Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Three RIA Tools Examined: JSF, Flex, and JavaFX

2008 is going to be an important year for Rich Internet Applications

Flash/Flex
Another medium for delivering Rich Internet Applications is the high-performance Flash player from Adobe. Flash player (version 9) is a ubiquitous lightweight virtual machine that's installed as a plug-in inside a browser and runs Flex applications. Flex provides a declarative language called MXML that offers out-of-the-box graphical UI components as well as ActionScript, an object-oriented programming language, to build advanced user interfaces. Compiled Flex applications run inside the Flash virtual machine to enable a much richer user experience than would be possible in a standard Web browser where the markup (HTML) and JavaScript are interpreted. Flex is easily extendable and provides easy integration with back-end technologies such as Java, PHP, and ASP.

Let's look at the same application using Flex. Flex provides a declarative way of defining the UI. The compiled file then runs inside the Flash player installed as plug-in inside a Web browser. Here's how the application could be declared:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<mx:Application xmlns:mx=http://www.adobe.com/2006/mxmllayout="absolute">
<mx:Script>
    <![CDATA[

    [Bindable]

    private var numOfClicks:Number = 0;

    public function click():void{numOfClicks++;

    }
    ]]>
</mx:Script>

<mx:Panel x="10" y="10" width="250" height="114" layout="absolute" title="Flex">
    <mx:Button label="Hit Me" click="click()" y="10" horizontalCenter="0"/>
    <mx:Label text="Number of hits: {numOfClicks}" y="40" horizontalCenter="0"/>
    </mx:Panel>
</mx:Application>

The model for the UI is defined inside the mx:Script element.

Figure 2 shows the result:

JavaFX
The next technology is JavaFX. It's the "old newcomer" to the RIA arena. While JavaFX consists of both JavaFX Mobile and JavaFX Script, here I'm referring to JavaFX Script. When I refer to JavaFX, I actually mean JavaFX Script. While JavaFX is a new language, it's based on mature Swing and JavaSE technologies. That's why I call it an "old newcomer."

History
Most people will agree that Java is excellent on the server side, but it was missing in action on the UI side. To be honest, Java does provide solid tools for building user interfaces: Swing and applets. However, using these technologies has been challenging and difficult. The look-and-feel available didn't help much either. To add to that, the JRE's download size (large), its start-up application speed, and its installation and updates (even Java experts can find it difficult to install and update Java) made it even more challenging to use Java to build Rich Internet Applications.

JavaFX
So what is JavaFX? JavaFX is a declarative language for building rich user interfaces using Java. In a way it's Swing for the Web using a declarative scripting language, which makes it much simpler to develop user interfaces. Given that it's based on Swing, it comes with a ready-to-use set of UI components.

The upcoming JDK6 (Consumer JRE) will address the problems with the current Java runtime. To run a JavaFX application will require downloading a lightweight Java virtual machine (probably around 2MB-4MB). The application can be run in the browser (using a Java plug-in, similar to the Flash player) or outside the browser. JavaFX applications running inside a Java virtual machine will be able to deliver richer and more interactive applications than possible via a browser interpreting only HTML and JavaScript.

The following is an example of the same sample application using a declarative JavaFX script. The model for the user interface is defined using the ButtonClickModel class.

import javafx.ui.*;
import javafx.ui.canvas.*;
import javax.swing.UIManager;
import sun.swing.plaf.nimbus.NimbusLookAndFeel;

UIManager.setLookAndFeel(new NimbusLookAndFeel());

class ButtonClickModel {
    attribute numOfClicks: Number;
}
var model = new ButtonClickModel();

Frame {
   height: 100
   width: 150
   title: "JavaFX"
   content: GridPanel {
     rows: 2
     columns: 1
     vgap: 3
     cells: [
       Button {
         text: "Hit Me"
         verticalTextPosition: CENTER
         action: operation() {
           model.numOfClicks++;
         }
       },
       SimpleLabel {
         horizontalAlignment: CENTER
         text: bind "Number of hits: {model.numOfClicks format as <<#>>}"
       }
     ]
   }
   visible: true
};

Finally, running this will produce the following in Figure 3.

Silverlight
This article would be incomplete without mentioning Silverlight. Due to limited space, I will only briefly mention it. (I will cover Silverlight in much more detail in future articles in this series.) Silverlight is a Microsoft .NET platform for building cross-platform, cross-browser Rich Internet Applications. As with Flex and JavaFX, Silverlight applications are delivered inside a virtual machine that is installed as a plug-in into a Web browser.

Conclusion
We'll see more and more organi-zations deploying Rich Internet Applications to improve user experience. The browser is here to stay. It's a fine platform for delivering far superior applications than we're used to. Yet, the standard browser alone can't be pushed beyond its limits.

It's crucial to recognize that additional delivery platforms besides the standard Web browser exist. Virtual machines such as the Flash player or Java can be installed as plug-ins and deliver a much richer experience. These applications can deliver a true desktop experience with the Web delivery model.

As a final note, this is just the first in a series of articles on Rich Internet Applications. As this series of articles progresses, I will get into more details about these technologies. Furthermore, I intend to provide a concise and clear guide for IT managers to select the right user interface technology for their next generation Web application.

More Stories By Max Katz

Max Katz heads Developer Relations for Appery.io, a cloud-based mobile app platform. He loves trying out new and cool REST APIs in mobile apps. Max is the author of two books “Practical RichFaces” (Apress 2008, 2011), DZone MVB (Most Valuable Blogger), and is a frequent speaker at developer conferences. You can find out what Max is up to on his blog: http://maxkatz.org and Twitter: @maxkatz.

Comments (9)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Microservices Articles
When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it’s important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. “Fly two mistakes high” is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee A...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Lori MacVittie is a subject matter expert on emerging technology responsible for outbound evangelism across F5's entire product suite. MacVittie has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations, in addition to network and systems administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning technology editor at Network Computing Magazine where she evaluated and tested application-focused technologies including app secu...
Containers and Kubernetes allow for code portability across on-premise VMs, bare metal, or multiple cloud provider environments. Yet, despite this portability promise, developers may include configuration and application definitions that constrain or even eliminate application portability. In this session we'll describe best practices for "configuration as code" in a Kubernetes environment. We will demonstrate how a properly constructed containerized app can be deployed to both Amazon and Azure ...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addresse...
The now mainstream platform changes stemming from the first Internet boom brought many changes but didn’t really change the basic relationship between servers and the applications running on them. In fact, that was sort of the point. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Gordon Haff, senior cloud strategy marketing and evangelism manager at Red Hat, will discuss how today’s workloads require a new model and a new platform for development and execution. The platform must handle a wide range of rec...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...