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JavaOne 2010 Part 2: Whatever Happened To Christopher Oliver?

23 September 2010 Comments off

6 minutes


3JavaOne 2010 Part 2: Whatever Happened To Christopher Oliver, Inventor of JavaFX Script?

“This [JavaFX] is all going to open to be sourced eventually.”
“I am not a hater. I do not have  anything against Flash. I actually think it was good thing. It allows UI designers to come up with effects … compelling applications. You can easily do the same with Java and Java2D. It is just that it is hard.” 00:21:20

“It [F3] is OO, it has a degree of type inference” 00:01:02

“It [F3] also has first class function and number interesting feature from the world of functional languaging.” 00:01:14

“How can we make GUI applications more efficient?” 00:01:42
Christopher Oliver,
JavaOne 2007

  Java Champions Logo

Dear Reader

Whatever happened to Christopher Oliver? What would he say now about the state of the affairs in JavaFX development? I wonder whether if he would be pleased or disappointed with the fact that Oliver are deprecating support for JavaFX Script in JavaFX 2.0. In fact, Chris Oliver, the inventor / creator of JavaFX Script is conspicious by his absense.

Christopher Oliver originally presented the research for Form Follows Function (F3) in his infamous blog. I have been to every JavaOne since 2004 until now, and over here, in San Francisco, recorded his technical session from 2007. I have embeded it here again in order to give you all a chance to look at it.

Having spoken recently to some very knowledgeable people, Christopher Oliver, was not the best effective communicator out there regarding the internal goings on at Sun Microsystems. On the Carl Jungs chart of introversion / extroversion versus task / people oriented person quadrants, from hearsay, at least to me, and I am probably going rather inappropriate here, Christopher Oliver is/was a “competitive” personality. This stands to reason since majority of entrepreneurs and leaders have been found to fit the profile.

Chris Oliver deserves credit for his F3 invention again. I do wonder what I would be feeling if I was stepping in to his shoes now? If I had created a brand new scripting language, which was then accepted and turned into an alternative JVM language, then witnessed its takes up by marketing, business analysts and sales teams galore, or those “other” people, and then watched for the three years while they struggled to get the releases out. I think I would be more than a little upset.

(“this is my wild guess as to what this man feels”: Il salua à la suggestion de l’intervenant anonym)

In terms of execution, I would asking myself, how a top tier company like Apple Corporation can break into the mobile phone market so dramatically and surmount the high barriers-to-entry like they did, with the spectacular success of iOS devices? How come they were able to do expand into a so-called competitive and closed market, whilst my own rated billion dollar company Sun Microsystems just could not succeed with JavaFX at all?

I think I would be feeling pretty rotten that JavaFX Script has suddenly come to an end. Boy! If I had known this would going to happen, then perhaps I should have developed both JavaFX Java APIs and the compiled JavaFX Script language simultaneously. It would have been in my best interest to ensure that the delivery was completed largely 80% on schedule. I would have also fought tooth and nail to make sure software was not suddenly changed closed source just before the version 1.0. I think that I could have rather achieved a modicum of balance between agility of implementation and public transparency with the rest of the world.

I would also accept my own failures, because I spent a far too much time on research on graphics, performance and probably should spent time on helping the dedicated FX team get the official releases out, especially in the latter stages of the implementation delivery. Bloody hell, because I am Christopher Oliver and the architect and the great visionary of RIA on the Java platform, it was my sole duty to support the entire team.

Ok! Dream over. Wayne’s World transition starts and finishes:

Yours truly, yes it is I, Peter Pilgrim, do not actually know where it all went wrong with JavaFX Script in the time between 2007-2010. I do know that the future. Thankfully a lot of code is correct and the implementation understead. JavaFX is not dead yet as some whacky technical journalists keep furmenting from their beer spewed vomit from the digital gutters of the streets of Twitteria. Oracle just are no longer supporting JavaFXScript, JavaFX will be part of the Oracle JDK 7 and JDK 8 and so it will be accessible everywere on the desktop. What does Oracle need to do to make JavaFX 2.0 a success:

  • JavaFX with Java must be delivered on time with no further delays in H2 2011. I repeat. There can no longer be anymore slips. This is it. Oracle’s one only chance to take the reins first and make a solid impression, and if this delivery fails then fatigue will set in absolutely, about Java’s ability to support rich client applications and media, through out the community.
  • If the Oracle JavaFX teams needs outside community help, advice or opinions on the design then, bloody hell, they should be able to get it! Just ask us.
  • The outside community needs regular drops of the Java API of the JavaFX 2.0 sprints in order that they see the upcoming development. For those of who like to dabble in alternative JVM languages, Scala, Mirah, etc, then we would lilke to see those Java APIs quicker. It would also help Stephen Chin with Visage project.
  • Oracle, please, do not be afraid of making mistakes with JavaFX for Java, especially the API, in the run up to version 2.0. Because the APIs are to be rewritten to Java, then the Domain Specific Language providers, like yours truly (I hope), Stephen Chin, Charles Oliver Nutter, Andres Almiray, etc have the passion to fix up our own code. We do not care if the API change, we will fit around changes, because we do careless about backwards compatibility. We just want this thing done. 
  • Learn the lessons of the past, JavaFX must have tooling.

Most of all, we as supporters of JavaFX, the idea to bring the Java platform up to speed in order that it can deliver compelling rich applications with effects, must keep faith, keep on working, communicating the issues and solutions; in order that we deliver the end result. It is going require strong coffee and green teas or whatever energises, touches, your soul in order get the success. I can see now that JavaFX 2.0 with Java APIs, and the product line derived thereof, will give us the feeling of an elite-class runtime capable of running the smart phone / smart top applications speculated for middle of this decade (2015).  It is excellent that JavaFX 2.0 has a Java API, and plans to do so, especially for a Scala / Groovy enthusiast like me.

I do hope that Christopher Oliver is not locked in a dungeon and festering sores, I feel that somehow he is taking this decision to stop JavaFX Script in his stride. When I met Oliver in 2007, he sort of came across as an aloof clever physically fit hard-working guy, a Sir Clive Sinclair figure type. I would love to get his opinion on what Stephen Chin and other should do with JavaFX Script the compilation language, if we do get our hands on it. What would have he liked to add or remove to JavaFXScript before its deprecation? If you go back to the original JavaFX, which was in interpreted mode, there was many reserved keywords, which were left out from the compiled JavaFX language. Chris Oliver, all the best, wherever you are and, my goodness, thanks for your vision.

This is Peter Pilgrim, in San Francisco, for the JavaOne 2010 conference. Out


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