The following is a write-up of the highlights during the Sun Developer Day which I just attended. The early day kicked off with the usual registration and light refreshments before moving on to the ballroom for the opening keynote by Sun’s Director of Technology Outreach, Reginald Hutcherson.
The keynote addressed the possibilities of JavaFX in the non-PC arena such as televisions and mobile phones or according to Reginald, “any screen you will ever come across”. While it is a bold claim for a new technology in a world with existing competitors such as Flex, Silverlight, GWT …etc, it would be interesting to see how JavaFX performs in 2009. The keynote wrapped up with the advocacy of using open-source technology which was not surprising.
The demo shootout showcased the more interesting bits of the event. The first demo demonstrated the capabilities of JavaFX such as widget animation, a Flickr demo where click-able images are downloaded on the fly while floating across a canvas and finally, a video puzzle game with the video playing in the background. Performance was great and seamless considering the fact that they were all done on MacBook Pros. The next demo, showcased a compiz/beryl-like desktop for open Solaris and virtualization using VirtualBox which is now owned by Sun. Next up, is a quick 5 minute walkthrough of using NetBeans to produce a JavaFX app. This walkthrough shows off the tools within Netbeans such as drag and drop code generation and on the fly coding and previewing which is really impressive from a usability point of view. A feature which allows importing of Illustrator-created graphics was also mentioned, although it was never demonstrated.
The next bit discussed on the direction Java SE is heading and covered topics such as closure, Java Modules (JAM – JSR 277), and the usage of annotations in Swing, such as event handling…etc. While the morning covered the main highlights, the rest of the day was spent on code demonstrations on various topics such as REST, more JavaFX, SOA, MySQL, Dtrace and xVM (Virtual Box). Also, we got to see many of the features within Netbeans which were used during the demos. Sun is trying to market Netbeans to a wider range of developers (PHP, Ruby…etc.), which may be a challenge where there are many who have already got used to the Eclipse environment.
In general, the demos were well conducted and interesting. However, there were a few that were done in a hurry or needed more time for explanation as they were heavy topics (eg. SOA with OpenESB and Java CAPS). Unfortunately, there was not enough time for a Q&A session. Its understandable Q&As can potentially take up more time, but I’m sure there is always time for 1 or 2.
Personally, my main aim for attending the event was to learn more about JavaFX. I was impressed with what I saw and I appreciate the fact that Sun is stepping up their game in the IDE market. This is important, if they are to compete with the likes of Microsoft’s Visual Studio. However, one itching question remains. Is JavaFX able to compete with other web technologies in terms of performance on older hardware or will it be another slow Swing app?