Working with the recent early access release of JavaFX 2.0 has been interesting. On one hand, the scene graph API you know and love translates surprisingly well to Java. The team at Oracle has done a nice job of keeping the new API simple to use. The animation support still makes it easy to do the simple things, and possible to do the sophisticated. The memory overhead is down while performance is up. All good.
There are definitely places where JavaFX Script (now Visage) is missed. Binding, object literals, functional programming, and easy internationalization were all particularly useful language features. To make up for this loss, you can now use all of the old, familiar Java tools to write JavaFX including all of the awesome testing libraries and IDEs that Java is known for. In my opinion, this more than makes up for the loss of the awesomeness that was the JavaFX Script syntactic sugar.
You can always add some of that sweetness back in by using one of the many great JVM languages at our disposal. My weapon of choice happens to be Groovy and I can tell you that Groovy and JavaFX are a potent combination. Apparently Groovy is a terrific language for expressing application frameworks as it boasts two of the best in the Java world: Grails for web applications and Griffon for desktop applications.
Yesterday I decided to take a quick look at what would be involved in creating a JavaFX application plugin for Griffon. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. Griffon's architecture is clean and the documentation was great. It took me a lot longer than it should have just because I was enjoying looking around under Griffon's hood.
A video showing the results of my little experiment is embedded below.
I plan to continue developing this plugin with the ultimate goal being first-class Griffon support for JavaFX applications when JavaFX 2.0 ships later this fall.
The JavaFX team at Oracle has a lot of work ahead of them. There are some missing features and some rough edges, but this Early Access release is a great start. I can't wait to see the finished product.