Related topics

Life hands Sun steaming sack of...

Lacking lemons, Schwartz makes JavaFX

Fail and You "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade." The chorus of a person who gives just enough of a shit about your problems to console you, but not enough to actually help. Lately, somebody has been consoling Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, but nobody is helping. When Schwartz took over for Scott McNealy in 2006, he inherited the Java ME clusterfuck, along with a host of other dreams that never were.

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, but what do you make when life hands you a steaming sack of shit? With a lemon, you can at least use it as garnish for the cocktail you swim in to numb your problems.

The Java platform has been kicking around different markets for a while, but can never seem to make any headway into rich internet applications. Applets seemed like a good idea on a whiteboard, but in practice, turned out to be just one more scoop to fill the bag that awaited Schwartz. He took all of Sun's attempts at making webapps better and consolidated them into JavaFX.

It's pretty compelling as an acronym. It sounds almost as bad-ass as XML did when it first came out. Maybe it's the technical end-all-be-all of RIA platforms. Maybe it's superior to Flash, Silverlight, and Adobe AIR. None of that will matter, though, because Sun missed its window of opportunity. That won't stop them from trying, because to an engineer, all that matters is technical competence. Pesky shit like "market share" and "distribution channels" are just things to be thought about later, after the code is perfect.

It's pretty clear that somebody at Sun read "Learn Business Junk in 24 Hours" before coming up with the idea for JavaFX Mobile. JavaFX is a rich internet application runtime that sits atop the JVM on client machines. If you have this runtime on your computer, you can run JavaFX-enhanced webapps. Schwartz recently boasted that JavaFX has more than 100,000,000 installations.

As an aside, I use this line when I'm out drinking with the buddies. I am the sole proprietor of an impressive piece of hardware that has seen more than 100,000,000 installations, if you catch my drift. Trouble is, whenever a dude starts talking up his installation count, you know he's bullshitting. So, take Schwartz's estimate with a grain of salt.

JavaFX Mobile is the extension of JavaFX to handheld devices. If you're browsing the web on your cell phone and come across a JavaFX web app, you can run it on your phone. The future is now.

Sun recently launched JavaFX Mobile at a conference in Barcelona, and the rest of the world promptly got back to work. As per a new licensing deal, Sony Ericsson and LG will start shipping JavaFX enabled handsets. Yeah, that's fantastic and all, but unless the obnoxiously long-haired Schwartz can convince the not-yet-dead Steve Jobs and whatever outside-the-valley hardass who runs Research in Motion to ship the iPhone and the Blackberry with JavaFX, this technology will suffer the same fate as Java ME: it'll be rehashed into another product with a different acronym.

Sponsored: 10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity

Next page: Adobe Bull Boss