Client-Side Java Gets A Boost

Sun offers updates on promises made at JavaOne to improve client-side Java performance and describes sweeping improvements to Java SE.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- Sun Microsystems is working to make good on the many promises related to client-side computing that it first made earlier this year at JavaOne -- although it admits parts of the effort may be some ways off.

During that show, the company introduced its new client-side technology, JavaFX, which would compete with Adobe's AIR and Microsoft's Silverlight. It also promised a future update of Java SE would offer considerably improved performance, particularly in areas related to startup.

Speaking here with journalists, Sun officials said the effort is underway, but could still take years because of its dependence on making massive changes in Java SE.

In the meantime, the company sought to clear up uncertainty among developers surrounding what JavaFX will involve.

"There has been a certain amount of confusion of which pieces are what and where they go," James Gosling, a Sun Fellow and the creator of the Java language, said yesterday. "It’s a complicated landscape of puzzle pieces that fit together."

The company said JavaFX, which is built on Java SE, will be designed to bridge the gap between Web designers (the ones who took art courses in college, as he put it) and developers (or the ones who took computer science). JavaFX Script will be a scripting language like PHO or Python, but focusing on rich user interactions.

One concern has been that building JavaFX Script applications will require a developer environment, and Sun isn't exactly known as an IDE company. However, it said its content creation tools would come in the form of a plug-in that works with either Adobe's Photoshop or Flash CS3.

On the wireless side, Sun said JavaFX Mobile will be built on the assets of SavaJe Technologies, which the company acquired in April of this year. However, one change is that JavaFX Mobile will be based on Java SE, not ME, as has been the tradition for mobile phone.

"It's an attempt to get uniformity by having the same bits on all phones, to have the same commonality on all OSes, so you have interoperability," Gosling said.

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