Tuesday Dec 22, 2009

JavaFX Amps Up Social Networking Products At LodgON


Reviews Interactive recently spoke with Wim De Munck and Johan Vos of LodgON discussing how the company is using JavaFX to deliver social networking products and services to clients. Both Wim and Johan were early Java pioneers who became interested in JavaFX technology when it was first announced as a Java-based RIA development tool at the JavaOne 2007 keynote address. They were pleased to find that JavaFX has benefits on both the development side and for the application's end-user. As Johan said: “For our developers, JavaFX is a relief since the write-once run-anywhere paradigm now holds for Web development as well,” and pointed out that the end user equally benefits, of course, “from the fact that a more attractive user interface can now be offered.”

LodgON uses Java end-to-end in its application development, and Johan said he has found using JavaFX to be critical to both the front-end and the back-end development. As he stated, “In social networking software, the interactions between users are very important; they provide part of the real value of a project,” and pointed out that “the JavaFX HttpRequest in combination with the Jersey RESTimplementation in the Glassfish back-end allows for a high number of small requests.” Additionally, Johan reported that with JavaFX, LodgON has experienced “a dramatic reduction of the development time,” which he said saves the company from losing time “writing dirty hacks in JavaScript/CSS for each different browser.”


LodgON




Johan said the primary advantage JavaFX offers a Java developer “is the ability to use the familiar Java APIs in the JavaFX code.” And while LodgON also does projects in Flex, Johan said there is no mistaking the fact that the ability to use the Java Syntax in JavaFX “allows for a really fast development.” As an added bonus, Wim said “customers really like the 'application style' of the projects we do with JavaFX.” He listed highlights his customers have pointed to with the employment of JavaFX including “the ability to drag the JavaFX application out of the browser window, close the browser and still continue working with the JavaFX application.”

Johan also reported that LodgON is actively working on proof-of-concepts in a mapping software component for opening up JavaFX to Location Based Services as well as an OSGi service browser written in JavaFX that can handle both OSGi bundles in addition to JavaFX apps. As to what he hopes the future holds with JavaFX, Johan said that having a component that allows LodgON to edit HTML “would allow us to port even more applications to JavaFX.” LodgON is clearly dedicated to learning and sharing more about JavaFX, and has just created a new section on the company's Web site where it profiles a sample of its JavaFX applications.

To read more about how LodgON is using JavaFX and what other benefits it has realized from its implementation of the technology, check out the full interview transcript here.

Tuesday Dec 15, 2009

Matthew Hegarty, October winner of the JFXStudio Challenge, talks about JavaFX technology


Reviews Interactive recently spoke with the October winner of the JFXStudio Challenge, Matthew Hegarty, creator of the JavaFX Video Poker game, which was written with a total of just 2,994 characters. A long-time Java programmer, Matt started using JavaFX about two years ago, and has relied primarily on online resources to learn the language, following examples posted on various blogs. However, in a sentiment common to the developer world, Matt states that “the most effective way of learning is to actually use the language, which is partly why I've been taking part in the JFXStudio challenges.”

Matt's idea for the Video Poker game came after hearing Dick Wall of the Java Posse mention a poker game while discussing the challenge. Even though Matt thought “it's too obvious,” he forged ahead with development. The approach Matt took was to write the code normally, and to aim for no more than 4,500 characters, confident he could cut it from there. Once he developed a final cut, he had to remove whitespace, and cut down variable names. However, when he found he was still 100 characters over he said “I had to try to shave off extra characters where I could – this involved removing extraneous semi-colons, re-using strings where I could and even swapping declarations of MountEvent for FXBase because it had a shorter name!”

Matt admits there were a few sacrifices he had to make in creating the game – mainly cutting out animations for the cards – but said, “mostly by sticking to a simple idea I was able to keep the core of the game there.” Besides the Video Poker game, Matt has used JavaFX in other application development to include a previous entry into a JFXStudio challenge called Reaction Time task, while another is an educational application called PsyKit – a face recognition task – for students of psychology.
Matthew Hegarty
Matthew Hegarty

When discussing JavaFX Matt said: “Once you get used to the style of the language you can create applications very quickly,” stating that it makes it easy and quick to translate an idea into “something working on screen, and that really keeps programming fun.” Matt was able to get the basics of his Video Poker game going in only a couple of hours, which he said was the result of “the more you use it [JavaFX], the more efficient you become.”

Read the written Q&A with Matt here.

Wednesday Dec 09, 2009

JavaFX helps WhiteStone create the “wow” factor


Reviews Interactive recently spoke with José Rubi-Gonzalo from WhiteStone Technology about how the company is currently using JavaFX in the Workflow component of its Consolidated Service Desk and IT Service Management product. Specifically, WhiteStone utilized JavaFX to create an intuitive tool with a rich set of functionalities that allows users to create complex business processes using a visual approach. José points out that “UI design is key for a successful application,” and noted that JavaFX has helped WhiteStone differentiate from other competitors in the service desk industry by giving them the capabilities to create a visually rich UI that not only helps users be more comfortable, but productive as well.

José said the JavaFX technology was announced at a time when the WhiteStone was already looking to update its Workflow tool which José said “needed to evolve,” to add more functionality without limiting growth. He said the technology “matched exactly our needs – a Java based language that fit nicely into our existing J2EE framework, multi-platform, and multi-screen.” José said there was a very fast adoption of the technology by the development team noting: “JavaFX is very easy to pick up for Java developers so our team was writing code on JavaFX in no time.”

WhiteStone Technology


José said a simple integration process was another key factor in selecting JavaFX because WhiteStone needed to protect its past technology investments. However, since the original application was developed on J2EE, José said introducing JavaFX was “straightforward.” José said WhiteStone is now able to deliver more features on a faster timeline “because our development capability has grown very significantly with the technology change.” When asked about what he liked most about using JavaFX in the service desk application José responded: “For me, personally, is the peace of mind that JavaFX gives me, because I know we have the ability to maintain and grow our application with the level of quality interaction and visual design that our users expect.”

Looking to the future, José said the company is looking to continue incorporating JavaFX into the rest of the service desk application while also exploring the potential of using JavaFX for a mobile platform to extend the capabilities of field service users. WhiteStone is also working on deploying a system with a software UI developed entirely in JavaFX for one of the leading hospitals in Spain, that will help increase quality of life for patients. As José pointed out, when starting work on this new project “we knew we could not just write another web interface...with JavaFX we had the capacity to produce the application we envision, mixing an innovative interactive design with great visual capabilities.”

To learn more about WhiteStone's experience with JavaFX, read the full interview here.

Wednesday Dec 02, 2009

JavaFX enables Ubivent to develop customized virtual event platform


Reviews Interactive recently spoke with Jens Arndt from Ubivent, 'Europe's leading virtual event specialist.' Ubivent both designs and conducts customized virtual events, and has based its entire platform on JavaFX. The primary reason Ubivent selected JavaFX is because the technology allows developers to create customizable graphics controls and effects in the events platform, which is essential for Ubivent customers who are utilizing virtual events as a marketing instrument, and need to ensure that all events fit corporate design guidelines.

Jens said that JavaFX makes the UI easier to customize and configure in many ways, by allowing the 3D architecture to change for each event, without having to alter the general design. As he pointed out, with JavaFX: “All of the UI is configured using XML files which are synchronized between the servers and the clients using our proprietary protocol. We then bind our DOM directly to the UI elements and so we can push updates instantly to running clients.” Jens said this has allowed Ubivent to create a much simpler process then what could be achieved with other programming languages and platforms.
Ubivent

Beyond the freedom in design JavaFX provides, Jens pointed out that “from our perspective, the most critical element is the fact that JavaFX is a powerful programming language, which makes developments really easy.” He went on to state that the clear structure of JavaFX “allows us to achieve a high degree of code re-usability within our projects,” while also allowing developers to use already established debugging tools. These details, along with the binding for UI components and overall integration with existing Java code, have helped Ubivent to improve “day-to-day efficiency in developing our platform.”

In looking to the future, Ubivent plans to leverage the capabilities of JavaFX to develop a sophisticated “what-you-see-is-what-you-get-like” admin tool to allow customers to have even more flexibility in the set-up and administration of virtual events. Jens also reports that Ubivent is additionally looking to build an evaluation and reporting app for the platform, as the company moves towards building a complete user-friendly event infrastructure, saying: “JavaFX helps us attain this goal." He is looking forward to added features and functionalities in JavaFX including getting increased accessibility support, media capturing capability, and a fully functional password field, but said right now, "in general we're totally happy with JavaFX."

To read more about how Ubivent has integrated JavaFX in its virtual events platform, read the full interview here.

Monday Oct 26, 2009

JFXStudio 'Time' Challenge Winner talks JavaFX


Software architect Mark Nankman was the winner of the September JFXStudio challenge, which required developers to build an application with 30 or fewer lines of code in a single JavaFX file (30 lines as counted by actual lines, or 3,000 characters), with a 'time' theme. Mark's Pacman clock application took first place and caught the attention of many because of the creativity and complexity demonstrated within the small file. Mark has several years of experience in Java programming, and has recently turned his focus to Web 2.0 and RIA development, which is how he became interested in JavaFX. He said he used to develop Adobe Flex front-ends to interact with Java back-ends, but didn't like the fact that it required 3 programming languages! Turning to JavaFX Mark found that the programming language "makes developing maintainable rich web applications a lot easier."

Mark began using JavaFX in October of 2008, and said that he relied primarily on online tutorials to learn the programming language. Among the top sites he utilized are: JavaFX.com, JFXStudio, and Jim Weaver's JavaFXpert blog. When learning JavaFX, Mark set himself a goal to build a complete application, which resulted in his TweetBox Twitter client. To build the application Mark enlisted the help of the JFXtras site as well as the advice of other JavaFX developers. The project is open sourced and Mark is actively looking for other developers to join the project, so be sure to contact him if you are interested!

When discussing Mark's winning Pacman clock application, he noted that it was relatively easy to build, and said he had a functioning product within 30 minutes of starting, stating that with JavaFX “you can do a lot with just a little code.” Mark said he needed to use just a few simple manipulations to keep the code within the 30-line limit, such as using compact SVGPaths, along with several other tricks he listed on his blog. Overall, Mark noted that he was “amazed at just how powerful JavaFX is.” He reported only having to sacrifice one feature in his application – the ability to dynamically resize the clock – which he said simply couldn't be crammed into the 30-line application.

Mark Nankman
Mark Nankman


Mark said his favorite feature with JavaFX is "the fact that all three dimensions of the MVC model can (and must) be programmed and specified in the same, clean language." Mark has already been hard at work on his entry for the October JFXStudio challenge, which has the same 30-line, 3000-character size constraints, with the theme 'five.' For this challenge Mark developed and published a Mayan calculator, based on their ancient counting system, which can be found here. He noted that when developing this application facing the same constraints as last month's challenge he was "yet again amazed by how much you can do with just a few lines of code" in JavaFX.

Read the written Q&A with Mark here.


Thursday Oct 01, 2009

Interview with JavaFX Developer Dean Iverson


Reviews Interactive recently had a conversation with JavaFX developer Dean Iverson. Dean has been writing software professionally for more than 15 years and is one of the co-authors of the recently released Pro JavaFX Platform book,. He is currently employed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute where he is a senior researcher and rich client application developer. He also has a small software consultancy called Pleasing Software Solutions which he co-founded with his wife.

Dean wrote his first lines of JavaFX code at JavaOne in 2007 and developed his first JavaFX application in the summer of 2008 on the preview SDK. With this preview SDK, Dean built a small Web service client for work that he reports “is still in use today.” Dean noted that at the time he was learning JavaFX, “the best source of information was compiler developers.” He subsequently got involved with the Pro JavaFX Platform book with co-authors Jim Weaver, Stephen Chin, and Weiqi Gao because “I loved the language and the runtime and wanted to help spread the word about this awesome new technology stack to a wider audience.”

When asked what he liked the most about JavaFX Dean had a lengthy list of favorites to include: the ability to bind to arbitrary expressions, the declarative syntax, the runtime's CSS-like syntax for styling applications, along with the ability to easily interface with Java code. Dean summed it up by saying: “Suffice it to say that JavaFX has a lot of advanced features, and for me personally it does all this in a way that makes sense. It fits my mind like a glove, so to speak.”
Dean Iverson
Dean Iverson

Dean actively uses JavaFX at work for small- to medium-sized Web service clients, which he said “is really the sweet spot for the technology at the moment.” Looking to the future Dean noted that “JavaFX's killer feature is being able to unify development for all of the devices we see today.” He said continued applet support for the mobile and TV is critical to ensuring people get the rich user experience they have come to expect these days and that “JavaFX has the potential to greatly simplify development in a world populated by such disparate computing platforms.”

Click here to read more of Dean's interview.

Monday Aug 24, 2009

Jonathan Giles on JavaFX


Reviews Interactive recently talked with Jonathan Giles, a JavaFX evangelist and software engineer from New Zealand who primarily builds enterprise applications and specializes in user interface/user experience development. Jonathan is a huge fan of Java, and is well-known among Java developers for publishing his 'Java desktop links of the week' on his blog. Jonathan, as a developer of enterprise software, approaches JavaFX with a different perspective, and looks to see the program utilized in various enterprise applications in the form of controls such as buttons, lists, menubars, tables, and trees.

Jonathan is a relatively new developer in the JavaFX environment, and only recently began working with the program after winning a trip to JavaOne in the “Dude, where's my pass?” contest. Jonathan reported that at JavaOne he was “brainwashed” by members of the JavaFX team when they showed him the work that had been done on controls. He stated: “I was pleasantly surprised and for the first time saw huge potential in JavaFX to be a player in the enterprise software arena, as well as in other areas...such as RIA.”

True to form, Jonathan reported that his favorite feature in the JavaFX 1.2 release is the new controls and the framework around them and noted “JavaFX 1.2 created a very good, clean foundation for future JavaFX releases to include new controls.” Jonathan just finished an early release of a JavaFX menubar control which “allows people to have the 'File' and other menus atop their applications,” and is now available in the JFXtras project.
Jonathan Giles
Jonathan Giles

As to the future of JavaFX, Jonathan said “I want to see the future of JavaFX continue its focus on building out controls,” which he said he would like to see followed up with an improved graphics stack and improved performance. He stated that once that happens a JavaFX application framework should be developed and made available. Jonathan believes if this happens JavaFX “will be at the point where it can be seriously considered and used by people wanting to build enterprise software.”

To read more of Jonathan's interview click here.

Tuesday Aug 18, 2009

Interview with JavaFX Developer Stephen Chin


Reviews Interactive recently spoke with JavaFX developer Stephen Chin, a prolific developer and blogger within the JavaFX community. Steve is one of the co-authors of the recently released Pro JavaFX Platform book, and was also named a JavaOne 2009 Rock Star for his WidgetFX session. Steve began working in JavaFX in May 2008, after being challenged by Sun's Josh Marinacci to write a program in JavaFX. The challenge turned into the development of WidgetFX, and has kept Steve “heavily involved with JavaFX,” ever since.

Steve recently launched a new JFXtras Community Site, which is an open resource and forum for the entire JavaFX community. Steve pulled together samples from multiple contributors across the JavaFX community under a commercial-friendly, open-source license. The samples are intended to help users learn and explore the language. The site also features additional JavaFX resources and documentation. Steve also continues to work with WidgetFX, a desktop widget framework for Java written entirely and JavaFX, as well as JFXtras, a component and add-on library for JavaFX.

In discussing the new JavaFX 1.2 release Steve said, “Java FX 1.2 is a huge step forward for the platform!” He stated that the Skinnable Controls, New Layout Classes, and Charting Support are, in his opinion, the most important new features in the release. When asked how JavaFX has changed the way developers create RIAs Steve said: “JavaFX takes the best of client technology with a rich scenegraph, elegant animation support, and built-in media playback, and combines this with web service access, designer skinning and tools, and full browser integration....for the first time, Java client and Web developers can join forces to build applications that are immersive, rather than tiered.”
Stephen Chin
Stephen Chin


Commenting on the future of JavaFX, Steve noted that all modern technology startups are required to demonstrate their technology working across a wide variety of mediums, which generally requires programming in 5 or 6 different languages with incompatible feature sets and code bases. Therefore, Steve believes “JavaFX brings the promise of write-once, run-anywhere to all of these screens, which will dramatically reduce time-to-market of innovative solutions, and unlock applications that we can't even dream of today.”

To read more of Steve's interview click here.

Monday Aug 10, 2009

Interview with Evgeni Sergeev, JavaFX Coding Challenge Third Prize Winner


Reviews Interactive recently talked with Evgeni Sergeev, developer of the ShiningEtherFX application that won third place in the JavaFX Coding Challenge. Evgeni is a student at the University of Western Australia, where he is working on an Honors project in computer vision, having recently earned degrees in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Computer and Mathematical Sciences. Evgeni just started learning JavaFX in May and commented on the short amount of time it took him to learn the program by noting “it's a fast learning process.” Evgeni taught himself JavaFX by using a number of different articles he found online, shown in the full interview below, as resources.

Evgeni said he found the combination of instance initializers and bind semantics in JavaFX to be the most useful aspect in creating his ShiningEtherFX application. He stated: “The binding concept is beautiful because you can have a UI element that is actually bound to the underlying model...it is actually bound, because as a programmer, you don't have to worry about refreshing the view or updating the model – there is no way it won't be updated or refreshed, given the JavaFX way of doing things.”

Evgeni explained how JavaFX made it easy to develop ShiningEtherFX with helpful features for the end user. For example, to make the workplace draggable Evgeni said “it only took five lines of code or therabouts,” saying “implementing that was a dream.” In general, Evgeni noted that JavaFX “makes it easy to take care of a lot of this sort of functionality that users nowadays expect to see everywhere,” noting that just because a user expects something, doesn't mean it is easier to write, and credits JavaFX with anticipating many common use cases.
Evgeni Sergeev
Evgeni Sergeev

As a developer, Evgeni said he appreciates that JavaFX “is not trying to be some kind of a minimalist language.” With regard to the rapid release cycle and the recent introduction of JavaFX 1.2 Evgeni noted “The fact that you are not afraid of introducing changes that are not backward-compatible is great because RIAs are here to stay for a long time, and we want a tool that is the best it can be.” Overall, Evgeni said: “JavaFX has many positives, not to mention being free for the developer, and it is just the barrier of learning something new that it must help developers overcome.”

The complete interview with Evgeni can be found here.

Wednesday Jul 29, 2009

Interview with JavaFX Coding Challenge Winner Sten Anderson


Reviews Interactive recently sat down with Sten Anderson, developer of the grand prize winning JavaFX Coding Challenge application, Music Explorer FX. Sten has been working with Java since the late '90s and is currently a Senior Consultant for the software consultancy, Citytech, in Chicago. Sten began working with JavaFX at the time of the preview release, in August 2008. Sten said he learned JavaFX through trial and error, but claimed “I found it fairly easy to get up to speed in the new language, which is more of a testament to the language design than it is my ability to learn new things.”

Through his years of experience as a developer, Sten has grown convinced that applications are “all about end-user experience,” noting that users will not use any application that isn't perceived as usable. Sten said one of the highlights of JavaFX is its ability to excel “at creating rich, interactive, visual user interfaces which I think are ultimately easier to use.” He described JavaFX as “a DSL for creating compelling user interfaces,” pointing out that “JavaFX makes it easier for a developer to create something good.”
Sten Anderson
Sten Anderson
Sten found that the most useful aspect of JavaFX in developing Music Explorer FX was “its near-seamless integration with the Java language and platform.” Sten also pointed out that he “would not have been able to write the application in the same time-frame without being able to lean on my existing Java knowledge.” Sten noted that as a Java developer he “found the syntax of JavaFX a welcome respite from the more verbose Java language.”

As a career Java developer, Sten noted when comparing RIA platforms, that “Java FX is 'better' simply because it's Java.” He said it all boils down to that fact being JavaFX's winning differentiator: “Since JavaFX plays so well with Java, its newness is compensated by the extreme age and maturity of the core Java platform.” He said it also gives Java developers a way to utilize their existing skill set when developing RIAs, by letting them stay “closer to home,” giving them the option to stay within the “Java Ecosystem.”

The complete interview with Sten can be found here.

Friday Jul 17, 2009

Interview with OpenSolaris Enthusiast Octave Orgeron


Reviews Interactive recently spoke with OpenSolaris enthusiast and influential blogger Octave Orgeron about the new OpenSolaris 2009.06 release. Octave is a Systems Architect with more than a decade of professional experience in designing, deploying and supporting Solaris solutions for the enterprise. He has been involved with OpenSolaris since the beginning and actively contributes to the OpenSolaris Logical Domains (LDoms) community through blog posts, articles and support.

Octave discussed the new features in OpenSolaris 2009.06 stating "I've found that the desktop integration and increasing amounts of IPS packages to be very helpful and productive for me." Octave also said that Crossbow and Xen have been "of great interest to me" on the virtualization front. However, he claimed the biggest enhancement personally was the SPARC support because of the work and testing he does on the SPARC platform.

Octave also gave his opinion on what the future holds for OpenSolaris, noting that although much of the focus has been on the desktop and user experience, he feels more emphasis needs to be placed on the provisioning, server administration, and support of the SPARC platform. He feels that "doing so will help bring OpenSolaris into the Data Center and help the transition from Solaris 10 to whatever the next product version will be named."
Octave Orgeron
Octave Orgeron
Octave is currently writing a book about Solaris/OpenSolaris LDoms and hopes to keep on contributing in this area. He also plans to start work on projects to address system administration needs and concerns with the long-term goal of helping out with Containers and Xen.

The complete interview with Octave can be found here.

Wednesday Jul 08, 2009

Interview with JavaFX Developer Fabrizio Giudici


Note: This post is the first in a series of ongoing interviews Reviews Interactive is conducting with product experts who use various Sun technologies and blog about their experiences to both share their insight and examples, as well as help other developers better understand these technologies.  Reviews interactive will talk to these experts to discuss new product updates and releases, how they are utilizing the technologies in their current projects, and what they hope to see in the future.

Reviews Interactive recently spoke with JavaFX developer Fabrizio Giudici, a prominent and highly-respected blogger in the JavaFX community who writes regularly for both Java.net and DZone. Fabrizio said he is particularly interested in using JavaFX on mobile devices, which he stated is a great platform to give applications “all the bells and whistles.”

Fabrizio's current work with JavaFX is primarily focused on the open source blueMarine project, which he started several years ago. The blueMarine project encompasses a series of tools to support photographers such as a windRose, an expandable geo-tagging tool which he is looking to leverage for taking notes in the field. Using JavaFX, Fabrizio recently developed and is still testing an application called blueBillMobile, which expands on the geo-tagging capabilities of windRose for birdwatchers. Fabrizio reported that he developed his working prototype of blueBillMobile in only one week, which he says “would have been impossible with Java Micro Edition.”
Fabrizio Giudici
Fabrizio Giudici
When asked how JavaFX would change the way developers create RIA applications, Fabrizio said he sees JavaFX as having the potential to fill a gap between regular programmers and graphic designers, which he noted “would make it possible to create better looking applications and/or reduce the costs for developing a good looking application.” This is particularly important he said because “often excellent software developers, even with a developed taste for fine looking stuff, don't have themselves the skills to create fine looking stuff – but they believe they do, and the results are...well, not so good.

Fabrizio said he is most impressed with the new widgets in the 1.2 release of JavaFX, and also pointed out that because of his interest in mobile development, the addition of portable classes to access local storage was also an important feature. With regards to the future, Fabrizio said he is most interested in JavaFX tools, including the JavaFX Authoring Tool that was recently demonstrated at JavaOne. Fabrizio said he hopes to see “developments in tools for quality assurance, such as testing, static code analysis, coverage reporting and so on – the kind of stuff we got used to in the Java world.”

The complete interview with Fabrizio can be found here.

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