, which automatically makes them a safer choice," he said.

"From what I can see, the take-up of Microsoft and Adobe tools for building interactive multimedia sites has been high, and that creates a bigger incentive for device manufactures to make their devices compatible with those technologies," he added.

Still, Silverlight Mobile is not yet shipping, though Microsoft has stated it will initially be available on Nokia's S60 phone, and many devices have previous versions of Adobe's Flash technology.

But Tanase said Sun is appealing to a narrower set of developers than Adobe and Microsoft. "We are not focused on the mass market designers that use Flash," he said. Rather, Sun provides a plug-in for Eclispe and NetBeans that allows developers to build applications within the IDE. Sun's Production Suite lets developers "work seamlessly with graphic designer counterparts, so these are plug-ins installed into Adobe CS3 or CS4 so assets from Illustrator and Photoshop can seamlessly be incorporated into a JavaFX application," he said.

One such developer is Syracuse, N.Y.-based Malden Labs, which offers a SOA-based platform for enabling organizations to extend enterprise Java-based applications to next-generation Web and mobile environments. Initially, Malden Labs was going to use Flash, said Thom Theriault, Malden Labs' CTO

"[What] we came to realize was with Flash Flex, it was going to be easy to do the easy things and harder to do the hard things, and that's because you really need the richness of the Java platform to integrate all the different content stores within the enterprise," Theriault said, adding he is confident that devices will support JavaFX, though that remains to be seen.

Initially, among the initial devices that will offer JavaFX are the Windows Mobile-based Sony Ericsson X1 and C905 running OSE Delta and LG Electronics' Incite running Windows Mobile and the LG KC910 (also known as "Renoir") running a proprietary real-time operating system. They will be unveiled at next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of and news editor of Visual Studio Magazine.