JavaFX 2 was only released in October 2011, but there's already a thriving developer community kicking the tires of the new kid on the block, or busy developing new applications. There's no denying that we've pretty much started from scratch with JavaFX 2, and that we still have a lot of work ahead of us before we can claim victory.
But based on a number of indicators, JavaFX 2 benefits from the support of a growing number of developers. Let's have a look at some of these metrics.
JavaFX OTN Forum
There are currently two forums covering JavaFX. The first one covers JavaFX 1.x, and the activity on that forum has pretty much stopped several months ago, which was to be expected since JavaFX 1.3.1 is the last release supporting JavaFX Script.
On the other hand, the number of discussion threads on the "JavaFX 2.0 and later" forum has been growing steadily since the initial JavaFX 2 Beta for Windows was made available for download last May. A large number of the questions asked on the forum are answered by members of the JavaFX product team at Oracle, but an even higher number of threads involve non-Oracle employees. All in all, this is a sign of an healthy developer ecosystem: more and more developers start experimenting with JavaFX 2, ask questions on the forum, which should ultimately translate into more knowledgeable developers capable of building functional JavaFX applications.
Filing Bugs and Feature Requests
Another sign of a healthy developer ecosystem is the willingness of developers to report issues or submit a request for a new feature, rather than hoping someone else will do it, or moving away from JavaFX. For JavaFX 2, the developer community has contributed to an average of 20% of the activity in Jira since July, which is helping us produce better quality releases, since we can't possibly replicate all the software combinations in our QA lab.
As many of you know, my Tweeter id is @javafx4you, and I try to do my best identifying the most interesting JavaFX-related announcements and blog posts to provide a stream of relevant information on Tweeter. Over time, a growing number of people interested in JavaFX are following me, and this number keeps growing. Of course this number is small compared to the number of followers for @java or @openjdk, but again JavaFX 2 is pretty new, and it's the trend that is interesting.
I enjoy reading blog entries focusing on JavaFX, because it gives me an opportunity to see what other developers think of JavaFX, or discover new uses that we didn't originally envision. My biggest frustration is actually not being able to find out the real name and contact information for the person who has written a terrific blog entry about JavaFX, because I'd like to help put them in touch with our Java Magazine and OTN editor-in-chief, or simply set up a discussion with folks in our development team.
It's of course impossible to track all blogs that mention JavaFX, so I've decided to rely on the excellent summary "JavaFX links of the week" posted on a regular basis by Jonathan Giles. Not scientific, but good enough to se the trend in number of blog entries.
There are many other metrics one can consider, such as the number of JavaFX SDK downloads, the number of JavaFX session attendees at JavaOne, or even the results of informal polls, such as the one posted by Kevin Farrell on java.net (Will you use JavaFX for development once it's fully ported to Mac and Linux platforms?), but pretty much all the ones I've seen show that JavaFX is growing in terms of popularity.
The challenge is of course to keep the trend going, and you can certainly play an important role. Remember: download, kick the tires, file issues, ask or answer questions in the forum, post your thoughts in blog entries, and release new apps!