Coach Wei's Blog

(May 8, 2007) - Quite a few people are asking me what I think of Sun's JavaFX announcement. It is funny and we saw this coming - Who wouldn't anticipate Sun to make some big announcement at JavaOne? People were predicting the announcement is going to be "open sourcing Java" - Oh, no, that was last year :-)

It is quite amazing that rich internet application is suddenly getting so much attention. Adobe has been pushing Flash as a platform. Microsoft is pushing .NET via Silverlight, and now  Sun is positioning the Java Platform for RIA via this JavaFX announcement. Of course, we all know the Ajax Wildfire.

All of these establish that RIA is the next generation application paradigm. Over the last 20 months,  press has been dominated by Ajax and Flash. Microsoft’s Silverlight announcement tells the world not to ignore .NET. Java pioneered rich web applications years ago, and this JavaFX announcement firmly reinvigorates Java as a platform of choice for RIA.

It is clear that the RIA technology landscape is going to be heterogeneous with four technologies: Ajax, Java, .Flash and .NET. Each of them has its own strength and weakness. No single technology is going to be able to dominate the entire world. Being a single technology shop, eg.100% Ajax shop or 100% .NET,  is going to be an exception rather than the norm.  Different customers, or different applications within the same customer environment, or even different parts of the same application, will and should choose appropriate technologies among Ajax, Java, Flash or .NET, depending on requirements and skill sets, etc.

BTW: I wrote on this subject in a few lengthy articles a year ago. See:

Given that Nexaweb was recognized as a company in the RIA space, some people asked me what this means to Nexaweb.

At Nexaweb, we are excited about where the industry is heading to and where we are.

Nexaweb developed its Universal Client Framework (UCF) precisely for the reason that we realized Ajax, Java, Flash and .NET are going to co-exist as technologies for RIA. Instead of being a pure Ajax framework, Nexaweb UCF supports Ajax, Java, Flash and .NET. With Nexaweb UCF, customers can use a combination of Ajax, Java or Flash to build and deploy applications, all in a coherent and well design model and with unified visual tooling. The capability for customers to mix and match Java, Ajax and Flash etc in a fully integrated and coherent  methodology for different applications, or within the same application, gives customers great flexibility as well as incredible productivity increase.

I think of Nexaweb UCF as an “RIA assembly platform” that enables customers to assemble rich internet applications using a variety of technologies (Ajax, Java, Flash etc) and connect to enterprise data and business processes via SOA – with unified methodology and visual tooling. The JavaFX announcement just reinforces this positioning and the need for RIA assembly platform …

So from the above, I applaud the JavaFX announcement.

Finally, I will summarize my thoughts on what this means, in particular, what it means to customers, here:

  • JavaFX reinvigorates Java as a technology of choice for building RIA;
  • There are clearly four main technology platforms for RIA: Ajax, Java, .NET (Silverlight) and Flash
  • As the RIA and Enterprise Web 2.0 market matures, client technology heterogeneity is going to be the norm rather than exceptions. Different technologies have different strength and weakness. No single technology is going to dominate the world.
  • Customers should not be locked into one single technology like Ajax or Flash. They should pick appropriate ones from Java, Ajax, Flash and .NET for their projects, according to a variety of considerations such as application requirements, skill sets, tooling, etc.
  • Customers should establish enterprise web 2.0 reference architecture to help guide rich internet application and enterprise SOA initiatives.
From Nexaweb's perspective, here is how I see it:
  • At Nexaweb, We saw this emergence of heterogeneous client-side technologies as the norm, and that is rationale behind our Universal client Framework.
  • With UCF, we give customers a platform to pick the right technologies for their projects– whether it’s Java, AJAX, Flash, Swing, or a combination, all with a coherent methodology and integrated visual tooling;
  • As an “RIA assembly platform”, Nexaweb UCF enables customers to assemble enterprise RIA solutions using a combination of Ajax, Flash, Java etc, choosing UI widgets and components from a variety of vendors, based on requirements and skill sets, again, all within a coherent methodology and unified visual tooling.
  • More than 5,000 customers have deployed Nexaweb-powered applications over the web as well as desktop offline computing. Some of them use Java. Some of them use Ajax. Some of them use a combination of Java, Ajax and Flash within the same application. Some of them actually also using Nexaweb Desktop Client to do offline computing. A recent example of using Nexaweb UCF to do both online and offline computing is Aflac (see press release JRI Solutions to Collaborate with Nexaweb Japan on Web Platform Solutions