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Sun looks to outsiders to script Java's future

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JavaOne Sun is seeking developers outside the "Java rank and file" to join the Java Community Process (JCP) standards body. The company is eying up content authors and scripting developers as JCP recruits to deliver feedback and drive platform and language changes.

Sun has already added byte code to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) for scripting support, but it wants input into what other areas need attention, Bob Brewin, Sun's software chief technology officer, told The Register.

The JCP recruitment drive supports Sun's foray into developer-generated content, courtesy of JavaFX Script - unveiled in an extremely early form on Tuesday - and through the addition of scripting support to Java via the JVM.

Rich Green, Sun's software executive vice president, this week claimed that there are six million Java developers out there - but he did not specify if this included all programmers, or just those considered "professional".

When we last counted, in 2003, numbers ranged from 1.5 million to three million. Sun's stated aim then was also for growth: 10 million individuals in just three years using its then-new rich-client and interface vehicle, Project Rave that became Java Studio Creator.

At the time Sun hoped to win converts through drag-and-drop and visual development. However, while Java Studio Creator employed the new Java Server Face (JSF) framework, Sun sunk any chance of hitting anything close to its developer targets by putting Java Studio Creator on NetBeans.

This time around, consumer devices and rich-clients are the rallying cry. With JavaFX Script and JavaFX Mobile, Sun thinks the addressable market is 5.5 billion Java-powered mobile devices (including two billion phones), 800 million desktops and 11 million TVs, plus millions of websites and GUI-based enterprise applications desperately in need of a sexy, AJAXy Web 2.0 make over.

"Today, Java developers are building for the enterprise desktops and servers. But if you throw that into a bucket, you wouldn't be able to find that bucket for [the bigger] bucket of TVs and other [consumer] devices," Brewin said.

As with 2003, Sun's strategy relies more on evangelism than reality: key elements remain missing.

So far, there's no word on JavaFX Script tools. the language is incomplete - with Sun looking to the community to fill holes (potentially slowing delivery) - and, beyond mobile, there's no indication of what devices - and in which sequence - Sun will target. Indeed, there's a very strong suggestion that JavaFX Mobile is a re-branded version of SavaJe technology it recently acquired, which - in any case - doesn't appear to boot too cleverly on Nokia or Linux handsets, if the company's JavaOne keynote demonstrations are anything to judge by. ®

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