JavaFX Authoring tool demo at JavaOne 2009 (with video) – updated


During this morning’s JavaOne general session, the “James Gosling’s Toy Show”, Tor Norbye gave another preview of the “JavaFX Authoring Tool” (TODO: Needs a cool codename!!!).

In 2007 when I blogged about the original JavaFX announcement at that year’s JavaOne, one of my first questions was about the tooling. At first we basically just had JFXPad to play around, then came more integration with Netbeans. However, these are not designer tools, and a RIA application needs more access points of people who are not software developers. This was partially answered with the JavaFX plugins for tools like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, but what was really missing was a visual place to bring content together interactively and created animated content.


So now we see glimpses of the JavaFX authoring environment that Sun plans to release. The tool seems to be in the early stages of development and it is unclear when it will be released. However, some of the features look very compeling and familiar. Like any of the versions of the Adobe Flash tools, it features a timeline with the ability to edit key frames and create animated transitions. It also allows you to drag and drop media and JFX components (including the new 1.2 controls) to compose your app.

The coolest feature is that the tool aims to deliver on the “multiple screens” theme of JFX, you can easily output your project for a JFX desktop application, mobile and the plan is to have output for TV applications.

The following videos demonstrate the basics of the tools …

And this next video features the visual binding feature that allows you to graphically bind properties between target and source objects, with inline display of the properties.

The tool looks nice, but it’s too early to compare it to any of the equivalent Adobe or Microsoft tools. To me this type of tool is key to adoption, so I wish the team the best of luck and that they hopefully find an effective way to get feedback via previews just do sanity checks on the tool (hint, hint, I wouldn’t mind preview access :-)

One final note, I think there’s a need for a JFXMattise like tool. I don’t know if this tool is it, I don’t think so. Basically, maybe a subset of this tool, embedded in Netbeans that allows developer type people to visually compose their JFX applications, with an emphasis on visual UI control and layout composition. As it stands, I think there’s a big gap there even if this tool is released.

Update 1: I added another video showing how you can edit “multiple screens”. That is, tweak your JFX application in other devices with different resolutions out of a main project. In this case, you can have this full resolution application with several smaller windows targeted for mobile devices. The cool thing is that you can tweak one of the target devices to say have less buttons so it can still be tailored for other platforms.

Also Tor has posted a blog entry about the tool (which is the current project he’s working on).

Update 2: New screenshots of the JavaFX Design Tool

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