JavaFX is Sun’s new  competitor for Flash. In the same way as Flash, it’s a plugin for your browser that lets you  do things that you couldn’t do with plain old HTML. So do we care? Silverlight, the equivalent offering from Microsoft, has yet to make any serious inroads, and it’s already been around a couple of years. It’s the classic chicken and egg problem: There aren’t many apps being developed for Silverlight because not many people have the plugin installed, and nobody bothers to install the plugin because there aren’t many websites that use it. So the first reaction would be to dismiss it as another doomed project.

But wait, this is Sun! You may not remember, but 10 years ago, they were the first RIA game in town. They used Java applets. My recollection of these is that if ever I went to a site built with them, my computer would grind to a halt while waiting for everything to load. As I understand the developer experience was terrible too. If Sun is coming out with something new, maybe they know what they’re doing! Of course, just being Sun gives them some serious credibility and clout.

So let’s not just dismiss it then. Is this good news or bad news? Flash is proprietary and is currently more or less a monopoly.  Silverlight might give Adobe a run for it’s money in the field, and now Sun is giving it a shot too. This will push Adobe to Do The Right Thing (TM): keep on developing Flash, working on cross-platform compatibility and with the community, and maybe (gasp!) one day releasing the source under some kind of open source license. With the economic situation and the layoffs going on right now at Adobe, this actually seems like a less remote possibility than a couple of years ago when Adobe had no incentive to do this whatsoever. So the ideal situation from my point of view would be that JavaFX has enough success to make a difference, but not enough to create a situation where you have to develop for them and Flash.

Here’s to JavaFX!

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