It was the belle of the ball stumbling as she made her grand entrance. Sun Microsystems on Tuesday, hoping to make a big splash at JavaOne with the launch of its shiny new platform for rich internet application development, saw demos of JavaFX repeatedly crash.

Like blaming it on the red carpet, Sun’s senior VP of software Rich Green said it was “the size of the pipes in the Moscone Center” that were the culprits of the embarrassing brain-freeze. He was trying to drag a JavaFX app from a browser to the desktop; a pretty neat trick, when you think about it. I wasn’t there to see it, but I hear he was later able to pull it off.

JavaFX introduces JavaFX Script, a declarative, statically typed scripting language that like Java uses packages, classes, inheritance and separate compilation and deployment units. JavaFX code compiles into bytecode and runs in any JVM that Java code can, including handheld devices. JavaFX “provides a presentation layer for the Java ecosystem,” according to Sun’s JavaFX introduction page. JavaFX Scripts can call Java APIs directly.

For Java developers, check out part one of Sun’s introduction to JavaFX Script for Java developers, a step-by-step . You’ll find links to parts two and three there too.

The demo’s failure brought to mind another bit of techie history trivia: the Windows 98 demo crash by Bill Gates at Comdex on April 20, 1998. JavaFX clearly has more potential and innovation to offer developers than Win98 did, but also will have more competition; namely from Adobe’s Flash (and later, AIR), Curl and Microsoft’s Silverlight. Ten years ago, the only other realistic options for the desktop were all made by Microsoft.

You’ll also want to know about the OpenJavaFX Web site, where you can discuss and contribute to the project and download all the related parts and pieces.

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I am Technical Editor of the [url=http://www.crn.com]CRN Test Center[/url], a kind of computer-centric "Consumer Reports" for retailers and VARs ([url=http://crn.com]www.crn.com[/url]). I bought my first computer in 1980, an Atari 800. In addition to adventure games like Zork, I also played with the hardware, dabbling with ROM dumps and mods to the 810 disk drive. That's also where I learned BASIC programming. After 1984, I moved to PCs, clones and NetWare, and then to Apple IIs and Macs until around 1990. In July of that year I got my first job at a publishing company, supporting about 25 Mac users (including the staff of "MacWeek").

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