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05 December 2008, 08:32

JavaFX - A new hope for desktop Java?

Dj Walker-Morgan

Java has become almost ubiquitous, wether it's in the server room or in a mobile phone. Where Java has failed to take hold though is, ironically, the place it was originally aimed at, the web enabled desktop. Despite reworking the GUI toolkit completely with Swing, speeding up Java code and coming up with new distribution systems like WebStart, Java was still not making the impact on the desktop that its creators envisioned.

It was with that in mind that JavaFX was announced over a year ago, to a resounding "So what?" from many developers. But now JavaFX has launched, it is worth looking at the combination of development initiatives that make up what could well be a crucial moment in Java's development.

The Netbeans JavaFX development environment
Zoom The Netbeans JavaFX development environment
There's two major parts to JavaFX, the development environment and the runtime environment. Each builds on what has previously existed in the Java ecosystem. The development environment has its own language, JavaFX Script, but it still compiles to Java class files. The runtime environment is still based around the Java virtual machine and works with most browsers, but it has had numerous improvements applied to it in the last year, making it a different proposition to the Java Runtime Environment of old.

Over the next pages, we'll have a look at JavaFX Script by constructing a simple program, and then examine the changes which are designed to make deploying JavaFX, and Java, simpler and quicker.

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