Battle of the rich Internet app development tools: JavaFX squares off against AJAX

In a mock debate focused on the rich Internet application development realm, AJAX was pitted against Sun Microsystems' JavaFX Friday, with proponents for both technologies pointing up their entrant's high points and the low points of their rival.

A session at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco had the co-founders of the Ajaxian Web site for AJAX technologies squaring off, with Ben Galbraith playing the part of the JavaFX advocate and Dion Almaer serving as AJAX's proponent. Both serve as co-directors of developer tools at Mozilla. While Galbraith and Almaer are obviously geared toward AJAX, Galbraith said he also has experience consulting on Java.

"JavaFX is built on top of an incredibly mature runtime that gives you amazing performance," as well as great features and Larry Ellison, Galbraith said, giving a humorous nod to Oracle's plans to buy Java founder Sun Microsystems.

Almaer focused on AJAX being synonymous with the Web. "It's all Web stuff that's going on," he said.

The two went back and forth, measuring factors such as graphics performance, language capabilities and tools.

"Today's JavaScript runtimes are just pitiful," Galbraith said, and the Web is slow, he added. Java also has a more sophisticated API, he argued. But Almaer countered, "We have a very simple API. I consider that a feature."

Almaer also advocated the performance of the Google Chrome browser, prompting Galbraith to ask how many people actually use Chrome.

In the graphics space, JavaFX and Java outpace AJAX "by a huge margin," Galibraith said. Almaer promoted the Canvas graphical technology for browsers. Google's new O3D technology also boosts 3-D rendering on browsers, said Almaer.

Video, Galbraith said, is "an area [where] I'm pleased to say JavaFX is also leading the way."  But citing YouTube as a successful Web video venture, Almaer said rich video already is possible now on the Web through mediums such as Flash. In addition, HTML 5 also supports video and is backed by Mozilla, he said.

Almaer asked why JavaFX needed its own language, (JavaFX Script), rather than using something already available, such as Groovy. "You have to invent yet another language," Almaer said.

JavaScript far outpaces JavaFX when it comes to available components, he said. "In our world of JavaScript, you've of course got millions of components," said Almaer.

Galbraith pointed out there have been issues with CSS, which is used with JavaScript. He did this by showing a coffee cup, with a box showing the words "CSS is awesome," with the word, awesome, over-running the lines of the box.

Galbraith said Java has an advantage in tools. "Come on, you've got nothing for tools that can even come close to the Java platform," he said. But Almaer countered that there are many single-purpose tools on the Web for AJAX. He also promoted Mozilla's Jetpack technology for extending browsers and building Web pages.

While Java offers a single, consistent platform, the Web offers a "nightmare of compatibility problems," with multiple browsers pervasive, said Galbraith. Almaer cited Internet Explorer 7 as having the most share, followed by Mozilla Firefox and some Webkit-based browsers. Web technologists do not want a dominant player and can leverage open source software while JavaFX users must wait for the JavaFX team if they want a feature, he said.

Almaer also argued while that Java for the Mac is a variation, but Galbraith said Java on the Mac is consistent with Java 1.5 on Windows.

This story, "Battle of the rich Internet app development tools: JavaFX squares off against AJAX" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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