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Sun's JavaFX consumer pitch falls on confused ears

Give us meat and potatoes, not video!

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Bypassing the Browser

Second, and to Schwartz's point, the demo showed the browser being cut out of the relationship between the content provider and the customer as the application was dragged to the desktop where it could be activated later minus the browser. "We give you the capacity to get to the user once, return to the user, and make sure nobody else gets in the way of that relationship," Sun's CEO said.

For one attendee, though, Sun is being too focused on the flashy stuff like video. It's ignoring a market where JavaFX could really clean up - the enterprise - by following Adobe and Apple with demos of video on the desktop.

Speaking anonymously, he said Sun should focus on meat and potatoes work, such as rebuilding Oracle product management lifecycle (PLM) systems - as his company has done using other technologies - with JavaFX. The enterprise is, after all, where Java's strongest thanks to the server and where the existing skills live. The enterprise, from his company's experience, is where the money also lives - not in more flashy video services.

"They [Sun] can't decide if they want to do consumer things or meat and potatoes," the attendee told us. "The business demonstration was flashy - you don't have to be flashy. You just have to solve simple business problems," he said.

Another event attendee went further. Based on what he'd seen, he told The Reg it was difficult to see what JavaFX offers in RIAs that's better or different to Adobe with Flash and AIR, or Apple with QuickTime and iTunes.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said if JavaFX genuinely solves a problem such as - as Sun has claimed - providing the same development model across different devices then that could be an advantage. Or, if it does offer "dramatically higher performance" - as suggested but not proved - that could also work. "There needs to be some thing it does better than anybody else," he said. Alas, though, it "wasn't clear to me what was different, what's unique or different from other RIA platforms."

Where to use JavaFX is not Sun's only problem. It seems Sun has, after two years, delivered something that still needs work. The virtual machine might be fast, and - by being fast - finally address more than a decade's worth of slow Java on the PC, but JavaFX is big as downloads go while the tools incomplete, according to Anderson.

Elephant in the room

No wonder when Adobe worries about the RIA competition, it's Microsoft and its Silverlight browser-based plug in for media that concerns Adobe not Sun or JavaFX.

And whether Sun and the audience knew it or not, there was one big fat contradiction sitting in the room. According to Schwartz, PC-based access to the internet is a North American and Western European phenomena. The rest of the world's logging on, viewing and downloading using phones and other non-PC devices. If that's the case then, why was he showing us video on the desktop, rather than wheeling out the future: JavaFX for mobile?

Because Sun doesn't yet have JavaFX for mobile, so it had to demo what it did have - contradiction or no contradiction, old school or not. The mobile part is coming next Spring - more than a year after it was initially promised.

Where does JavaFX go after that? Eric Klein, vice president of Java marketing, committed to laying out the full JavaFX roadmap at Sun's annual JavaOne conference, next June in San Francisco. ®

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