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Oracle to webify mobile Java against Android

Hot for WebKit and DirectX

OpenWorld JavaOne Oracle is throwing hardware-accelerated graphics and web integration into mobile Java to catch and contain Google's rogue Android

The database giant has laid out plans for Java ME - Oracle's preferred flavor of Java on mobile - that will let the stack render HTML, CSS, and Javascript by default.

Java ME is going to include WebKit Engine, JavaScript Engine, and Java/JavaScript Bridge, which will mean phones running future versions of Java ME can access web services and apps outside of a browser and - potentially - without any performance bugs or performance issues.

Also, Oracle is juicing 2D and 3D graphics with a brand-new Java rendering engine planned for the next calendar year.

The engine will plug into the Java ME virtual machine and into Java FX - the rich graphics and interface layer and language Oracle inherited from Sun Microsystems.

Oracle's Java ME engine will support what Oracle called "modern graphics hardware accelerators" - Direct X from Microsoft for Windows in addition to OpenGL or "better" senior vice president of Oracle server technologies Thomas Kurian told Oracle's JavaOne conference in San Francisco, California.

Java ME is going to be optimized for the ARM7 and ARM9 chipsets licensed by handset component makers Broadcom, Samsung, NEC, Texas Instruments, and others with the stack also updated to include APIs that take advantage of phone features such as payment, telephony, and location.

The intention is to bring some of the sparkle of smart phones to the Cinderalla-like Java ME feature phone market. "We want to enable the Java ME platform for collaboration, video conferencing, browsing and scrolling that are today restricted to a very, very small class of devices," Kurian said.

To stir up some interest in JavaFX and get the thing moving as a viable alternative to Microsoft's Silverlight and Adobe Systems' Flash, Oracle will open source the stack.

Kurian said JavaFX and the UI controls would be released to developers under open-source - presumably GPL, like the rest of Java - "this year."

"We want the nine million Java developers in the world to never have to chose a different environment to build a great-looking UI ever again," Kurian said.

The next release of JavaFX, in the third-quarter of 2011, will introduce generics, annotations, and multithreading, and continue work started at Sun to open the VM to non-Java languages by making it easier to build graphics using JRuby, Groovy, and JavaScript.

JavaFX for the CLDC Java ME profile, meanwhile, has been put on hold. Kurian told press at JavaOne that the reason for this is that the CLDC VM lacks the necessary hardware acceleration and that such phones are missing the graphics engine needed for Java FX.

The Java ME technology roadmap is the follow on punch to the legal lawsuit Oracle landed on Google's kisser in August for claimed patent violations of Java in Android.

Rather than run Java ME, Android uses a subset of the Apache Software Foundation's Harmony and runs the Dalvik VM to get around some of the current limitations in Java ME. ®

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