03 August 2009

JavaFX 1.2 On Linux (Update)

Much to my surprise after performing some recent Ubuntu updates Java Web Start suddenly works again. I suspect it may be related to the GNU Java package, which was promptly uninstalled after experiencing problems compiling Java projects in NetBeans. By chance another attempt was made to run a JavaFX application through Web Start which worked perfectly without problems.

For those of you running JavaFX applications on Linux I would highly recommend you run them through Web Start. The reason for this recommendation is that the applet plugin for Firefox needs to become more robust. That is applets need to start without freezing the web browser, and more detailed feedback needs to be provided on the applet's loading progress (including the downloading of required resources). At least with Web Start you obtain a reasonably good level of feedback with the loading progress of an application, and if the application freezes then nothing else will be directly affected.

On the good news the Java Mobile 3 SDK is in the works for Linux. There is a screenshot of the SDK in action with one of the mobile emulators running via NetBeans. At the moment the JavaFX Authoring tool (for designers only) is currently in development. This tool will allow JavaFX applications to be designed visually (including the animations and bindings). It is a shame that the tool is not being targeted towards JavaFX developers since much of what was demoed at JavaOne 2009 is exactly what developers will be involved in doing daily. Certainly one would expect that the tool will be available on Linux since it is written in a mixture of Java and JavaFX. Details are currently sketchy on the tool but expect to hear more about the tool as soon as its released (as a stable version) at the same time JavaFX 2.0 (codename SoMa?) is released towards the end of this year.

I am predicting that if the JavaFX developers needs are met by the JavaFX authoring tool then they will be using it regularly. Not ideal unless there is a similar tool being released at exactly the same time for developers. In the worst case scenario the tool would need to satisfy the following developer requirements:

  1. Allow assets (resources) to be accessed and stored through local storage (eg hard disk, USB key)
  2. Generate fx source files for the view that are loosely coupled from the controller and model
  3. The generated fx source files for the view must be easily customised by the developer, but must be readable in the tool after being customized
  4. Be directly integrated with a set of usable mobile emulators that support all of the required JavaFX mobile APIs (including the set of APIs that make up the Mobile Services Architecture JSR)
  5. Have "Matisse" like visual layout (a real must for custom dynamic layout)
  6. Can easily add additional visual (and non visual) JavaFX controls to the control palette without writing any extra code just like in NetBeans
  7. Customized visual binding via scripting (through JavaFX script)
  8. Automate the tool through visual macros that can be customized at the code level (Scala is a possible candidate here)

If anyone has any ideas on what to include in the list please include it in the comments for this post.

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