Oracle reveals open source JavaFX plans

The company seeks transparency and an open development model in addition to the replacement of any closed code with open code

Oracle's open source plans for the JavaFX rich Internet application platform call for transparency and replacing any closed code with open code, an Oracle official said recently on a Java OpenJDK mailing list.

With its JFX project for open source JavaFX, Oracle wants JavaFX to serve as a step to providing the next-generation Java client toolkit. Oracle says JFX would be contributed to OpenJDK, its official open source implementation of Java, and that it seeks patches and early feedback from the community.

[ JavaFX 2.0 was released last month; Oracle also talked about Java 9. | For more on Java, subscribe to InfoWorld's JavaWorld Enterprise Java newsletter. ]

"We are not just interested in open sourcing the code, however. We also want to move into an open development model. We already have an open bug database," said Richard Bair, chief architect for client Java at Oracle. The intention is to have an official proposal, or Java Specification Request, involving JFX as part of the Java 9 timeframe. That could be a couple years, with Oracle already pledging to release Java SE (Standard Edition) 8 in 2012. "Our basic motivation for wanting to open-source JFX is to [build] community and ecosystem support and adoption around JavaFX by increasing transparency," Bair said.

Oracle hopes to replace any closed code in JavaFX with free code. "We are likely to have some encumbrances that require a closed module for the time being for the binaries that we ship of JavaFX, for the sake of performance and such (e.g. T2K for fonts)," Bair said on the mailing list. "We will continue to work hard to replace those bits with free code."

The JavaFX contribution makes OpenJDK a "bigger and richer project," said analyst Al Hilwa, of IDC. "This shows signs of investment from Oracle and commitment to keep the community happy by keeping open source top of mind. It also has the potential to broaden the client Java technology if contributors come on board and improve the code."

The JFX effort includes more than 6,000 public API members, including methods and constructors as well as other components, such as unit tests and core libraries. "Our builds are all Ant, with JUnit for testing (there is some 'make' in there for native parts). We also have NetBeans projects set up for each area. There is a lot of code that we'll be releasing, so as a matter of practicality, we're going to release different parts of JavaFX over the course of the next few months, starting with UI controls, followed by charts," Bair said.

JavaFX has taken a back seat to other rich media technologies like Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and HTML5. But Oracle raised eyebrows last month when it demonstrated JavaFX running on an Apple iPad tablet; Apple has not permitted Java to run on its iOS devices, including the iPad and the iPhone.

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