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JavaFX Designer Tool...where is it?

Posted by joconner on June 10, 2009 at 10:40 AM PDT

At JavaOne 2009, Sun demonstrated a new JavaFX designer tool. You can even view the demo online. To shortcut right to the section that shows the tool, move to about 23:00 minutes into the video.

There are obvious questions that are not answered. So obvious, in fact, that I'm slightly baffled that I can't yet find an answer:

  1. Where is this new tool?
  2. Is it a standalone tool separate from NetBeans?
  3. Will it plugin to NetBeans or Eclipse?

If I'm not mistaken, at the end of that video, Nandini said that the tool would be available at the end of the year. At the end of the year? Wow. Why announce something now that's not done?

Do you remember two (three?) years ago when Sun made its first announcements about JavaFX itself and presented demos of it at JavaOne? When we all got home, we realized that JavaFX wasn't really ready and we couldn't really use it. That announcement was definitely premature, but this year's conference gives me confidence that finally JavaFX is a consideration for me in my real job. However, why continue the pattern of announcing things so early? Why announce a designer tool that is apparently not available for even a preview download? Why? This behavior really is frustrating to consumers...that's me, a developer that wants to use JavaFX and any decent tool I can find. I'm glad that something is in the plans...but it would also have been nice to know what exists TODAY for designing JavaFX applications.

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In the keynote they made a great show of being put on the spot to promise "by the end of the year" by Jonathan. Like the 2007 and 2008 announcements, perhaps the vapor announcement is meant to buy time. I predict a preview or beta release by JavaOne 2010.

End of year message not limited to JavaFX, they're saying much the same about JWebPane now despite promising an early release for Swing in Q1 this year. Hugely disappointed on this front. Where do they stand on Netbeans? 6.7 RC2 is out now so the final version can't be too far away. Is this update unasvisable for anybody thinking of using the JavaFX plugin? seems this is only bundled with 6.5.1? How long for? is an update for 6.7 planned before the end-of-year?

The core problem is Sun's firmly closed/proprietary, even secretive, development model for JavaFX. It's even worse than the JDK and other projects pre-SCSL because even at that time we used to received timely betas, now we don't have that, only for JavaFX 1.0 Sun released a Preview release (and with 1.0 a preview of JavaFX Mobile), but there was no public prerelease build of JavaFX 1.2, which is a low point as the significant new functionality in this release pretty much assures that it has some bugs that dodged internal testing... so, wise developers will wait the first maintenance release (1.2.1 or whatever) to start deploying nontrivial apps. And for the Design Tool it's the same thing, the stuff demoed at JavaOne seems complete and stable enough (unless presenters were really lucky) to be at least beta quality; I would expect a public beta right now and not having that is a big disappointments as the NetBeans plugin, however improved, still misses even the most basic visual design facilities. People are already complaining that JavaFX is not yet open source (except for javafxc), but it's even worse than that. When debugging/profiling apps I sorely miss runtime source code to "step in" interesting stuff; even sources with a non-free license would help. And I have reported a few bugs to the JavaFX JIRA, but not having access to recent builds (milestones if not dailies) severely restricts my ability to collaborate (i.e., perform free work for Sun). Perhaps Sun is just tight-assed with the competition against Flash and Silverlight, or ongoing business talks for OEM mobile runtimes, Java Store etc., so they want to keep upcoming features up their sleeves... or they're keeping it closed as a "bonus" until the Oracle buyout is done and Oracle decides the strategy for JavaFX... whatever is the reason, the current development blows, and Sun missing the JavaOne / JavaFX 1.2 opportunity to open it even a little bit was my hardest disappointment.

Maybe they are planning another launch at Devoxx like they did last year.

I am really waiting for the designer, before I care to take a look at JavaFX. Nowadays it doesn't make any sense to develop UI by hand.

Whp - I hope I didn't make it sound on the podcast like we hacked something together for JavaOne. I didn't want to show anything fake at JavaOne - so we were building the real pieces and it was a challenge to have it all working properly in time. There are however some big pieces that simply aren't ready yet so we aren't ready for a general release yet.

"Wow. Why announce something now that's not done?" That's how I feel about JavaFX in general. It's an RIA toolkit where the 1.0 version was actually describing the number of widgets available. The API has broken backwards compatibility several times, yet we don't even have a grid or tree yet. No offense, but I doubt these will be that great when they do launch: these are non trivial components that need to be flexible. 1.0 is far too generous for JavaFX. But given Flash and Silverlight's progress, I guess it was deliver that or more promises. did you remember?

I think JavaFX Authoring Tool demos were lucky to look like beta quality. In JavaPosse #258 Tor said he was surprised they made the tool workable for demos for Java One so we shouldn't expect anything soon. I am sure JavaFX will get more open - for now they decided they need to concentrate on quick development so they don't want to be dragged in conversation about this or that change. They listen, but don't want to discuss. Bugs are resolved and new features introduced, but surely being resource constrained stop the team from addressing every aspect of the framework in instant manner. Which is a shame. As is the way community can participate in bug/feature reguest submission - now it is default that every bug is set to internal access which hides it from submiter until admins change issue's status.

At there stand in german "Nandini Ramani – Sun Director of Engineering (JavaFX Platform) – zeigte "live" eine Preview eines JavaFX Authoring Tools, welches Ende des Jahres erscheinen soll." In english it meand: "Nandini Ramani – Sun Director of Engineering (JavaFX Platform) – shows "live" a preview of a JavaFX Authoring Tool, which should come out in at the end of this year."

Thanks for this post. I never have heard before about the JavaFX designer tool. This sides looks a lot promising.