JavaOne 2010: JavaFX Graphics

In late July, I publicly wondered how much time I should spend on JavaFX at JavaOne 2010. JavaFX was the big announcement at 2007 JavaOne and dominated 2008 JavaOne and had numerous sessions in 2009 JavaOne, but it wasn’t clear to me that JavaFX’s future was worth missing other subjects to attend sessions on JavaFX. I knew the other subjects would be viable in the future, but wasn’t so sure about JavaFX. The JavaOne 2010 Opening Keynote changed all that. Not only did they talk big game about JavaFX’s future (which has been the refrain from the past three JavaOne conferences), but as (or more) importantly, they described their vision for it in a way that, for the first time in a long time, I think gives it a reasonable opportunity for long-term success and widespread adoption. With that in mind, it is not surprising that Jim Graham’s and Kevin Rushforth‘s presentation “JavaFX Graphics” was fairly well attended.

JavaFX uses the Scene Graph Model for its graphics support. The scene graph consists of a hierarchy of group and leaf nodes. It makes media directly accessible and easy to add to applications with minimal effort.

The speakers stated that some JavaFX capabilities that would get less attention from them in this presentation are SVG paths, Media (sound and video), UI controls, Input, 3D cameras, and charts.

Prism is a new graphics stack, but is at implementation level (implements SceneGraph at rendering level), but is invisible to the developer. Its main reason for use is performance, but it does provide 3D. Prism will be default renderer in the next release, Although it is expected that most machines will have graphic cards to support Prism by the time it is released, software support and Swing Toolkit will be retained for those machines that don’t have graphics cards supporting Prism. This release is expected sometime in 2011. The JavaFX developer sees JavaFX UI Controls and JavaFX Scene Graph API, but does not need to deal with Swing Toolkit, Java 2D, or other implementaton-specific APIs.

The presenters showed numerous effects examples with source code. Not surprisingly, most of their slides were written using JavaFX Script because they were created before the official announcement of JavaFX Script’s deprecation. Also, the presenters stated that JavaFX Script uses fewer lines of code, so it was better suited for fitting onto slides. Finally, there are some features JavaFX Script provides that still need to be incorporated into Java as convenience methods.

Some of the main topics covered in this presentation were applying effects and animation. The speakers covered adding 3D perspective transforms. We won’t see all 3D transforms in the next release of JavaFX, but the rest should come in the next version after that.

The audience seemed genuinely interested in JavaFX. Questions were repeatedly asked and answered regarding whether these examples demonstrated will be doable in standard Java. Repeatedly the answer was that JavaFX Script is deprecated and these functions will be available via standard Java. I believe this gives JavaFX the best chance for long-term success and widespread adoption, especially if other improvements to the Java language make it less verbose. If all Java developers can easily access JavaFX APIs and the books, articles, and blogs all indicate how to use these APIs without specific JavaFX Script, its widespread adoption should be much greater. I think the vision is there. The question, as in the past three JavaOne conferences, is how quickly it can be delivered.
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