Friday, November 20, 2009

Oracle, Flex and MOS - a sign for Java FX?

Ok, while we are still waiting for the Oracla/Sun purchase to go through, there is also lots of speculating about what might happen with Sun's technology portfolio moving forward.

Since the world is moving towards richer UI interfaces for the browser, I am always in the struggle to assess which technology stacks are most appropriate to learn (GWT, Flex, plain HTML + your choice of JavaScript library such as JQuery, YUI etc.). Thus, particularly as a Java developer I am of course interested in the outlook of JavaFX - I certainly "wish" it be successful, but it still seems to be lacking in various areas (Component libraries, JVM modularization, 'community'). Furthermore, there has not been any Oracles/Sun statements about the future of JavaFX as far as I know (Please comment if I am wrong)

There was a higher-level article in InfoWorld yesterday discussing the future of Sun's technologies:

Oracles involvmen into Flex

This brings me to the main trigger point that caused me to this blog entry. A few days back, I read a news article at Heise Online, a large German IT news portal, stating that Oracle has some major issues while switching over to their new support system 'My Oracle Support' (MOS):

You can read more the issues here:
The more interesting fact, though, is that their entire new support system is implemented in Adobe Flex. Unfortunately, I was unable to find more technical details via Google, but that is a fairly substantial deployment.

I found another interesting little piece of information on stackoverflow:

According to James Ward (Flex evangelist at Adobe), Oracle showed more Flex-based applications this year at Oracle OpenWorld 2009 including: My Oracle Support, Social CRM, Siebel Gadgets and Enterprise Manager.

Can you draw any conclusions out of this regarding the future of JavaFX? Probably (hopefully) not, but it shows that Oracle has already made a significant investment into Adobe Flex. 

Adobe Flex and JavaFX in Atlanta

To give you some idea of how the market looks like here in Atlanta, Ga:

At the last meeting of the Atlanta Java Users Group (November 2009), Burr Sutter our group's president asked the group (80+ attendees) whether they use Adobe Flex and a considerable amount of hands went up (I guess at least 1/3).  Nobody in the rooms did anything with JavaFX...

* * * *

PS: On a more frustrating side-note: While writing this blog post I visited and my browsers froze (FF on Mac), causing me to re-type a good portion of my blog entry (Sigh). 


Giorgio Ferrara said...

I'm not surprised to read about Oracle's choice. Let's say it: JavaFX still lacks some basic features to be considered the platform of choice for enterprise RIA. No components comparable to Flex's datagrid for example, no thin virtual machine to run on... Despite the demos on javafx site, what else?

Gunnar Hillert said...

Thanks for the comment! Interesting is also that JDK 7 got delayed until the second half of next year. My understanding was it that Sun tried to get JDK 7 out of the door in order to have the modularization in place for JavaFX. Could that indicate a shift in focus away from JavaFX?

tbee said...

I think these Oracle projects were started before the Sun deal, so using JFX was totally not an option then. Furthermore JFX IMHO has some plus points over Flex and competition. And especially since not too many RIAs have been written (aside from Google using DHTML), it can still catch one.

Giorgio Ferrara said...

@tbee: I agree with you about both the start of Oracle's projects before Sun deal and the fact that JavaFX now has some plus points over Flex (i.e. fastest VM, convergence between web solution aka applets and stand-alone solution aka java web start).
But from my point of view (I'm a web developer and I'm focused on RIAs) today JavaFx is not complete for building the client side of an enterprise-class solution: still too few controls, for example. Lack of communities that develop third party controls to use. That means that developers have no choice but to build their own by themselves. So I would build my datagrid and another one would build his own... I've no time to dedicate to these tasks. I need a framework... like Flex.

@Gunnar: I personally think that that delay is not a good sign for JavaFX. (Meanwile Adobe is getting out Flex 4.0 and AIR 2.0, that show big improvements over previous versions). So... if I wanted to use a JavaFX with a smaller, modular JVM and with (hopefully) some more controls, I have to wait until the second half of 2010 (i.e. about 1 year)? Well... I hope Sun will come out with a spectacular JavaFX, but in the meantime I (and maybe other RIA developers like me) will use Flex. Also I think that for Sun it will be harder and harder to catch up with Adobe in the RIA field.