Perhaps the most interesting and forward-thinking announcement to come out of the JavaOne keynotes is the unveiling of a new HTML5 development strategy that has been dubbed Project Avatar.
Cameron Purdy and Adam Messinger unveil Project Avatar
Not knowing exactly what Project Avatar will entail, there is hesitation to call it a 'framework' or an 'infrastructure.' Perhaps the most apt description right now is to call it a philosophy, promising to move the Java world into a place where development practices and patterns will be more in line with an Internet that revolves around HTML5 standards.
Of course, the pertinent question to ask is why the community needs a new strategy from Oracle when many companies are already using existing Java frameworks to deliver rich HTML5 based applications?
Adam Messinger, Oracle vice president of development for Fusion Middleware, asserts that one big motivation is simply ease of use. “You can make an HTML5 client work with a Java back-end today, but it’s not that fun, it’s not that easy to use, and it’s not that easy for HTML folks to collaborate with Java folks.”
The other big goal is unification, or at the very least, bringing Java ME into the same tent as the SE and EE platforms. Java SE and Java EE have always played well together, but micro-application development with Java ME always stood on the periphery.
A path to ME, SE and EE Unification
“What we’re doing with Project Avatar is to unify the way we use Java ME, Java SE and Java EE,” says Oracle’s Adam Messinger.
What we’re doing with Project Avatar is to unify the way we use Java ME, Java SE and Java EE
Adam Messinger, Oracle
And of course, unifying ME and EE means agreeing on JSON as a communication mechanism for passing objects back and forth. And it also means leveraging Web Sockets for bi-directional interactions between clients and servers, while supporting both online and offline communication modes. And with these technologies agreed upon, interoperability and communication between handheld devices, web based applications and enterprise applications hosted on the cloud will become greatly simplified.
It’s an interesting proposal. The only real question is how long it will take to push all the pieces that make up Project Avatar into the mainstream. With many HTML5 development frameworks already producing rich web content, Avatar runs the risk of being late for the ball, and losing market share to the other players in this sector who get there first.