OK, so recall my note from last month on Sun's de-funding of SwingX, and how this indicates the ascendancy of JavaFX as Java's preferred UI. Well, this gets elaborated in a much more interesting fashion by Richard Bair in an interview on Kirill Grouchnikov's always great Pushing Pixels blog. Here's the key bit, as Bair fields a question on whether he think backwards compatibility has held Swing back:
No I don't. If you gave up backwards compatibility you'd have a whole other set of issues that are many times worse. The level of risk one developer is willing to take isn't the same as another. For every one person who wishes we'd ditch backwards compatibility there are another 50 that would be violently opposed when that advice rendered their applications (or development of future versions of their applications) inoperable. Especially with a technology as mature as Swing. To those people who say we should make a Swing2 which is not backwards compatible, I would say, this is exactly what we're doing with JavaFX.
That last statement shows the breadth of Sun's ambitions for Java FX. It's not just for RIAs -- or, perhaps more accurately, the distinction between desktop apps and RIA will cease to me meaningful, because you'll use Java FX as a graphical front-end for both. Speaking personally -- as a Mac user in particular -- the rough sample Java FX apps I've played with have UIs much more attractive than any previous Java app I've used. Java's attempts to ape the OS X UI are always pretty risible; it's better on Windows but not by much. The Java FX UIs don't even try, and are much easier to use and look at as a result. But I'm not a programmer, so I have no idea how much more complicated that UI programming has just become.