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Out with the Old, in with the New at JavaOne

SAN FRANCISCO – Sun Microsystems' 13th annual JavaOne conference for developers kicked off Tuesday with everything from a JavaFX release date to the next versions of the standard and enterprise versions of Java.

This year's show placed greater emphasis on the consumer side, with more talk of commercial, mass market projects and applications. The opening keynote was capped off by an appearance from musician Neil Young, who showed off some special features Java allowed him to do on a Blu-ray DVD of a forthcoming music compilation.

JavaFX dominated the opening keynote address, hosted by Rich Green, executive vice president for software. He laid out a roadmap for new client-side technology, which will compete with rich Internet applications languages like Adobe AIR and Flex.

In July, Sun will open the JavaFX Desktop SDK Early Access program, with JavaFX Desktop 1.0 due in the fall. In the spring of 2009, the JavaFX for Mobile and for TV will ship.

Once again we saw the same technical difficulties that marred last year's demos, and it was even the same unfortunate product manager who had her demos crash last year that faced technical difficulties. But when they worked, the demos were impressive, particularly the one that allowed a user to click and drag a Java application from a browser to their computer desktop.

The application was then installed and ran from the desktop, without requiring the browser to be loaded like normal Web apps.

Green also discussed two new Java-related initiatives. Project Hydrazine is designed to help content creators make their content discoverable and usable in the Internet cloud. Hydrazine is due after the release of JavaFX.

The other project on the horizon is Project Insight, which enables JavaFX developers to get better metrics of their application's use. "The physics of the Net are about advertising and modernization, but the backdrop is gathering data," said Green.

Insight will allow JavaFX to gain traffic information so content creators can get an accurate measure of their audience and offer more targeted advertising. It's meant for content users only, Green stressed. "This is not a serving Sun technology, this is instrumented technology that goes right back to you," he said.

Young, who so notoriously ridiculed commercialization of music and musicians hawking products, has apparently decided "This Blu's for you." He came up to discuss a multi-part music collection that will span several Blu-ray discs and make heavy use of the Java code technology used in Blu-ray for interactive features while playing back the music.

Updates to Java releases

The afternoon keynote with CTO Bob Brewin was more to the liking of the many programmers gathered at the event. He didn't do the heavy lifting, though, that was left to lieutenants after Brewin did the basic technology introductions.

Java Enterprise Edition 6 was discussed for the first time in great detail by Roberto Chinnici, a senior staff engineer at Sun. Echoing the complaints of SpringSource, Chinnici said Java EE 6 was going on a diet and losing the unnecessary code.

"The theme of Java EE 6 will be rightsizing, making it the right size for you," he said. "By rightsizing, we can increase flexibility in implementations and deploying the platform."

Sun plans to focus on special deployments for specific communities and shrink the API surface that is exposed to programmers, so that they don't need to deal with so many APIs or have so many exposed in the platform.

Introducing Profiles

As part of EE 6, Sun will introduce Profiles, a mechanism whereby an EE deployment for one kind of developer would have just the libraries needed for their kind of product. A database developer would have one kind of profile while a Web application developer would have a different kind of platform.