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Category Archives: Events

Ok, here’s a quick game! Let’s spot software releases which happened in the first days of December, 2008.

1. WordPress 2.7 –http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2008/12/05/new-dashboard-design/

2. Python 3.0 – http://www.python.org/download/releases/3.0/

3. JavaFX 1.0 – http://www.sun.com/aboutsun/pr/2008-12/sunflash.20081204.1.xml

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Over the last few years, I have very consciously shifted away from web interfaces into what most people call the back-end: systems, databases etc. I had grown tired of browser incompatibilities and unpredictability! You may find trouble in server-side land, too, but, in most cases, you’ve done something wrong and there is a perfectly reasonable, rational (and sometimes obscure) explanation waiting to be discovered.

So, I am completely out-of-touch with recent UI advances, as simple CSS + Javascript pages and extensive Perl-Tk and pygtk coding probably don’t count as UI advances for most people. And I tend to code things the hard way: ViM

Now, Java is trying to re-enter the RIA arena with JavaFX and reclaim some rich UI tech real-estate from frameworks such as Adobe Flex and Microsoft Silverlight. And thanks to Peter Pilgrim and Skills Matter, I have just had a very interesting introduction to the history, concepts and potential of JavaFX.

Now, Chris Oliver, the guy who started F3, which has now developed into JavaFX, sounds exactly like my kind of guy: Form-Follows-Function, list comprehensions, SQL influences, declarative stuff. Pre-compiled UI definitions running on top of the JVM… Imagine, if you like, writing something like JavaScript, with syntactical goodies derived from Lisp and SQL, including UI element binds and definable triggers, which may execute any arbitrary Java code. Now, for me, this puts fun back into computing (and Java, which often is the C++ of our times). It’s not quite stable yet, but there should be a Preview release coming out end of this week from Sun Microsystems.

Now, I don’t think I am making this appealing to the majority of RIA developers. They usually think: timelines, SceneGraphs, rich media, GUIs, WYSIWYG, ActionScript etc. JavaFX, of course, has been developed to handle such concerns.

But to me, it seems like JavaFX might turn out to be the framework of choice for people who hate coding for UIs (but love coding in general), people who want them to be easy and fun, yet very powerful. I am, probably, one of the very few people who write Java in vi. Projects like Ant have made this possible.

If JavaFX matures in the current direction, it looks like I might be able to get away with designing rich UIs in vi, too. And before any of you start screaming: we don’t care about writing Java UIs using vi, may I simply point out: isn’t this the most convincing argument for the promised power of JavaFX? – they must be doing something right!