Ellison sees new opportunities for Oracle with Java on mobile devices

At the annual JavaOne conference, Larry Ellison promoted Java, JavaFX on Oracle-branded netbooks, and OpenOffice, and took on Google's Android.

Months before Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems is expected to be complete, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is already setting the technology agenda for the combined company.

Speaking for the first time publicly about the deal at Sun's annual JavaOne conference this week, Ellison was not shy in announcing his intention to enter the netbook and smartphone businesses using Sun's Java and the new JavaFX to compete against Google's Android operating system on those devices.

He didn't stop there. Ellison said he wanted to see the Sun-sponsored OpenOffice product, a direct competitor to Microsoft's mammoth Office franchise, swap its AJAX development language for JavaFX. That move would appear to be a bold one given that the vast majority of Web-based developers use AJAX, a technology that has already gone through the rigorous Java Community Process (JCP) and JavaFX process.

Ellison's remarks have caused some consternation among some corporate and third-party developers in the Java development community -- particularly his wish to see OpenOffice developers substitute AJAX for JavaFX. "I don't see how JavaFX coding for the front end of a Java Extended Edition server at all compares to using some jazzed up Java framework. And by the way, I don't see OpenOffice programmers going for JavaFX over AJAX. That's not going to happen," said Bob Holmes, an independent consultant based in Chatsworth, Calif.

Presently, JavaFX is officially endorsed only by Sun, and Sun's NetBeans is the only integrated development environment for building JavaFX applications.

"We'd like to see accelerated development based on this exciting new platform Java with FX, which allows us to get away from AJAX tools," Ellison remarked during his keynote address. "Going to JavaFX will let us build fantastic UIs in Java, and we encourage the OpenOffice group to quickly build their version of a spreadsheet or a word app using JavaFX."

Learn more about what Oracle's Sun acquisition means for Java
Read a special report on the Oracle-Sun deal  

Read some analysis on what Oracle may do with Java
Adding some good-natured ribbing to the proceedings, Sun's Scott McNealy pointed out to Ellison that there was one particular mobile device that did not use Java, referring to Apple's iPhone . Knowing Ellison has a close friendship with Apple founder Steve Jobs, McNealy said, "There's a really great friendship that we might exploit here in the Java community between Larry and Steve. If you could just talk to him, Larry, that would be just great."

Sun officials have been evangelizing JavaFX of late, believing it is the best way for developers to create graphical elements, and they have been promoting JavaFX heavily as a way for developers to reuse their existing code and programming skills. They contend JavaFX will prove significantly less expensive to IT shops and third-party developers compared with the cost of retraining programmers to learn AJAX.

Sun did its part to add a little momentum to JavaFX at the conference, announcing the 1.2 version of the product. The updated version now has a cross-platform UI library, along with support for the Real Time Streaming Protocol. Sun also rolled out an early version of a JavaFX-based authoring tool scheduled for final release by the end of this year.

Not shockingly, Ellison reiterated Oracle's commitment to Java, reminding conference attendees that Oracle's middleware strategy is "based 100% on Java," as its entire next generation Fusion suite of applications will be. He added that there will be increased investments from the combined company, seeing a marked expansion of the overall community, saying, "And we are very excited about that."

Paying homage to James Gosling (who was in attendance), the driving force behind the creation of Java, Ellison said Gosling and his team had done a "fantastic" job of not only inventing but expanding and opening up Java to the world. He said developers could expect more of the same for the technology under the new ownership.

Adding more muscle to Sun-Oracle's commitment to deliver Java-based mobile devices, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said the company remains on track to open a Java online store aimed at consumers that will offer Java-based applications for phones, netbooks and PCs. Proving that Sun is eating its own dog food, Schwartz said the online store, scheduled to go into public beta this summer, is being constructed using Java business logic and will sport a JavaFX user interface.

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