Feeds

Coming soon: Open source JavaFX for iOS, Android

Will enable cross-platform Java-based UIs – but why?

The essential guide to IT transformation

Java and JavaFX on iOS? Maybe not

First, using JavaFX isn't the most practical way to build an iOS app. Because iOS doesn't ship with a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and JavaFX is implemented in pure Java, using the technology means iOS developers must embed both the JavaFX libraries and a lightweight JVM into their apps. That could potentially result in multiple, redundant copies of the JVM running on the same device.

Not to mention that outside of Oracle, no one has seen this particular JVM yet. Bair says his team's JavaFX ports for mobile platforms "are based on an as-yet unreleased version of JavaSE Embedded for iOS/Android," so we can't be sure what its capabilities are.

Second, Apple still places restrictions on the types of software that can be sold through the iOS App Store. Most notably, virtual machines that do Just in Time (JIT) compilation are forbidden, which could limit the real-world performance of Java, and by extension JavaFX.

Third, the licensing issues around OpenJFX and the App Store aren't clear. The open source versions of JavaFX and the JDK are licensed under the GPLv2 with the Classpath Exception. Cupertino has booted GPL-licensed software from the App Store in the past because the license conflicts with Apple's own terms of service.

Bair says "his understanding" is that the Classpath Exception means you should be able to link the JavaFX code libraries into your own apps, release the apps under your own license, and sell them through the app store without violating Apple's terms. But even he isn't 100 per cent sure, and he hastens to add that he's not a lawyer.

But perhaps the most significant reason why JavaFX is unlikely to take off among iOS developers is that there simply isn't any compelling reason to use it. Apple provides a native UI toolkit for iOS, and developers who prefer a cross-platform technology already have a perfectly workable solution in HTML5.

According to recent research by Gartner, by 2016 more than 50 per cent of all mobile apps will be so-called hybrid apps, built using a combination of native application logic and a UI layer based on HTML. Given that HTML rendering is supported by every modern smartphone platform, there's little incentive to bolt on something extra, such as JavaFX.

Still, niche UI tools and frameworks have enjoyed some success among games developers, and Oracle may be hoping to tap into that market with JavaFX, rather than selling it to productivity-app developers. If that's the case, however, there's a lot more work to be done before JavaFX is a viable competitor to the likes of Unity or ShiVa3D.

The question is whether Oracle is willing to do that work. The efforts of Bair's team to open source JavaFX are commendable, but until Oracle is willing to commit to a formal release of JavaFX for mobile platforms, developers aren't likely to have much faith in its future, either. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
China: You, Microsoft. Office-Windows 'compatibility'. You have 20 days to explain
Told to cough up more details as antitrust probe goes deeper
BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV
Pureed-carrot-in-ice cream C++ surprise
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.