JavaFX – a GUI DSL

Having mastered JavaScript (OK master is too strong a word – having become comfortable with both its syntax and usage patterns) my next port of call is JavaFX the recently announced Flash/Silverlight competitor. What led me to JavaFX Script was not its role in this Flash/AJAX alternative platform (which unless  Sun improves the JRE download experience is dead in the water they may have a chance with the promised consumer JRE ) but its status as the 2nd scripting language to be supported by the Java 6 ScriptEngineManager – the first being JavaScript. Although the JavaFX platform is still in alpha, the important elements of the scripting language appear to be usable.

Why do I need another scripting language? Well JavaFX Script is a DSL (domain-specific language) and the domain in question is the GUI and as a GUI DSL, JavaFX is impressive.

In my quest for a micro ETL environment the lack of a fast and powerful GUI tool has been a problem. Admittedly, in my Excel/Sqlite xLite suite GUI generation is not a problem as VBA forms are both fast to develop in and feature rich, but the other two options (Java and Ruby) both lack a cost-effective GUI tool (I know there’s Swing and Tk but for somebody who’s used to the speed of development of tools such as VB forms or Oracle’s Application Express, neither appealed). JavaFX changes all that, it’s elegant, powerful, fast to develop in and portable. Further pushes me down the road of using Talend generated Java as my micro-ETL environment of choice.

It’s easy to dismiss JavaFX as hype but the technology behind the hype looks sound. The language borrows powerful features from other languages, object literals from JavaScript, list-comprehensions from Python/Erland/Haskell and first-class functions from JavaScript/Lisp all combined with the full power and glory of Java. The end result:

..is a declarative and statically typed programming language. It has first-class functions, declarative syntax, list-comprehensions, and incremental dependency-based evaluation. The JavaFX Script language makes intensive use of the Java2D swing GUI components and allows for easy creation of GUIs.

Go the community page for FAQs, tutorials and reference information. Timothy O’Brien has a good first pass at calling JavaFX from a Java program and this article by John Smart explains the basics of using ScriptEngineManager to call JavaScript.

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4 responses to “JavaFX – a GUI DSL

  1. Pingback: Talend vs. Kettle (Pentaho PDI) « Gobán Saor

  2. Hi,
    When will there be a final version of JAVAFX?
    I mean, some functionality has been changed, I don’t know where to find the newest documentation?

    The newest runtime library doesn’t support the “trigger on new” trigger anymore.

    It is taking too long, and Sun should compromise to its deadline of 1 July 🙂

  3. apparently, there is an official preview coming out in a few days…

    Michael

  4. @Fernando, looks like something is happening at long last!

    @Michael, I think I like JavaFX for the same reason ( http://freeyourtech.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/javafx-is-the-real-developers-friend/ ) you do. Although I do most of my coding using Notepad++ not vi!

    Tom