Sometime this week, developers will be able to get their hands on a preview SDK (software development kit) for JavaFX, Sun's entry into the RIA (rich Internet application) framework wars, according to an official company blog post.
"We are now in the final push to get the first Preview Release of the JavaFX SDK out the door for the end of the month. I'm excited by what we've put together but also exhausted," Sun official Joshua Marinacci wrote on July 16.
"Since JavaOne 2007 we've built (from scratch), a compiler for a new language with many non-trivial features, a GUI runtime with a new graphics and animation stack, new Netbeans plugins with code completion, utilities for graphic designers, a new kind of javadocs (rewritten from the ground up), plus docs, samples, and demos. And that's not even counting the many improvements that are going into Java SE 6 update 10."
Much work remains to be done before Sun ships the 1.0 version of the SDK later this year, but the preview represents "a huge milestone," he added.
JavaFX, which Sun first announced plans for more than a year ago, will eventually enable developers to build applications that span the desktop, browser, mobile devices and even televisions, according to Sun's road map. The goal echoes that of Adobe's Open Screen initiative.
Sun's framework must bump elbows with a host of others for developer mindshare. Some observers have questioned whether Sun is simply too late to the market compared to its competitors, which include Microsoft and Adobe.
But others, such as Redmonk analyst Michael Cote, have said the RIA landscape is still being defined, and there is no clear winner yet.
Also, Sun's experience with open-source development may prove to be an asset, he argued on his blog: "The quicker Sun can go open fully open source with their JavaFX stack -- start developing it in the open, letting people use nightly builds, and even collaborating in the open, the better positioned they'll be to make up for any lateness."