JavaOne Keynote: Neil Young Likes Java

Rock legend Neil Young joined Sun Microsystems' Executive Vice President of Software Rich Green on stage during the opening keynote of the 13th annual JavaOne conference, underway this week in San Francisco.

Dressed in jeans, a baseball cap, and huge, wrap-around sunglasses, Young unveiled a new, interactive, multi-media-enhanced archive of his music recorded between 1963 and 1972, which will be available on Blu-ray discs.

Joking with the crowd, which had to sit through several blessedly brief live demo crashes, Young said about his own presentation, "This is all fake, so we know it'll work."

What does Neil Young have to do with Java (which the Canadian singer-songwriter pronounced with a short A, like "Javelin")? Java is the underlying platform for the new BD-Live capabilities of the Blu-ray format, which provided the user interactivity features on his Blu-ray music archives. BD-Live allows updates of all aspects of a Blu-ray Disc via the Internet. Young said he plans to release his entire music archive on Blu-ray discs.

Young's appearance underscored this year's conference theme, "Java + You," and the growing importance Sun is placing on technologies for delivering rich Internet applications (RIAs) across all computing devices. Green talked about Java's role in supporting improved user experiences that merge information from different services across "all the screens of your life."

Green told attendees that a developer preview version of Sun's JavaFX will be available in July. JavaFX is a collection of tools that includes a runtime, scripting language, and media-coded framework for building RIAs. Sun first announced JavaFX at last year's JavaOne show in May. The technology competes with rival tools from Microsoft (Silverlight) and Adobe (AIR). Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, who joined Green onstage, acknowledged this competition. "We're taking on the marketplace," he said.

"This is really an RIA revolution," Green added.

The JavaFX Desktop SDK Early Access Program is set for July; the company plans to ship JavaFX Desktop 1 in the fall; and the company plans to ship JavaFX Mobile and TV 1.0 in the spring of 2009, Green said.

Green demoed three JavaFX applications during his presentation. Photo Flockr is an application that allows users to search for tagged photos online and view them in a graphical swarm, sort of like a flock of birds. Movie Cloud is a 3D sphere interface that can present graphical links to dozens of high definition videos swirling within it. He used the Connected Life demo to show how to create RIAs that span multiple "screens," across a Web browser, social network, desktop OS, and mobile device.

He touched on two other projects currently in the works: Project Hydrazine is a service designed to allow developers to bring new services together and provide them in a running cloud environment. It's due after the release of JavaFX. Project Insight is designed to allow JavaFX developers to communicate with their audiences via "instrumented user action data"-essentially, to track how their applications are being used. Sun emphasizes that the application will not collect personally identifiable information about end users.

Green also talked about the increasingly significant role of consumers as drivers of technology changes that eventually make their way into the enterprise. "Businesses used to drive the technology adoption," he said, "but today it's all about consumers. Information is crossing the moat, escaping the [enterprise] castle."

Sun claims that Java technology is the most widely adopted runtime in the world, currently running on billions of devices.

Conference attendees lined up down the street in the early morning cold and fog to catch the conference-opening keynote. Conference organizers expected 15,000 to attend this year's conference.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance journalist and author based in Palo Alto, CA.

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