Sun unveils RIA toolset, new project for developers

Sun demonstrates JavaFX client technology for building rich Internet applications

Sun Microsystems used Tuesday's opening JavaOne Conference keynote to demonstrate its JavaFX client technology for building rich Internet applications (RIA) and announced that the tool set will ship in the northern Autumn.

Sun also announced at the 13th annual JavaOne event in San Francisco that it is working to get feedback from most of the largest handset manufacturers, carriers and phone plans as it develops JavaFX Mobile for mobile applications and JavaFX TV for applications on interactive digital television. Both of those tools are slated to ship in the spring of 2009.

A developer preview version of JavaFX, a family of tools that includes a runtime, scripting language and media-coded framework for building RIAs for the desktop, mobile television or browser, will be available in July. The technology allows users to "drag" an online application to the desktop, where it can take advantage of local files and storage.

Sun first announced JavaFX at last year's JavaOne show in May. The technology targets rival tools from Microsoft, Adobe and Mozilla.

Rich Green, Sun's executive vice president of software, said that JavaFX will support Java applications that run on various devices used to extend corporate information outside of the traditional "moat" holding it within company walls. In fact, any company continuing to require that data be held within the enterprise will be a "loser," he added.

"Everybody's connected 24/7, creating and consuming information all the time," Green said. "This is really a RIA revolution. RIA is a great user experience that merges information from different services across all the screens of your life. It is all about the connected developer. You need a collaborative effort between designers, content authors and developers. You want agility and the best tools to make all the connected environments come together."

During the keynote, Green demonstrated applications created using JavaFX, including Sun's Photo Flockr app that allows users to search for specific photos by tags and view a cascading view of multiple shots. He also showed The Connected Life, which is used to easily port applications from online to the desktop and then to a mobile phone.

Green also demonstrated a JavaFX application running on the Android Emulator, a Linux-based software platform for mobile devices developed by Google Inc. and the Open Handset Alliance. However, a public relations representative notified Computerworld during the live webcast of the keynote noting that the demo was "not a product announcement. Sun has no plans around Android at this time."

Sun also announced during the keynote two new projects that will ship after JavaFX.

The first, dubbed Project Hydrazine, will allow content creators to build "immersive, creative experiences in the cloud," Green said. "All of you are going to be doing services," he said. "How do you find a platform to allow you to find information, find services, merge those services together, deploy them and share them? That is what Hydrazine is."

Green did not provide addition details on the project.

The second project, Project Insight, aims to let developers track how their applications are being used and who is using them, so they can monetize them, Green added. Project Insight will allow developers to gather instrumented data so they can figure out better ways to make money through advertising.

Sun CEO and President Jonathan Schwartz noted during the keynote that Project Insight represents Sun's "placing a stake in the ground [pledging that] the Java platform will give more insight into the content owners and users."

He went on to note that Sun plans to "give developers the power to instrument what they build so they can understand who is using it," he added. "It is your data, your content ultimately," Schwartz said. "We are going to position you to go after that. This is all going to be free."

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Heather Havenstein

Computerworld

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