Oracle should cannibalize JavaFX Frankenstein

Time to get Swinging


Comment One of the survivors of Oracle's mammoth takeover of Sun Microsystems is JavaFX, the Flex wannabe and illegitimate son of Swing.

The biggest coup for JavaFX three years after its unveiling at JavaOne is its integration into Vancouver2010.com, in a spinning-wheel app that shows countries' medal counts dating back to 1924. It's a nice use of data visualisation, a cross between tag clouds and a time-traveling version of Risk. But oh my word, the jaggedness of the text. Don't these people know that Java can do antialiasing very nicely? Even the "Powered by JavaFX" logo has embarrassing color bleed.

The Winter Olympics app is a rare moment of fame for JavaFX, in an otherwise bleak and underperforming history. The brazenness of JavaFX.com suggests otherwise. It's all flashing lights and bold headlines, as if the marketing team are standing around Frankenstein's corpse sending shockwaves of electricity into it and insisting: "Look! Look! It lives! No, really, it does!"

JavaFX unfortunately failed because it was too little, too late. And yet Oracle has chosen to keep JavaFX going, in an attempt to invigorate its stillborn corpse. One wonders why.

Granted, there are things to like about JavaFX. The MediaBox component lets you very easily set up a streaming video in your web page. Just the following bit of code will do it:

var media = "http://sun.edgeboss.net/download/sun/media/1460825906/1460825906_11810873001_09c01923-00.flv";
var mediaBox = MediaBox {
    mediaSource: media
}

And then put it on your stage:

Stage {
    title: "MediaBox Player"
    scene: Scene {
        content: mediaBox
    }
}

This example, a live sample from their website, will play an excerpt from Big Buck Bunny - or any .flv file you happen to point it to, of course. The team has evidently taken on board the need for JavaFX to "just work", with a minimum of Daffy Duck-ing about. However, "just work" is exactly what this example didn't do in practice. With very little coaxing, the MediaPlayer locked-up with this impressive Windows Solitaire impression you see below.

My net connection was fine, but as soon as I scrolled the page a little bit, the picture went from Big Buck Bunny bouncing in the warm sunshine to an epic freeze, from which it never recovered. I'm not sure how exactly this will convince web designers to switch from the cosy safety-in-numbers (and stability) of their Flash players.

Next page: Missing mojo

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