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JavaOne 2013 BOF2605 JavaFX, Widgets, and Apps, Oh My! Launching Frameworks for Platforms Large and Small


Multipurpose widget called KeyHole displaying maps and the weather.


This is probably the longest title I’d ever create for a blog entry.

In my spare time I’ve been working with Mark Heckler(The Java Jungle), Hendrik Ebbers (GuiGarage), and Gerrit Grunwald (Harmonic Code) on the idea of application launching frameworks. We will be presenting two approaches to running widgets and applications on the desktop and embedded device (Raspberry Pi) environments. The talk will be a BoF (Birds of a feather) session at JavaOne 2013 (BOF2605). This is where the Java/JavaFX community will have lots of fun demoing, discussing and sharing ideas on topics such as:

  • Application Containers / Dashboards
  • Widgets/Apps/Games/Gadgets
  • Widget/App Development workflow
  • Widget/App life cycle
  • Deployment / App stores

To see a sneak preview of Hendrik Ebbers’ implementation of a Roku-AppleTV-like application container check out his blog entry herehttp://www.guigarage.com/2013/08/boxfx-javaone-preview-1/ The application container is called BoxFX.

Mark and I have been working on an implementation of a desktop-centric application container called TrayFX. To see a sneak preview of TrayFX visit an interview with Mark Heckler hosted by Stephen Chin. Another sneak preview of TrayFX in action is on my youtube channel herehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_KLIzVSiu8 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwzwsGxd-Jk

In this blog entry I will discuss some high level concepts relating to the framework eWidgetFX and the application container TrayFX. Since there is a lot to digest I would like to at least (briefly) show you each layer in the architecture.

Disclaimer: BoxFX and TrayFX are currently private APIs. Both approaches have similarities, however they are independent projects. It’s important to hear from the audience for potential use cases. They eventually will wind up as open source projects. Also, leading up to the JavaOne talk some diagrams or APIs are subject to change in this blog entry.


eWidgetFX is a core library (API) that widgets and app containers will depend on.  Shown below depicts the layers:

High Level Architecture of the core widget framework

Core widget framework API that widgets and widget containers depend on.

The APIs provide services for loading widgets, widget life cycles, and utilities for the widget developer. The main idea was to provide a cross platform application API for application container developers and widget developers to coexist. In fact the goal was to have cross platform widgets & apps capable of running on any app container (based on the eWidgetFX lib).

Application Containers (TrayFX)

TrayFX is an App Container instance that depends on the core widget framework (eWidgetFX). Shown below is the middle layer which is basically different custom application containers based on the core.

High Level Architecture depicting App Containers layer.

Application Containers depend on the eWidgetFX API (core). This allows developers to build their own custom application containers.

TrayFX is an App Container instance that depends on the core widget framework (eWidgetFX). This means that you to can develop your own JavaFX widget & app container of your liking if you don’t like TrayFX 🙂 For instance you could create one for a tablet device which may have different UI metaphors and varied screen sizes (real estate). Shown below is TrayFX launching a clock widget (on the Desktop).

TrayFX launching a clock widget.

A clock widget launched from TrayFX


Widgets or Apps are either standalone applications or eWidgetFX based widgets that can be run inside of a application container. Shown below is the widgets layer:

High Level Architecture of the Widgets layer

Widgets are mini-applications that can launch standalone or launch inside a widget container such as TrayFX.

When creating widgets you can implement a Widget interface or you can extend from the abstract DefaultWidget adapter class overriding optional life cycle methods as a convenience to the developer. Shown below is a high level class diagram:

A hello world widget class extending from the eWidgetFX default widget class.

Widget’s Class Diagram using the eWidgetFX core library.

In the JavaOne BoF  (BOF2605) since the framework is still very alpha during the talk we will present a possible developer workflow to create, build, deploy, and launch widgets.  Below I would like to share a small bit of code to give you an idea of how easy it is to implement a widget on the eWidgetFX platform.

Usually, application launching frameworks have life cycles for the application containers to manage widgets & apps. Widget developers will not need to implement a Stage nor a Scene and basically focus on what they know best (their JavaFX widget as a Node). The framework APIs will allow you to interact with the JavaFX parent containers such as Stage and Scene. The eWidgetFX Widget interface is shown below which has methods that a widget developer would need to implement. For brevity please look at the comments on the methods to understand the basic widget life cycle.

package org.ewidgetfx.core;

import javafx.beans.property.ObjectProperty;
import javafx.beans.property.StringProperty;
import javafx.scene.layout.Pane;
import javafx.stage.Stage;

 * User: cdea
 * Date: 4/7/13
public interface Widget {
    public static enum DECORATION {

    DECORATION getDecoration();
    void setDecoration(DECORATION decoration);

    String getName();
    void setName(String name);
    StringProperty nameProperty();

    String getVersion();
    void setVersion(String version);
    StringProperty  versionProperty();

    String getDescription();
    void setDescription(String descr);

    String getVendor();
    void setVendor(String vendor);

    String getVendorUrl();
    void setVendorUrl(String vendorUrl);

    String getVendorEmail();
    void setVendorEmail(String vendorEmail);

    LaunchInfo getLaunchInfo();
    void setLaunchInfo(LaunchInfo launchInfo);

    WidgetIcon getWidgetIcon();
    void setWidgetIcon(WidgetIcon widgetIcon);
    ObjectProperty widgetIconProperty();

    Pane getAsNode();
    Stage getParentStage();
    void setParentStage(Stage stage);

    WidgetState getWidgetState();

     * Returns a created WidgetIcon for the app container to use. Called 1st.
     * @return WidgetIcon containing a raw node representing the icon. App containers can resize.
    WidgetIcon buildWidgetIcon();

     * Called after buildWidgetIcon() method to allow background processes to occur. Called 2nd.
     * Typically to collect data to update WidgetIcon's Icon overlay. An example would be
     * an email widget periodically checking email to update Icon overlay the number of emails received.
    void startBackground();

     * Initialize the widget. If the developer calls this method the framework will not call it. Called 3rd.
    void init();

     * Start is meant to be called when the user clicks the icon to launch widget. Called 4th.
     * Typically to start animations or position on the desktop. This should not be confused with startBackground()
 void start();

 * Pause is typically used to pause animations. Or other developer defined resources.
 void pause();

 * Resume is typically used to resume a animations. Or other developer defined resources.
 void resume();

 * Stop is called when the widget is closed and not visible. Typically this is to stop animations, and minor cleanup.
 * The framework will call stop and stopBackground() method when exiting the app container.
 void stop();

 * Stops any background processes. Called when widget is being closed by the framework when exiting app contain. Called last.
 void stopBackground();



While building this framework we kept coming up with more features and ideas, however with very little time left we still were able to provide common capabilities that you’ve grown to love on your device. Hopefully, this will whet your appetite before you attend the BoF at JavaOne.

All are welcome! Enjoy!


JavaFX – Java Applets Making a Comeback?

Pedal to the metal

Petal to the metal


In 2008 JavaWorld had written a great article by Jeff Friesen called “Are applets making a comeback?“. Jeff Friesen poses this question to leading thinkers and doers in the Java developer community. Although the question posed to readers may seem rhetorical, and difficult to answer with an emphatic “Yes“.  I want to try to answer this question in the year 2010.  Right after Oracle has finalized its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Larry Ellison CEO of Oracle had  an Oracle + Sun Product Strategy Webcast announcing it would invest heavily in JavaFX. So, currently there are lots of things going on with the JavaFX platform. As the JavaFX platform matures the community should mature. So, hopefully I can encourage you to stay more involved in helping the JavaFX community grow.

Are Applets Making a Comeback?

Many Java Developers who have used Applets in the past, have often felt inadequate when competing with the new Web Order due to all the AJAX and Adobe Flash craze.  One of the main complaints about Java Applets was its start-up time. In my opinion ‘Perception‘ is key and when it comes to user experience, it is often said that “If it looks and feels slow, the application is probably not worth running“.  I believe that our society has this urge of instant gratification, so being patient is a hard thing to do these days. During years past Java developers have been longing for that day when Java Applets will make its big comeback. While many Sun engineers are working tirelessly solving this problem it always seems on going (It should).  Sometimes I’ll come across Java developers still feeling unconvinced whenever an update is released. I also have heard people get quite flustered and a little threatening.  I don’t mind if you complain, but do something about it. Then some will say, “What can I do about it?“. Well, the obvious things are forums, blogs and filing bugs. I normally am an early adopter when it comes to Java/JavaFX updates relating to performance increases. Just like folks who decide to buy a new game (Like StarCraft 2) off the shelf they’ll take a look at the graphics requirements such as video ram, etc in hopes their computer can handle it. If not they will likely upgrade their video card or buy a new computer all together. So, upgrading your Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is a snap. So, you are probably wondering where is the part where I encourage you? Well, let me just say with the recent release of JRE 1.6 update 18, I was pretty impressed  with the start-up and reload performance increases. To really see how fast Applets start-up I recommend installing the latest JRE (1.6 update 18), and to please visit Oracle/Sun engineer Rakesh Menon‘s blog entry called “JavaFX – Applet Startup Time“. On his site you will see a list of many folks taking some time to record metrics and describing their browser, OS, and hardware (Please note: make sure your Java Console is set to display so that a text dump outputting  the metrics can later be cut and pasted). I also suggest posting your results if you have a different configuration than the others on the list.

*Note: When clearing the cache (from the Java Control Panel) while having Firefox open be sure to restart Firefox or close tab before re-running the applet.


Once you will notice the start-up time increased you should be able to answer the question yourself  “Are Applets Making a Comeback?“. I know I can see the difference and I’m sure you will too. The Java/JavaFX community with tons of libraries and very good boosts in performance, I truly believe it is safe to say with an emphatic “Yes, Applets are making a comeback!”.  I also want to mention about two very cool sites to test drive your new JRE w/start-up/reload enhanced:

Lastly, I want to applaud and thank the Java/JavaFX engineers (Rakesh and company) for making these great strides.


Are applets making a comeback? by Jeff Friesen: http://www.javaworld.com/javaworld/jw-05-2008/jw-05-applets.html
Larry Ellison CEO of Oracle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Ellison
Interactive Pulp – JavaFX, startup time, and security dialogs : http://www.interactivepulp.com/blog/2008/12/javafx-startup-time-and-security-dialogs
Oracle invests in JavaFX: http://learnjavafx.typepad.com/weblog/2010/01/oracle-we-will-invest-heavily-in-javafx.html
Oracle/Sun strategy Webcast: http://www.oracle.com/events/productstrategy/index.html
New Applet Experience by Jeff Friesen: http://www.javaworld.com/javaworld/jw-05-2008/jw-05-newapplet.html
JavaFX forums: http://forums.sun.com/category.jspa?categoryID=132
The JavaFX Journey filing bugs: http://piliq.com/javafx/?p=1144
The Vancouver 2010 Olympics: http://www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-medals/geo-view/
JavaFX – Applet Startup Time: http://rakeshmenonp.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/javafx-applet-startup-time/
Star Cannon: http://www.freearcade.com/StarCannon.jav/StarCannon.html