A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog entry describing how I thought applets could regain viability as an application development platform ("Re-Inventing the Applet", 3/6/2007). At the time, I made a few suggestions about what needed to improve in order for this to happen:
"A new, streamlined "Java Player" that can be easily downloaded and installed by end users...which, when first installed, would include only a minimal set of classes required by all applications"
I later discovered that Sun had been actively working on this. At the time, they were calling it the "Consumer JRE", but it is now known as "Java 6 Update 10" and is scheduled for release later this year.
"A new GUI toolkit optimized for delivering the best possible user experience on modern operating systems and graphics hardware"
I learned that Sun had also taken some steps in this direction, optimizing the Java2D API to take better advantage of current graphics hardware (on Windows, at least).
That left one item: the new GUI toolkit. As I suggested in the earlier article, Swing and AWT have grown a bit long in the tooth. The question then became - what should a new Java-based GUI toolkit look like? Sun seemed to think that a new scripting layer added on top of Swing was the answer, but that wasn't consistent with my objectives. I wanted something that would enable Java developers to easily build highly functional and visually engaging applications in Java, not another scripting language, providing capabilities similar to other modern GUI toolkits such as Flex and Silverlight.
After nearly a year of development, I believe I now have an answer to that question.
I would like to introduce the Java development community to the Pivot platform. Pivot is an open-source framework for building high-quality, cross-platform applications that are easily deployable both via the web and to the desktop. It began as an R&D effort at VMware and is now being made available to the community as an option for developers who want to build rich client applications in Java.
Pivot isn't just another open source web toolkit - it is a full-featured, professional-grade development platform that is sufficiently functional to create a broad range of production-ready applications. We've done our best to include what we think are the most essential features for a 1.0 release, and we have tested as extensively as possible. However, we are looking to the Java development community to help us continue to expand upon what we have accomplished thus far. We need support from developers who are willing to start working with Pivot now, to help us identify issues, complete features, and create reference applications. We are excited about this platform, and we want other Java developers to be excited about it as well.
Pivot is currently being hosted at pivot.dev.java.net. We hope to see you there!
-The Pivot Development Team