JavaFX – Time To Dazzle!

Background

Welcome!

It may seem unusual to discuss a specific technology such as JavaFX as the first post on Dazzle Zone but I am doing so because I would like to make sure everyone is aware of recent developments in the planned future of JavaFX and why JavaFX is the toolkit I have chosen to use for all code samples and demos that will be in future posts.

The About page describes the purpose and goals of the Dazzle Zone blog.

News

Here’s a link to the official announcement from Oracle regarding the future of JavaFX and its place in the Java ecosystem: The Future Of JavaFX

So, in summary, as of the release of Java 11, JavaFX will no longer be part of the JDK itself. This may at first seem like the “last nail in the coffin” for JavaFX but, in fact, I believe it’s the best thing that could possibly have happened.

Why? Well, Oracle are very much positioning themselves as an “enterprise” or “cloud” solutions company and a graphics toolkit like JavaFX simply doesn’t really have any role to play in that strategy and, given that it generates little or no revenue for them, it was inevitable that the ever-shrinking team of JavaFX developers at Oracle would be “let go”.  The already limited budget that Oracle had allocated to maintain or enhance JavaFX could not be justified and for quite some time these financial constraints actually stifled the evolution and advancement of JavaFX.

Now, it is as though JavaFX has been set free.  Free from any restraints & shackles, not held back by bureaucracy, JavaFX is now more accessible to the extremely vibrant, passionate and talented community which will enable true innovation.

The Community

Although there doesn’t appear to be an enormous number of JavaFX applications out there in the marketplace, it is certainly used in-house in many corporations across the globe.  Additionally, there are some true “rock stars” out there who basically “bleed” JavaFX like Gerrit Grunwald, Johan Vos, Chris Newland, Dirk Lemmermann, Almas Baimagambetov & even someone who is developing software so advanced that NASA could use it, namely Sean Phillips.

One man really stands out though for his incredible recent contributions and that is Laurent Bourgès whose MarlinFX contribution to JavaFX considerably improved performance and was a massive undertaking for an unpaid individual.  We need more people like Laurent!

And there are many others who just love JavaFX and want it to not just survive but to thrive. People like myself for example 🙂

The Future

Though not absolutely vital for JavaFX to succeed, it would be ideal if a cashed-up corporation took over stewardship of JavaFX. There are many contenders including Apache Software Foundation, Eclipse Foundation, IBM or even a smaller business like Gluon who have already done some absolutely amazing things with JavaFX on mobile platforms and sustaining such vital tools as Scene Builder.

And, yes, even Microsoft.

No, it’s not April Fool’s Day.  Often perceived as the arch enemy of Java and rather “platform selfish” (i.e. any OS is fine as long as it’s a flavour of Windows), Microsoft are releasing their own version of Linux!  I guess that old saying “Never say never” still holds true.  Now, if there were some way to confirm that perhaps Hell has frozen over, JavaFX would be an excellent investment for Microsoft.  Indeed, Jonathan Giles, one of the most prominent former members of the Oracle JavaFX team who is responsible for much of the design of the excellent JavaFX controls has recently joined Microsoft to work on enhancing Azure support for Java.

Jonathan wrote this article on his post-Oracle views on JavaFX.  The key take-aways from his article are his quote “The King is dead. Long live the King!” and that he mentions that a large amount of work has already been done to facilitate easier involvement in the OpenJFX project including setting-up a GitHub mirror and a number of other important actions.

He also comments on his coworkers and it is certainly true that over the years there have been some extraordinarily talented developers working on the JavaFX team and I personally would like to thank them all for their wonderful efforts and to wish them well for their future endeavours.

Conclusion

So, despite what I initially viewed as bad news, I am now invigorated and full of excitement for the future of JavaFX.  I had already selected JavaFX as the technology for code samples for Dazzle Zone prior to Oracle’s announcement but now I am even more confident that I have made the correct choice.

From now on, Dazzle Zone will release a series of posts, each one addressing one or more aspects of UI or UX and often accompanied with demos and code samples that are free to be used for any purpose by anyone.

I personally hope to manage my own time so that I achieve a balance of family, working my “day job”, blogging on Dazzle Zone and I also really hope to make some significant contributions to OpenJFX myself.

Graciously,

John-Val Rose

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