Busy day at Oracle

Mac OS X ready: Oracle releases JDK 7 U4 and JavaFX 2.1

It's certainly been a few busy days at Oracle. Yes, even away from the protracted goings-on in a Californian courtroom, it's business as usual for the company, releasing two big Java updates in Java SE 7 Update 4 and JavaFX 2.1.

The dual release may just seem like a mandatory maintenance release to patch things up and keep the punters happy. Not so, as this is the first delivery of both the Java Development Kit (JDK) and JavaFX Software Development Kit (SDK) for Mac OS X by Oracle. Senior Director of Product Management for Java, Henrik Stahl calls it 'a major milestone in our effort to bring Oracle Java to Mac.'

 Starting with the JDK first, U4 includes the next-generation garbage collection algorithm, Garbage First (G1), which has been the talk of the Java community for some time, with many eager to sample some new ways to quell some of the garbage issues they've accumulated. Specifically designed to help out multi-processor machines with large memories and heap collections of around 6GB, Garbage First meets garbage collection (GC) pause time goals with high probability, while achieving high throughput.

Jobs are performed concurrently to ensure as minimal disruption as possible, with an impressive pause time of 0.5 seconds or less. It's no wonder that G1 is expected to replace the old Concurrent Mark-Sweep Collector (CMS) in the longrun. It's as close to real-time as larger Java applications are going to get for now.

Oracle has reiterated its commitment to merge the Oracle Java HotSpot JVM and the Oracle JRockit JVM into a converged offering by introducing new features from both within Java SE7 Update 4. Combined with this there's also updated support for NetBeans, in 7.1.2 to accomodate the JDK update.

There's numerous performance enhancements to the JVM, promising a performance boost to Oracle Fusion Middleware products. This paves the way for the first consumer release of the Java 7 JRE, scheduled to appear shortly on May 1st.

As for the rich client side of things, JavaFX 2.1 has gone GA after a few months knocking about in the Beta stage. Oracle seems to be really pushing JavaFX's second bite of the cherry after tossing aside the first iteration. JavaFX 2.1 introduces playback support for MPEG-4 and AAC audio whilst the new WebView support for JavaScript to Java method calls makes it possible to allow JavaScript make calls to Java APIs to offload specific operations to Java.

Another important part of the bundle is the Early Preview of JavaFX SceneBuilder 1.0 (previously profiled at the beginning of the month by us here) which is a visual layout tool for JavaFX. A longheld complaint against previous versions was the sheer complication that arose from creating UI elements. SceneBuilder introduces drag-and-drop functionality making it easier to position UI components onto a scene. The video below gives you a good starting point in using the tool:

You can get your hands on both JDK7 U4 and JavaFX 2.1 right now to utilise the latest updates to the Java platform. Enjoy!

Chris Mayer

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