With the buzz around Rich Internet Applications (RIA) gaining a serious amount of steam and indeed press, with the likes of Adobe’s Flash/Flex and Microsoft’s Silverlight, Sun have now got in on the act with JavaFX. Announced at this years JavaOne conference, JavaFX makes use of a new scripting language and the Swing API for user interface (UI) design to position itself firmly in the RIA camp.
With 5 million Java developers, Sun is not starting from scratch in building a JavaFX following, and Sun plans to release the source code for JavaFX Script to the open source community. The company also hopes that the 2 billion phones that run the Java Mobile Edition (Java ME) will be an advantage. For desktop applications, however, this might mean large, frequent downloads, which in comparrison to Flash, have not been seamless in the past.
Java failed to pioneer rich web applications years ago with the applet, so whether the JavaFX announcement firmly reinvigorates Java as a platform of choice for RIA remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that the RIA scene is becoming increasingly heterogeneous with four leading technologies striving for market dominance; AJAX, Java, Flash and .NET. Each technology has their own, often jingoistic, developer base so the dominance of one technology is not likely to take hold, at least in the short term. Indeed it is likely that the companies will employ a mixture of technologies to best fit the application being developed and the skillset available.