FX and the City

NightHacking with Stephen Chin and the LJC

Elliot Bentley

On the first stop of his European road tour, Chin dropped by the London Java Community to show off JavaFX running on a Raspberry Pi.

The first stop on JavaFX evangelist Stephen Chin’s
European road tour
was London, where JAXenter’s offices happen
to be based. As well as interviewing Russel Winder, Stephen Colebourne and Trisha Gee during his stay in
London, Chin found time to present a talk to the London Java

Broadcast live on his Ustream channel (and later uploaded to YouTube), the talk
was a mixture of prepared slides, live demos and plenty of
questions, followed by a brief hands-on with JavaFX itself. With
the event organised late, only a small number could make what ended
up being an intimate session.

Chin’s opening demo was a simple recreation of the iconic Star
Wars intro, with text scrolling across a static photo of the moon.
This was unimpressive in of itself, until Chin delved into the
source code to change the effects, which included drop shadows, 3D
transforms and animation, all with simple snippets of code.

One of the highest-profile announcements of this year’s JavaOne was
support for ARM devices such as the hacker’s delight Raspberry Pi,
and so Chin had brought along a Pi loaded with an as-yet-unreleased
JavaFX build to wow the crowds. He transferred the ‘Star Wars’
demo’s .jar file to a USB drive, plugged it into the Pi and it ran
without a hitch.

Chin then went on to discuss the way in which JavaFX apps can be
bundled with a specific version of Java and placed in app stores. A
recent example of this was Ensemble,
an app notable not only for its demos of JavaFX features but also
the fact that it made it into the closely-vetted Mac App

James Gosling, who Chin interviewed last week in the run-up to his
Nighthacking tour, even described Ensemble’s inclusion in the store
as “an earthquake”, adding that he “can’t wait to start playing
with” JavaFX in a recent
blog post

It was difficult to judge from Chin’s demos and the limited
hands-on time precisely how useful JavaFX will be in the long run.
It seems to be attempting to reclaim the desktop for Java, as well
as providing shortcuts for building “immersive visual applications”
(as stated
in promotional materials
); a lack of focus perhaps a result of
its troubled past.

Of course, as Chin himself pointed out, JavaFX is already available
within Java 7, so there’s no need to take our word for it – you can
try it yourself now.

The evening ended with a quick play with the source code –
producing little more than a quick “Hello world” – before the LJC
retired to the pub. Today, Chin will be on his way to J-Fall in the
Netherlands, and will of course be broadcasting his sessions
live on

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