Sun gears JavaFX for consumer move

Sun has big plans to expand the platform to enable development of consumer applicatIons including productivity systems, games, and social applications

JavaFX, introduced by Sun last year as a Java-based platform for building visually oriented applications, will be leveraged in the growing consumer application space.

Company officials Tuesday afternoon discussed Sun's plans, which will be emphasized at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco in two weeks. JavaFX technologies currently are available only in pre-release forms, but Sun already has big plans to expand the platform to enable development of consumer applications including productivity systems, games, and social applications similar to Facebook.

"The general idea is that consumers, more and more, are driving technology adoption today," said Ed Klein, vice president of Java marketing at Sun. Previously, enterprises drove this adoption, but now a user may be looking at business e-mail on his phone while also contemplating weekend plans, he said.

"The transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 has really come to full fruition," said Klein.

Already featuring a scripting element called JavaFX Script, JavaFX also will include extensions called profiles, which enable applications to be tuned to specific varieties of systems. The first of these will be called JavaFX Desktop, for desktop systems.

Also planned are the previously announced JavaFX Mobile, for mobile applications, as well as profiles for set-top boxes, smart phones, and feature phones, which offer more limited capabilities than smart phones. Another component of Sun's JavaFX stack is the FX Player, which features a Java virtual machine.

Sun officials did not have firm release dates Tuesday for the various planned JavaFX technologies. The company anticipates JavaFX being used in both consumers and enterprise systems. While it could be argued that Sun's consumer play is late to the game, considering rival systems such as Adobe's Photoshop and Flash, Klein sees a place for Java.

"Actually, Java is the predominant platform and [users have] been asking us, 'When are you going to enter this RIA environment?'" Klein said. "With FX, we're coming in full force."

"Our vision statement is really that Java is the platform for the screens of your life," Klein said.

The Sun-backed NetBeans open source tools platform will serve as the basis for building JavaFX applications, but additional tools will be added as supplements. Capabilities for application designers will be included in the mix.

Sun's consumer ecosystem partners for Java include traditional Java developers, content/media-oriented developers, worldwide operators, advertisers, and consumers. Sun officials noted that Java already is on billions of phones.

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