McNealy sees room for Sun's scripting language

Speaking at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Sun Microsystems chairman Scott McNealy rejected any notion that the company's new JavaFX Script scripting language might have trouble gaining traction in a crowded market.

He also outlined how JavaFX Script, which is to be offered free via open source, could earn money for Sun by serving as a catalyst to sell support services and systems.

JavaFX Script is a scripting language based on Java. But it faces off against a growing roster of dynamic scripting languages, including JavaScript, PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor), and Ruby, all of which have considerable followings.

McNealy, however, sees the scripting language arena as having plenty of room for a newcomer, especially one based on an established platform.

"It's a huge, burgeoning market," McNealy said.

"When you have a scripting language that can take advantage of billions and billions of Java runtimes out there, this is a unique and different model," he added.

Noting Sun's monetization plans, McNealy said Sun can make money from JavaFX techologies in a manner similar to the way it's profited from open-sourcing its Solaris Unix OS. Users will need support contracts and perhaps servers and storage; Sun could get this business, he said.

An attendee at JavaOne, when asked if the world was ready for another scripting language, noted the current proliferation. "That's hard to tell because there's so many of them out there right now," said attendee Adam Spickard, a software engineer at LSI Logic. Spickard said he has used PHP.

In other comments, McNealy said the biggest threat to Sun is technological obsolescence.

"Technology has the shelf life of a banana," he said.

"The biggest threat is that we don't stay focused on the $2 billion of R&D," he said.

One audience member cited an encounter with a potential client in which the client favored .Net and thought Java had no future. McNealy rejected this, saying Java, .Net, and mainframes would be around for years.

"There 's no reason you need to bet all of your horses on one environment or the other, and 30 years from now Java's still going to be here and .Net's going to be here," he said.

Sun and Microsoft also work to bolster interoperability between the two platforms, McNealy noted.

McNealy reflected on what he believes may have been two of the company's biggest mistakes: expecting PC manufacturers to jump on the bandwagon for Solaris on the Intel platform and not owning all the intellectual property within Solaris, which placed encumbrances on it. Both mistakes have since been corrected, with Sun now offering its own Intel- and AMD-based hardware and acquiring Unix IP from Novell, McNealy said.

Having a nontechnical person such as himself run the company was the right move, however, since a more technical CEO might be tempted to dive down deep into technology, he said.

"I just focused on making sure the company ran well," said McNealy, who stepped down as CEO last year but remains chairman.

He added he did not regret that Sun waited a long time to offer Java via an open source format. The open-sourcing was announced in November 2006; the company announced completion of the process on Tuesday.

"We wanted to make sure that Java compatibility was a guarantee," McNealy said.

This story, "McNealy sees room for Sun's scripting language" was originally published by InfoWorld .

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