Developer

Java's client-side defibrillator

Despite the many pundits over the years who were ready to carry Java out to the cart via the enterprise backend, there was Sun stubbornly saying it still wanted "to go for a walk".

Do you remember the "Bring out your dead" scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail? The undertaker is collecting plague victims when a customer appears carrying a corpse. Just before it is is placed on the undertaker's wagon the corpse says "I'm not dead yet". (No idea? Then check out: http://youtube.com/watch?v=kuvB7j9n-II)

The reason I bring up all this imagery is that, for a long time, it is the scene that has sprung to mind whenever talk turned to Java. Despite the many pundits over the years who were ready to carry it out to the cart via the enterprise backend, there was Sun stubbornly saying Java still wanted "to go for a walk".

So it was with slightly stunned surprise that the news of JavaFX, an all new, all singing, all dancing, all eye candy extension to Java, was received. And I don't think I was the only one here at the JavaOne Conference in San Francisco who felt that way.

Suddenly the battleground for the "RIA Platform Wars" — that's what Builder AU has decided to call it — appears set. Adobe is coming in armed with some Flash, Flex and Apollo weaponry, Microsoft is relying on Silverlight to see it to victory, and Sun is packing heat via JavaFX and a large mobile Java install base.

The contrasting strategies make for an intriguing future. Adobe comes from the world of creative and are attempting to create a developer environment to couple with it; Microsoft is relying on their partners to push out Silverlight rather than leveraging their desktop advantage; and Sun is trying to attract creative professionals to supplement its developer base — almost a reverse of Adobe.

What makes it even more interesting is that the focus on the desktop may be for naught. Adobe plans Apollo implementations on smaller devices, Microsoft has shown Silverlight on a Windows CE device and Sun's keynote focus was on a Java Phone equipped with an iPhone like JavaFX interface. In the final wash up, this battle may not be decided by what you install at home or work, but by what phone purchase you make in the future.

It's certainly been an interesting two weeks, what will next week bring?

About Chris Duckett

Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan.During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic advent...

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