This is the final part in a five part series of entries creating a proof of concept for a JavaFX forms framework. Here, I will conclude with some thoughts relating to using JavaFX to build a forms framework. If you are here for the first time I recommend going to the beginning: Part 1 “What is a Forms Framework?“. By now we should know why it is very important to understand the MVC architectural pattern and how it applies when building applications (especially form type applications). The forms framework helps provide manageable code and clear boundaries for both the designer role and developer role. This allows a designer to focus on the usability (look and feel) of the application meanwhile allowing the developer to focus on the service components and business logic. Next, I want to talk about the popular and ambiguous acronym ‘RIA’ (better known as rich internet application). You are probably wondering what does RIA have anything to do with a MVC forms framework? Well, let me try to explain. To some people ‘RIA’ is a buzzword and to some people its actually a tangible software development platform. I have a hunch that some people are not convinced they should jump on the bandwagon or not. But whatever you choose to agree with, I believe as we slowly become convinced what RIA is and how it fits into our domain an MVC forms framework should always be considered when building larger scale forms based applications. I want to begin by discussing RIA from a Swing/Web/Enterprise developer point of view (considering that’s my background).
Like most of us who had previously come from an enterprise background noticed the Web 2.0 looking applications getting lots of attention. Whenever I hear the word RIA, I really think that it should be called “Rich Applications” and drop the ‘I‘ because all clients should look and feel great regardless if they were connected to the Internet or not. So, usability is key to making client side applications connect with users. This year I was fortunate to go to JavaOne 2009 and experience all things rich client (some enterprise) and one of my last sessions was about Craftsmanship in Software from Ben Galbraith. He mentions “the most important aspect of software creation: crafting an amazing user experience.” This makes me realize that as applications become richer, consumers will demand richer content (a vicious cycle). But, I still believe enterprise-y looking applications (not so flashy) using Swing will still have its place in the world of rich client. When developing rich clients I’ve found Swing GUI development to be quite pleasant to work with, however at times certain things seem pretty hard to do such as animation, binding, and validation.
If you are like me who enjoys software development will learn over time some good proverbs and principles that surface. One saying I’ve heard was “Letting Go of Your Bananas”, which can be applied to your life and not just software. In terms of software I feel its OK to let go of some things and embrace other things. So, it’s healthy to be early adopters, but always keeping in the back of your mind past concepts that are tried and true. An example would be “Swing/Web Frameworks” where everyone created their own or used the vast number of open-source libraries out there.
As the JavaFX community matures I believe forms based frameworks, GUI tools and application frameworks should start appearing, making many developers’ jobs much easier. I think there will be a day where Java developers around the world will not think ‘Swing is Hard‘, but say ‘JavaFX is extremely Easy‘. I encourage you as the reader to explore and learn as much as you can about JavaFX because it’s not every day that you can start from the beginning to learn a soon-to-be-popular language. Enjoy!