Oracle, which has expressed its support of the JavaFX multimedia software platform as far back as three years ago, when the company announced plans to buy Sun Microsystems, is making another move to satisfy skeptics by hiring two evangelists to trumpet the technology. But Oracle’s push could prove too little too late for the Java-based JavaFX platform to dominate.
JavaFX was launched by Sun in 2007 as a Java-based technology for building rich media applications. Since then, technologies ranging from HTML5 to Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash to Apple iOS have overshadowed JavaFX as mechanisms enabling graphically oriented, whiz-bang applications. The takeover of Sun by Oracle raised questions on what would happen with JavaFX. But Oracle released JavaFX 2.0 last fall and has plotted plans for JavaFX 3.0, eyed for a summer 2013 release and billed as a next-generation Java client.
On Monday, Oracle took its commitment a step further, introducing two advocates for the technology as Oracle employees. "As of April 2, two recognized JavaFX technology luminaries and ‘rock star’ speakers from the Java community are joining Oracle on a new journey. We’re proud to have both Jim Weaver and Stephen Chin joining Oracle’s Java Evangelist Team. You’ll start to see them involved in many community-facing activities where their JavaFX expertise and passion will shine. Stay tuned!" said Sharat Chander, Oracle director of Java technology outreach, in the Java Source blog. (Oracle did not respond to a request for more information about the two new evangelists.)
The hirings help show Oracle’s commitment to JavaFX, says analyst Al Hilwa. "Oracle has outlined a wise approach to evolving the JavaFX technology that retains its key benefits to Java, namely adding richer UI capabilities to the language while doing away with some of its detractions such as the scripting language. I like the way it is being evolved, it delivers better value to the community. Prior to this shift in strategy in 2011, JavaFX and its scripting language were seen as adding unnecessary complexity in a world where plug-ins are giving way to HTML5 strategically for many types of uses."
Oracle has shown JavaFX running on an Apple iOS device, proving Oracle is undaunted by Apple’s firm resistance to Java on iOS. JavaFX has been deployed on Google’s Android platform, too. But how much usage JavaFX can get remains a question mark. Even Hilwa, while lacking specific numbers, says JavaFX itself is not widely used compared to HTML5, Silverlight, Flash, or even Java itself — and this is several years after the technology was unveiled. JavaFX is likely to maintain a devoted following of developers, but it won’t vie with HTML5, which is already taking a toll on Silverlight and Flash. JavaFX’s time to dominate may be over before it ever begins.