JavaFX 2.0, an upgrade to the Java-based rich client platform that originated at Sun Microsystems, was made available in a beta form this week by the Java team at Oracle.

In its road map for JavaFX 2.0, Oracle cites introduction of Java APIs that open JavaFX capabilities to all Java developers without them having to learn a new scripting language. Previously, JavaFX Script has been proposed as scripting language for using JavaFX capabilities. The download page for JavaFX 2.0 beta release features an SDK, a runtime and a plugin for the NetBeans IDE.

"JavaFX provides a powerful and expressive Java-based UI platform capable of handling large scale, computationally intensive, data-driven business applications. JavaFX applications are completely developed in Java while leveraging the power of standards-based programming practices and design patterns," said Tori Wieldt in a Java Team blog post. "JavaFX provides a rich set of UI controls, graphics and media API with high performance hardware-accelerated graphics, web and media engines to simplify development of immersive visual applications."

Other areas of focus cited in the road map include the ability to embed HTML content within a Java application, media playback and improved deployment. Multithreading improvements are noted as well. Also, the JavaFX runtime is slated to start faster for simple and typical applications.

A hardware-accelerated graphics pipeline, named "Prism," targets DirectX on Windows platforms and OpenGL on other platforms. JavaFX 2.0 supports full screen video and a new implementation of animated transitions will reduce CPU load and allow for more concurrent animated transitions, the road map states.

Postponed features cited on the road map include grid layout from CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), CSS animations and an out-of-the-box control for playing media content. JavaFX is vying for developer share in a crowded rich client development market that already features not only Adobe Flash but Microsoft Silverlight the standards-based HTML5 platform.