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Sun claims super-skinny JavaFX milestone

The fat app still hasn't sung

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The leaves might be falling, and the first installment of Sun Microsystems' JavaFX might still not be here, but the company has delivered what it's calling a "milestone" for its rich internet application (RIA) platform and runtime.

Sun has released Java Standard Edition 6 Update 10, a version of Java SE that features a re-written plug-in architecture so web applets can run on the desktop.

The Java SE 6u10 plug-in architecture gives applets their own virtual machine (VM) so the applet can be grabbed from a web page and pulled onto your desktop where it can then run. Java SE 6u10 also lets you install the applet locally for use next time when it's time to shut down.

This is seen as a hallmark of RIAs frameworks and runtimes such as Adobe Systems' AIR.

In a further step towards JavaFX, Sun has put SE on a crash diet by stripping out all but core APIs to give consumers faster download and start-up times.

Sun claimed Java SE 6u10 has a 4.5Mb kernel compared to the previous 14.5Mb, with the environment retaining the VM, and core Abstract Widget Toolkit and Swing at the expense of less commonly used APIs like Corba, Remote Method Invocation, and a second garbage collector.

The update provides a common core set of APIs to FX. The theory is you can take these and begin building RIAs.

Danny Coward, chief architect of Sun's software client group, told The Reg that if you want features specific to a PC or mobile phone such as Swing widgets or the ability to interrupt a function when a call comes in, though, you're going to need Sun's planned JavaFX Desktop and JavaFX Mobile profiles respectively.

JavaFX Desktop 1.0 is been scheduled for this autumn, and JavaFX Mobile 1.0 for next February or March with JavaFX TV 1.0. There's still no date for JavaFX Desktop. Coward said Sun's aiming for "end of the year" - technically, autumn finishes on December 21.

Coward promised Java Desktop 1.0 would be "worth the wait," as it would let you build applications using the familiar and tested Java architecture, with the VM and years of bug fixes, across a broad number of machines and devices.

If that promise come to pass, JavaFX could at least have an edge over Adobe's AIR and Microsoft's Silverlight media player browser plug in. Both have more than year's lead over JavaFX in the field and built up millions of downloads. They do not yet extend to mobile, though, so it's as-yet uncertain how transferable your AIR and Silverlight skills will be, or how they'll perform as programming and runtime environments on mobile. ®

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