Wednesday, 3 November 2010

OS X and Java Support

Apple have announced that Java will be deprecated on the next major OS X release, I think we can safely read that as basically broken. Will they give out their JVM source code for the community to continue with? Of course they won't. The reason they don't want Java applications on the Mac is they perceive the average Java application as having a poor/inconsistent UI compared to the Cocoa/Quartz standard. Java applications are also slower and more memory intensive than native applications. The community JVM will only be of worse quality than the Apple offering (unless some companies with heavy Mac/Java application investment step in). Java zealots can argue the difference can be reduced to a reasonably small amount, but the simple fact is that the average developer isn't skilled enough/lacks the time to achieve this. In essence, yes, I agree with Apple. Why should they have to maintain a technology that dilutes their  application quality, when overall quality in one of their unique selling points.

Are we going to rush off and create an objective C library component with exactly the same API as JGraphX so you can quickly recreate your application in Objective C? No. For one, we're not going to panic every time a company changes its mind and there's quite a lot that going on at the moment. We share Microsoft's view that HTML 5 canvas is going to be the lowest common denominator as a graphical platform and intend to build enough custom functionality on top of it, that for a hardware accelerated canvas you feel you could be working on a native application.

Is that not helpful to the Java developers (and only 3 people follow this blog to date, and I believe they are all Java developers)? Not really, we're continuing to support Java fully. We provide a very widely supported platform in the JavaScript mxGraph client. It's not free, like the Java client is, but the application written using JGraphX is only free if your time is worth nothing. The Java platform will remain a good way to prototype for the JavaScript client, having the same API. For academic and FOSS projects, we will be looking at some way to allow mxGraph to be freely used (free as in beer).

Ultimately, we feel that diagramming should be thin client with the server sitting virtualized in a cloud, be that public or private. I know these buzz words have been around for many years and never quite materialized, but it will arrive, one day.

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