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Ellison pits Sun and Oracle against AJAX and Google

JavaFX for OpenOffice and netbooks

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JavaOne Under Oracle's charge, Sun Microsystems will fuel PCs and phones with Java and JavaFX, challenging Google's Android on netbooks, Oracle's chief Larry Ellison has said.

The CEO has also made it clear he expects the Sun-backed OpenOffice project - and potential challenger to Microsoft's Office - to dump AJAX and switch to Sun's JavaFX for its web interface.

Ellison's declaration means he's backing an emerging and largely Sun-only technology, while the majority of the web and the industry uses AJAX. Unlike the rest of Sun's Java language and platform, JavaFX has not gone through Java standards body the Java Community Process (JCP).

Sun has been promoting JavaFX heavily as a way for developers to re-use their existing programming skills and tools, rather than needing to learn AJAX or other technologies.

During his JavaOne appearance with Sun co-founder and chairman Scott McNealy, Ellison re-iterated Oracle's committed to Java, saying Java is the strategic direction for his company's middleware. Hence there appears to be room for JavaFX.

In classic alpha-Ellison mode, Oracle's CEO committed his company to JavaFX in software and on devices and PCs: "We are very committed to see JavaFX exploited throughout Oracle and through Sun."

"I've been meeting with all the different products groups inside of Sun, and one of the things I'm looking forward to is seeing libraries come out of the OpenOffice group that are JavaFX based," Ellison said.

Inside of Sun? That's a bit premature there Larry.

"We'd like to see accelerated development based on this exciting new platform Java with FX, which allows us - thank-you very much James [Gosling], no more AJAX tools, which a lot of suffering programmers will pray for you for the rest of their lives because they don't have to program in AJAX any more," he continued.

"Going to JavaFX is going to let us build fantastic UIs in Java, and we hope, we encourage the OpenOffice group to quickly build their version of a spread sheet or a word app using JavaFX".

How Oracle's commitment squares with its support for Eclipse-based development tools is unclear. Sun's NetBeans is the only IDE for building JavaFX applications, and Oracle has publicly rejected NetBeans in the past for its JDeveloper environment and Eclipse-based plug ins. Oracle and Sun will either need to put a JavaFX project into Eclipse and add support for JDeveloper, or embrace NetBeans. It will be up to individuals in Oracle's tools and middleware group to work out the details of Ellison's grand plan.

Also, it's unclear how far OpenOffice will be willing to embrace JavaFX and what would happen to this majority Sun-backed project should it resist. Adopting JavaFX completely at the expense of AJAX would take it outside the mainstream of developer and industry support.

On PCs and devices, Ellison promised competition against Android on netbooks. Oracle's chief seemed to commit to a Sun that delivers applications and a whole Java environment for netbooks and devices.

"I don't see why some of those devices can't come from Sun," Ellison said.

"You will see us get very aggressive in developing Java applications for things like telephones and netbooks... there will be computers that are based on Java and JavaFX and devices based on Java and JavaFX, not only from Google but also from Sun," he promised.

Again, details were scarce. It's worth remembering, though, that Ellison was a keen exponent last decade of the network computer. A piece of software developed for the NC was Lotus Development's eSuite, built entirely on Java and killed in 1999 after a short and fruitless existence following some minor adoption. ®

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