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.


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