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Buttons and sliders go wild with Sun's Java FX

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JavaOne Sun Microsystems has jumped in headfirst into Web 2.0, urging developers to change the world with cell phones and online services powered by its Java software.

Using inspirational statements and not always functioning software demonstrations, Sun executives opened JavaOne outlining a world where Sun's open source and Java technology really can connect people.

The opener to Sun's annual West-Coast pilgrimage was long on vision - with repeated references to consumers and users as "people" and how handsets are outselling PCs - but very short on technology details and roadmap dates, or relevance to the enterprise.

Formally announcing JavaFX Script, Sun software executive vice president Rich Green called the new scripting language "a profound change to Java". Demonstrating that seriousness, he brought forward James Gosling's traditional end-of-JavaOne appearance to Tuesday.

Gosling, showing off JavaFX Script with creator Chris Oliver, claimed JavaFX Script would help developers produce "buttons and sliders gone wild.

"One of the questions we get: is why another scripting language? Most of the scripting languages really focus on generating HTML pages... one of the things that's untouched by scripting languages is building interactive experiences" he said.

Gosling and Oliver proceeded to show a website featuring exactly the same buttons, tabs and fades as any other site online today using AJAX or HTML, built in just "days."

There's no word on JavaFX Script tools. "The next question is where's the tool? [That's] coming soon - it's not there yet," Gosling promised. Green refused to announce a roadmap, instead saying it was "a big step getting the language right".

Next up, JavaFX Mobile, also announced today. The demo used two Nokia handsets with a suspiciously Apple iPhone touch-screen interface and buttons for the standard search, messaging, calendar and phone functions, which at one point went dead and failed to reboot. Green described the device as "serious eye candy".

JavaFX Mobile is due by the end of the year with OEMs delivering JavaFX Mobile handsets "in the first half of calendar '08." Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said Sun will not deliver a packaged JavaFX Mobile product, but OEMs using SavaJe - whose assets Sun acquired and re-branded JavaFX Mobile - could "switch over".

Green promised Sun would make Java Standard Edition (SE) 6.0 - core to JavaFX - faster to download and execute in a set of releases during the "next few months."

Still focused on mobile computing, Sun plans to give service providers and carriers an open source application server capable of provisioning voice, video and IM services in real-time. Ericsson will donate its Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Servlet 1.0 compatible application server to Sun's GlassFish Java application server project. Ericsson will take ownership of Project SailFin (the SIP servlet container sub-project of GlassFish).

Upon the Project's completion this year, Sun will deliver a supported application server. Sun hopes an open source SIP offering will challenge expensive closed-source middleware from BEA Systems and Oracle, which have - so-far - proved a relatively slow burner in terms of sales.

"This is the point at which we are going to change the game with GlassFish," Green claimed. "People are fixated on it [GlassFish] being an enterprise transaction system, but it's useful for many other realms and modes - using the GlassFish container technology to power the next generation of communications."

Over to "guest" keynote speaker Jonathan Schwartz to announce "engineers without boarders" - an unspecified set of mentoring programs - and a open source, Sun hardware appliance that "creates social opportunities for people whose lives can be changed by reaching the internet."

Drawing the dog-and-pony show to a close, was Schwartz's predecessor Scott McNealy. Plugging curriki.org and referencing an earlier comment from Schwartz - about being glad he no longer has to deliver the JavaOne keynote - McNealy effectively answered the one question Sun was unwilling or unable to tackle: how any of this would, or could, help Sun's bottom line.

"You're happy you don't have to do the keynote any more? I'm quite happy I don't have to do earnings calls any more," McNealy chortled.®

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