Sad news for Java on the Mac?

Java took another blow in its tumultuous relationship with the Mac platform. On a day that would otherwise be cause for great celebration in Macland--the release of Update 3 for Java on the Mac--the release notes stated that Java had now been relegated to "deprecated" status. The next version of the Mac OS, dubbed "Lion," may not even contain a version of Java, and there's no guarantee that Java for Mac will be available for others to carry on the torch.

Although somewhat surprising, the news certainly isn't shocking, as anyone who tossed and turned in sleepless nights during the last long hiatus in Java releases for the Mac will well attest. And this threat may never even come to a head, just as Apple backed off in its licensing requirements that had prevented iPhone applications from being created in anything other than very Apple-centric languages and development. Only time will tell the impact that this announcement will have for the role of Java on the Mac.

Even as a long-time Java-centric company, we at Text Flex aren't so sure that this move is such a bad idea. While we are firm believers in giving the user choice on the platform--whether Flash or Java and HTML 5 or whatever may be your fancy--we understand that manufacturers have a choice in which platforms to support, just as consumers have a choice about which platform to buy into. We're obviously saddened that those who bought into the Mac thinking that they would have a long-standing Java supporter backing them up might very well be disappointed, but we also realize that things have changed greatly in the computing landscape over the past few years.

While Java has made things easier for us, there are certain aspects that have been especially tough. The tXtFL football simulator, for example, requires platform-specific packages because the underlying toolkit is SWT rather than Java Swing. In this case, Java becomes yet another requirement to the package. Granted, this is not the fault of Java, but it's one of the reasons that our first order of business for development of tXtFL 3 is to separate out the game engine from the GUI so that the tXtFL GUI can run on multiple platforms, independent of Java. We've also never made great use of Java Web Start or Java applets because performance has never quite kept up with what we can do withe standard Javascript and HTML 5. Our handy editor Text Trix, however, has benefited greatly from the cross-platform availability of Java.

Regardless of Java politics, we'll continue supporting our software on as many platforms as we are able and will keep looking to broaden our reach. Java still has plenty of gas in the tank, and the Android/Java platform are only growing stronger. Technology is a moving target, and we're excited to keep moving with it.


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