Sun introduces multimedia scripting language

San Francisco ' Sun Microsystems Inc. is introducing a scripting language for authoring multimedia-rich Web sites, the company announced at the JavaOne conference being held this week.

Although the Web development world is already awash in scripting languages, as Sun chief technology officer James Gosling noted during the opening presentation, the new language, JavaFX, is targeted to multimedia Web developers. That market is now dominated by Adobe Flash.

JavaFX will allow developers to build multimedia-heavy Web sites more easily than they could by using Java alone, said Rich Green, Sun vice president of software. Although the company has long offered this capability through Java Applets, Green explained that the company had heard many complaints about the complexity of deploying Java, noting that while the language is flexible it is also burdensome for the Web. 'We can do it with Java, it just takes a long time,' he summed up the concerns the company received from developers.

The idea behind JavaFX is to offer a simple set of interfaces that would allow Web developers to harness the power of the wide range of Java libraries, particularly Java Swing and Java 2D, said Chris Oliver, one of the Sun developers behind JavaFX. By doing so, developers could create interactive buttons, sliders and special effects in far fewer number of lines than they could using Java alone.

Nandini Ramani, a member of the JavaFX development team, showed how developers could give an image multiple interactive capabilities, such as the ability to mutate into another image, or dynamically move about. Moreover the image can be replicated many times, allowing the developer to give all instances of that image similar capabilities or give each image only a subset of capabilities.

JavaFX scripts can run on any machine installed with the Java Standard Edition, which is deployed on most user desktops today. It can also be used on portable devices, allowing developers to create one Web application for multiple platforms.

In addition to the scripting language itself, Sun will also offer JavaFX Mobile, a platform for mobile devices such as smart phones and personal digital assistants. This unified set of Java tools can run over Linux or other portable operating systems, allowing vendors to write a single set of applications that can run across a variety of mobile devices, said Robert Brewin, the Sun CTO for software.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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