Sun Microsystems executives at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco have hailed the potential of the JavaFX RIA (rich Internet application) development and deployment platform, which was formally unveiled at JavaOne in May 2007.

Company executives set forth some firm product delivery dates for JavaFX and touted a couple of development projects: Project Hydrazine for cloud computing and Project Insight for collecting feedback on application usage.

To show Java's prominence in multimedia, rock icon Neil Young made an appearance onstage to promote his video and music catalog offering based on Java and Blu-ray technology. A Sun official also briefly commented on Sun's predicament in trying to put Java on the Apple iPhone, leaving the ball in Apple's court to help make that happen.

With JavaFX, Sun is set to take on rival platforms in the growing RIA space. Rival technologies such as Microsoft's Silverlight and Adobe's Flash platform also seek dominance.

"We're taking on the marketplace," with Java, said Sun president and CEO Jonathan Schwartz.

JavaFX enables application deployment across multiple types of interfaces, including devices. A demonstration showed a JavaFX application being moved right from the browser onto the desktop.

"In fact, [JavaFX] runs on all the screens of your life," said Rich Green, Sun executive vice president of software. JavaFX features components such as a runtime, a media codec framework, and the JavaFX Script scripting language.

Sun set forth a road map for JavaFX:

* In July, Sun will open the JavaFX Desktop SDK Early Access Program
* In the Autumn, JavaFX Desktop 1.0 ships.
* In the spring of 2009, the JavaFX Mobile and TV 1.0 variants will ship.

Sun officials also detailed Project Hydrazine, for cloud-based services. "It allows you to bring new services together, make them available, [and] provide them in a running cloud environment," Green said. Hydrazine is due after the release of JavaFX.

Another project on the horizon, Project Insight, enables JavaFX developers to communicate with their audiences via instrumented user action data. It will enable development of new strategies for ad placement.

The instrumentation service will allow developers and other third parties to collect information about how many people are using their applications and also send and receive information about patches and upgrades. Sun says it will be anonymous, meaning it will not collect personally identifiable information about end-users.

"It will be free for some portion of the developer community, and for some portion of commercial users, it will probably not be free," Schwartz said.

During the post-keynote press conference, Green gave a progress report on Sun's ongoing quest to put Java on the iPhone, something that Apple has not publicly, at least, supported.

Sun, Green said, is well along its way in creating the technology to enable Java to run on the phone, Green said. But he deferred to Apple, which governs which platforms can be distributed with the iPhone. It is Apple's right to decide this, Schwartz added.

Sun officials also repeated mantras about consumer technologies overtaking the enterprise, as they had in a presentation last month.

"Businesses used to drive the technology adoption, but today it is all about consumers," Green said. Sun plans to leverage JavaFX in the consumer application space.

(James Niccolai of IDG News Service, contributed to this report.)