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Reanimation Blog

Posted by chet May 23, 2009

Romain Guy and I will hit the stage again at JavaOne this year to talk about animation.

Our talk this year will be a bit different from past years. First of all, it will be less about nitty-gritty code and more about concepts as we explore higher-level ideas of animation and what we can learn and apply from traditional cartoon animation to animated GUIs. Secondly, Romain will be be dressed in a gorilla suit.

Our session is on Wednesday at 11:05 and again on Friday at 2:30 (this repeat session may be given in Esperanto).

I haven't had time to see what else is on for the week, but I did notice that there's a "Filthy Rich Clients" session on Thursday morning after the keynote. I've never seen this session from the audience point of view; I might check it out. Otherwise, I'll be floating around sessions that I won't be allowed into because I haven't bothered to pre-register for them. I will also be speaking, demoing, and generally hanging out at the Adobe booth. Stop by, say hi, bring chocolate cookies.

Now, back to working on demos for our talk.


Not Dead Yet Blog

Posted by chet Apr 22, 2008

Romain and I will be returning to JavaOne this year to give another talk this year. We thought about presenting on horticulture, or the effect of air travel on the Amazon rain forest, but in the end we decided at random to talk about this topic: Filthy Rich Clients: Filthier, Richer, Clientier. And though it was tempting to just present stuff we'd already written (with 550 pages of material in the book, there's a lot to, well, steal for presentations), we thought it would be more fun and to do new stuff. Who needs sleep? We hope you can make it to the session.

For anyone that signed up for the session already, we hope you got word that the conference has shuffled us out of our original slot on Tuesday and put us on Thursday afternoon instead (4:10 - 5:10 pm). Maybe they just realized that everyone enjoys pre-enrolling for sessions so much that they figured you'd want another chance to log in and see how that change affected your schedule. And if you didn't pre-register for the session yet, you might want to do so; I've heard that the room is filling up (It's not clear why - maybe it was the "free money!" mention in the abstract. Or maybe it's Romain's groupies. Again.).

There's other stuff happening as well. For one thing, there's an author signing for our book. Maybe someone can explain to me why you actually want us to deface your book. It's a nice book, clean and professional looking, and you want us to write in it? I understand having a famous author sign a book they wrote; heck, it'll be worth more when they're dead. But the authors of Filthy Rich Clients? The only thing worth more when I'm dead will be my life insurance policy. Anyway, we'll be there at the bookstore, signing anything you put in front of us except a blank check.

For other happenings that week, check out my other blog.


Crystal Methodology Blog

Posted by chet Jan 17, 2008

Not only am I a huge fan of software design patterns, I'm also strongly supportive ofprocess in software. Process makes us strong. Process enables us to achieve highly metric-driven quality levels. Process allows us to attend meetings throughout every day, ensuring that any coding time we get will be that much more intense because it is necessarily so short and focused. And finally, process allows us to draw pretty charts and graphs on endless presentations.

Or, as I like to say it every morning when I wake up, "SoftwareIs Process." For without the process, where would software engineers be but in their offices, cranking away code, pretending to be productive?

Now that people have had time to understand and incorporate the important patterns I discussed in my earlier Male Pattern Boldness article, it seems high time to tackle the larger topic of Software Processeseses. The field of Software Methodology is rife with theories, names, buzzwords, and descriptions that improve our tawdry geek lives constantly by letting us focus on that which makes us most productive: studying and then trying to implement completely new software processes to attempt the same job that we could have been actually doing in the meantime.


First, here is a historical perspective. Traditional software implementation was a rather simple and straightforward process, resembling something like the following:

Figure 1: Comprehensible, and therefore wrong, software process.

But this process was flawed by its inherent simplicity; if everyone could understand and follow it, what hope did the industry have in creating more meetings and process documentation? Changes were suggested for this methodology, resulting in more comprehensive models like this one:

Figure 2: More complicated, and therefore better, software process.

Eventually, some rogue elements of the community came up with a different process model, based on fundamental programming philosophies:

Figure 3: Simplified Software Process (SSP) model. Pretty dumb. Incredibly popular.

But the field has been somewhat quiet lately, leading to more coding than is really good for us, so I feel motivated to introduce some of my favorite new process models into the community. There are obvivously more than I can cover in a simple article like this, probably deserving an entire bookcase of unread tomes, but these will have to do for now as I have to go brainstorm with my team in an offsite about how we can be more effective (this week's task is to come up with a mission statement).


In the Scrumdevelopment model, the focus is on short iterations and constant communication. The Scum model, however, focuses on the individual. In particular, each engineer works completely on his or her own, producing code at an alarming rate. Changes are integrated and merged willy-nilly, causing untold breakage due to the complete lack of communication. At each fault, the offending code, putback, and engineer are indentified as scum and are tossed out of the project (this step is called "Hack-n-rack"). The resulting code and team are thereby better over time, having weaned out the weak members through natural selection.
As it's inventor, Dr. Feen Bookle, PhD, Mrs, QED, JRE, said at its unveiling at the Conference On Terribly Important Academic Philosophies and Theories on Software Process Methodology Discoveries (CTEAPTSPMD), "Scum will always float to the top. Skim it off and you've got just the juicy bits left. Plus the bottom-feeders."

Fragile Programming

As I mentioned in my earlier article, Fragile Programming is an important element of the Delicate software pattern. It is related to Agileprogramming, which is typified by small development cycles that are designed to meet the reality of constant requirements churn. But in the newer, and therefore better, Fragile methodology, each iteration is started from scratch based on only the latest requirements. Instead of building upon the existing code base, which has presumably attained some amount of stability and robustness through its existence and evolution, Fragile projects rewrite the entire project anew in each cycle, thus generating brand spanking new products that adhere more closely to the latest whim of the client. This process results in software that is tuned exactly to what the client asked for, and the resulting instability of the code base can thus be blamed directly on the client, allowing a convenient excuse for the failing development team.

Conference Drive Development (CDD)

This brave new methodology, suggested to me by Charles Nutter, looks like it has serious potential. As anyone who has ever developed software and demos for a conference before knows too well, there's nothing like a looming keynote or session deadline to enforce good coding standards, carefully thought-out APIs, and integrated feedback from the larger community. Developers typically end up at conferences with completely spec'd out products that only lack for a smattering of documentation before being released out onto the masses like white cat hair on a black sweater. It's just that whole "Quality" part of the release process that drags it down for the next couple of years and keeps it from being an instant product reality.
With the increasing volume of conferences around the world, I see CDD as becoming more and more interesting. Products that hinge releases upon the mad rush of pre-conference development will be able to ship new versions every month, or even faster. Sure, they'll go out with bugs, no documentation, and a complete lack of testing, but the demos will rock!

Rabid Application Development

Rapid Application Development helped move developers from the more stodgy development processes of earlier decades when people were dumber onto quicker models of development, based on fast prototyping work. Rabid Application Development takes this a step further. Instead of using prototypes as ideas to help with future, more stable work, the prototypes are the product, and are checked in as soon as they are complete, or in many cases, sooner. The key to Rabid Development is to keep the engineering team going at such a frenetic pace in coding and checking in code that nobody, including the client, ever realizes what a complete load of crap they've produced. This model is used throughout most university CS courses and has become the default process basis for all homework assignments. It is also the mainstay of software startups everywhere.


Developed as a response to the Waterfall model, where software goes through various stages of development during its life cycle, the Cliff model leaps suddenly from the starting point (known as the Hairbrained Idea) to the end (known as the Product, but informally referred to by Cliff teams as the Corpse). These projects are generally executed overnight with several pots of coffee by developers with no social lives. They start from an idea in a chat message during a World of Warcraft session and result in the engineers checking in the Corpse by the start of work the next morning.
No output of the Cliff model has ever been useable outside of negative case studies, but interest in this approach persists by those engineers still lacking in better things to do at 2 AM.


Related to Object Oriented Programming (OOP) methodologies, the Oops system seeks to develop reusuable objects, but never quite makes it. Previous components are never exactly what they need to be, thus requiring that the functionality be rewritten from scratch, resulting in a general "Oops!" exclamation from the teams involved. But as all engineers know, and all managers hate, it's always more fun writing things from scratch anyway. The Oops methodology is the one most favored by all programmers.

Clean Your Room (CYR)

This methodology comes as a response to the Cleanroom Software Engineering process, which strives to produce software whose quality can be certified. Clean Your Room, on the other hand, takes a different tack, basing its philosophy upon the teenage kid tenet: "Why should I clean my room when it's just going to get dirty again?" In this process, the focus is upon implementing cool, new features (called Wall Posters after the typical decorations in most teenager bedrooms) and not on tests, documentation, or bug-fixes. The belief with these other traditional elements of software products is that as the software changes, tests would be obsoleted, documentation would have to be rewritten, and new bugs would be introduced. So what's the point in doing the work twice? All CYR projects are run under the theory that eventually, when the product is completely done, the other non-coding aspects of the product will eventually be seen to (hopefully by someone else). Since no CYR project has ever reached completion, this has yet to be proven in practice.

Testosterone-Driven Development

Like its namesake Test-driven Development, which is known for the requirement of engineers writing tests before code, Testosterone-driven Development focuses on testing first. But it does so in an an extremely aggressive manner, requiring every engineer to produce entire test suites, test frameworks, and test scripting languages for every line of product code written, including whitespace and comments. Engineers violating this contract are taken out back where they have the crap kicked out of them. Any code found to have bugs not caught by tests results in the offending engineer having to go three rounds with the project manager (with the engineer being handcuffed and blindfolded during the match). Finally, any bug found in tests will result in the engineer's body never being found again.
Expectations are high from this newcomer to the field, although to date none of the products using this process has left any survivors.

I realize that the above list is quite a small sampling of the many wonderful methodologies which are possible. But I hope you will try at least some, or maybe even all, of these out in your team, throwing the entire project into disarray every couple of years while you reinvent everything. If you find either success or complete abject failure in your attempts, I encourage you to write a paper, speak at conferences, and publish books on the topic. Then form a consulting company that helps other development teams try to adopt the same methdologies.

Software products are a journey. They aren't just about the code you see at the end; they're about the path taken to get there. And the paths not taken. And the signs on the road. And the maps used. And the gas station attendants asked for directions when you got lost. And the hikes through the wilderness when you ran out of gas. And the ceaseless talk radio that your parents played while you got carsick in the back all over your sister. Process is the car that gets you there; you just need to pick the right one, pay too much for it, and then build it from scratch first.


Scene Graph: Demo-licious Blog

Posted by chet Jan 17, 2008

In the dark ages, before the Scene Graph project was public, development on the library was coupled with development of demo applications. These demos were written for various reasons: to test new functionality, to get a feel for the API and development experience, to have benchmarks for performance tuning, and to have stuff to show when we talked about it at conferences.

When we made the Scene Graph library public, we also wanted to make our demo applications public. But there was one big problem; unlike the library itself, we hadn't written those applications with the public, or even anyone but ourselves, in mind. And publishing code that you haven't actually sanity-checked can be unwise. So we posted the library with just the Nodes demo (quickly cleaned up for the occasion, like putting a tuxedo on a homeless guy), and the intention of going back to get the other demos in a publishable state.

Now, a month later, we think we're there; we've created a new project on to host all of our public demos, including the Nodes demo already published as well as the jPhone demo discussed in my previous blog entry. You can go to that project, run the demos, see the code, sync up to the source base, and play around with all of them.

Feedback (on the demos or the Scene Graph in general) should use the forums and aliases on the Scene Graph project, not the demos project (at least until we figure out how to disable those elements on that project). It's helpful to funnel all of the feedback through one channel.

So what are you reading this for? Go to the scenegraph-demosproject and enjoy the new stuff. It's demo-licious.

A few weeks ago, in a quest for more performance benchmarks, the scene graph team asked for a demo that was representative of some of the graphics and animations that might be typical in a consumer-oriented application.

I had run across an interesting video on the Apple site recently, iPhone: A guided tour. The device in the video had ideas of what we were looking for; fades, moves, scales, transitions... all the whizzy animations that consumers love. So I took a whack at doing something similar with the scene graph.

Introducing: JPhone:


Okay, so it's not really the same thing. For one thing, I just used some icons I had lying around which don't look as good at the large size required for this interface. I'd love to use the iPhone icons instead, but I'm still waiting for the Apple lawyers to call me back. And waiting. And waiting. (Steve?)

Also, I guess I have to admit it: the jPhone demo is not a phone. Even if you pick up your monitor and hold it next to your ear, all you'll hear is the sound of your brain screaming in pain from the pixel radiation. (And the ocean. Isn't it funny how you can always hear the ocean? Or maybe it's just sound waves.) But mimicking a phone wasn't the point; it was all about the user interface.

Finally, it'll become obvious when you start to use it that, well, there are no 'applications' behind the icons; it's just the same dummy screen that comes up again and again. But once more, my petty rationalization comes in handy; the demo was supposed to be about GUI animations, not actual functionality.

But hey, It's A Demo!

Anyway, on with the article. Note that my discussion below is all about the jPhone demo. I don't actually know how things operate under the hood on that phone thingie from Apple; all I know I learned from watching that video. But I do know how the jPhone demo works, so I'll stick to that.

The GUI: Main menu, tray menu, and applications

There are three different GUI areas in the display, used at different times. What I call the "main menu" is the grid of icons arrayed out across the first screen, starting at the top. Each of these icons accesses a different application (each of which looks uncannily similar in JPhone) when clicked. The "tray menu" at the bottom has four additional icons, which are much the same as the icons in the main menu, but for common functionality that the user might want to access more frequently. Finally, the "application" screens are those displays that come up after the user clicks an icon. For example, when the user clicks on the Calculator button, they probably expect a calculator application screen to become active.

Main Menu

The main menu of the application consists of a grid of icons, four columns wide. The menu is created in the cleverly-namedcreateMenu() method.

Each "icon" consists of both an image and a text caption. So for each icon object in the scene graph, we create anSGGroup to hold the children, an SGImageto hold the image of the icon, and an SGText object to hold the caption.

The group is created in a single line as follows:

        SGGroup imageAndCaption = new SGGroup();

The image node takes a few more lines, as we need to scale the image appropriately and then set the image on the node:


        SGImage icon = new SGImage();
        try {
            BufferedImage originalImage =
            BufferedImage iconImage = new BufferedImage(ICON_SIZE,
                            ICON_SIZE, BufferedImage.TYPE_INT_ARGB);
            Graphics2D gImage = iconImage.createGraphics();
            gImage.drawImage(originalImage, 0, 0, ICON_SIZE, ICON_SIZE,
        } catch (Exception e) {
            System.out.println("Error loading image: " + e);
(Note that our image scaling assumes that a one-step bilinear scale will give us sufficient quality, which it does in the case of up-scaling the smaller images we're using for icons. For a more general scaling solution that gives dependable quality and decent performance, check out Chris Campbell's article on The Perils of Image.getScaledInstance()).

The text node takes a few lines to set up the text rendering and location attributes appropriately:

        SGText textNode = new SGText();
        Rectangle2D rect = textNode.getBounds();
        textNode.setLocation(new Point2D.Double(
                (ICON_SIZE - rect.getWidth())/2, ICON_SIZE + 10));

To position each icon in the menu, and to allow the icon to be moved later when it animates, we create a transform node as the parent of the icon and add that node to the scene graph:

        SGTransform.Translate transformNode = SGTransform.createTranslation(xOffset, 
                yOffset, imageAndCaption);

Tray Menu

The tray menu, initialized in the createTray()method, consists of just four icons at the bottom of the screen. These icons are mostly like the main menu icons, although they have a different background and the animation they undergo during transitions is different, so there are differences in their setup.

First, the tray needs to be positioned on the screen, so the tray group needs an overall transform. Also, we will fade the tray in and out during transitions from and to the application screen, so the tray group also needs a filter node to handle fades. These nodes are set up as follows:

        final SGGroup trayGroup = new SGGroup();
        SGComposite opacityNode = new SGComposite();
        SGTransform trayTransform = SGTransform.createTranslation(0, 
                SCREEN_H - (1.5 * ICON_SIZE), trayGroup);

Next, we have an interesting background for the tray that consists of a basic gray gradient with a solid darker gray underneath the captions. We set this up with a couple of shape nodes and a transform node to position the darker area appropriately:

        // Set up the basic tray background
        SGShape trayBackground = new SGShape();
        trayBackground.setShape(new Rectangle(SCREEN_W, 
                (int)(ICON_SIZE * 1.5)));
        trayBackground.setFillPaint(new GradientPaint(0f, 0f, Color.DARK_GRAY,
                0f, (float)(ICON_SIZE * 1.5), Color.LIGHT_GRAY));
        // Set up the darker background for the captions
        SGShape captionBackground = new SGShape();
        captionBackground.setShape(new Rectangle(SCREEN_W, 20));
        captionBackground.setFillPaint(new GradientPaint(0f, 0f, Color.DARK_GRAY,
                0f, 10f, Color.GRAY));
        SGTransform captionBGTransform = SGTransform.createTranslation(0, 
                (1.5 * ICON_SIZE) - 22, captionBackground);

The icons themselves are set up just like those for the main menu, adding themselves to the trayGroup object created above; I'll skip the details since the code is similar to what we saw earlier for the main menu icons.


The application objects, created in the createApp()method, are simply images. The only interesting part about them is the animation of scaling and fading in and out as they become active and inactive. We load and scale the application image just like we did for the icons in createMenu() above, so I won't show that code here. We then add filter nodes for opacity and for scaling, so that we can fade and scale the application screen during animations:

        // App screen is just an image, scaled/faded in when it becomes active
        final SGImage photo = new SGImage(); 
        // ... code to load/scale/set image removed for brevity ...
        SGComposite opacityNode = new SGComposite();
        AffineTransform fullScale = new AffineTransform();
        AffineTransform smallScale = 
                SCREEN_W/2, SCREEN_H/2);
        smallScale.scale(.1, .1);
        smallScale.translate(-SCREEN_W/2, -SCREEN_H/2);
        SGTransform scaleNode = SGTransform.createAffine(smallScale, opacityNode);
        fullScale = new AffineTransform();

Note that the application node starts out invisible (because it is hidden until triggered by a mouse click on one of the menu icons), completely transparent (until it is faded in), and scaled to 10% of its true size (until it is scaled in during a later animation).


The objects set up above were necessary, but the fun part is really the animations that drive the application. The animations are all triggered based on user clicks. A click on the main menu icons will run animations on the main menu, the tray menu, and the application screen simultaneously. A click on the application screen will run all of the same animations - in reverse. Let's see how we set up and run these animations. There are two Timelines create to run these animations (recall from an earlier blog entry that Timeline is a convenient grouping mechanism for animations):

        Timeline menuOutTimeline = new Timeline();
        Timeline menuInTimeline = new Timeline();

Main Menu Animation

The interesting part in the main menu animation is in trying to guess what's going on in the Apple video (and the iPhone interface). As an engineer, I would expect the icons to move in a linear fashion, sliding horizontally or vertically, perhaps the same every time, or maybe with the direction set based on which icon was clicked. In fact, one of the engineers on the team once rewrote my animation code to do just that, assuming that there was a bug in my code and I must have meant to have this straight-line animation instead of the effect I had implemented.

But if you look closely at the video (or, heck, at that iPhone you have in your pocket), you'll see that the icons move in diagonal trajectories off of the screen, all shooting off in different directions. For example, here's a stop-action view captured from the video:

iPhoneAnim1crop.jpg iPhoneAnim2crop.jpg iPhoneAnim3crop.jpg

iPhoneAnim4crop.jpg iPhoneAnim5crop.jpg iPhoneAnim6crop.jpg

Also, it looks the same every time, no matter which icon is clicked. I would then assume (and have implemented the code this way in jPhone) that the icons all shoot away from one central point on the screen. But that doesn't appear to be the case.

Anyway, I think the animation for jPhone's main menu looks pretty good, if not exactly what they happen to do on that other device.

The basic idea in jPhone is to calculate the movement vector based on some movement "center" (xCenter, yCenter) and the location of each icon (xOffset, yOffset):

        double xDir = xOffset - xCenter;
        double yDir = yOffset - yCenter;

We can then calculate the new offscreen position of the icon (xOffscreen, yOffscreen) using this direction vector (I won't show that code here for brevity, but it basically sets an offscreen value in one coordinate (x or y) and then calculates the other coordinate based on the direction vector).

Finally, we can create an animation that will move the icon from its position in the main menu to this offscreen position as follows:

        Clip iconClip = Clip.create(MENU_OUT_TIME,
                transformNode, "translateX", xOffscreen);
                new BeanProperty(transformNode, "translateY"), 

The transformNode object being animated is the filter node in charge of the icon location, so this animation will alter the translateX and translateYproperties of that object during the animation. Similarly, we create the opposite animation to move the icon back to its original location from where it's residing offscreen:

        iconClip = Clip.create(MENU_IN_TIME,
                transformNode, "translateX", xOffset);
                new BeanProperty(transformNode, "translateY"), 

Tray Menu Animation

Tray menu animation is simpler; we just fade the tray out and back in when applications become active or inactive. To fade the tray out, we create an animation on the opacityproperty of the opacityNode object that we created earlier:

        Clip fader = Clip.create((int)MENU_OUT_TIME, opacityNode, 
                "opacity", 1f, 0f);
        fader.addTarget(new TimingTargetAdapter() {
            public void end() {

Note that we're actually doing two things here; we're fading out the node from opaque to completely transparent, and we're setting the visibility of the node to false when the animation ends. The visibility property of nodes controls whether the nodes process events or try to render themselves; since the node will be completely transparent when it is faded out completely, it doesn't make sense for it to participate in either events or rendering.

When an application becomes inactive, we run the reverse animation on the tray menu to make it visible and fade it in:

        fader = Clip.create((int)MENU_IN_TIME, opacityNode, 
                "opacity", 0f, 1f);
        fader.addTarget(new TimingTargetAdapter() {
            public void begin() {

Application Animation

Finally, we need to animate the application screen. These animations are similar to what we've seen before, although in this case we are both fading and scaling the application screen:

        final Timeline appAnims = new Timeline();
        Clip fader = Clip.create((int)MENU_OUT_TIME, opacityNode, 
                "opacity", .1f, 1f);
        Clip scaler = Clip.create((int)MENU_OUT_TIME, scaleNode, 
                "affine", smallScale, fullScale);
        fader.addTarget(new TimingTargetAdapter() {
            public void begin() {

The application animation is also how we start tying the different animations and events together. First of all, we kick off the overall menuOutTimeline animation from the application animation by scheduling it as a dependent animation of the application's fader Clip, as follows:


Next, we add an attribute to each icon that tells it which animation it is associated with:

        appIcon.putAttribute("startAnim", appAnims);

Finally, we add a mouse listener to each icon that will listen for clicks and start the animation appropriate for that icon:


where the mouse listener is defined to start the animation that we stored as an attribute on the icon in question:

        SGMouseListener appStartListener = new SGMouseAdapter() {
            public void mouseClicked(MouseEvent e, SGNode n) {
                Animation a = (Animation) n.getAttribute("startAnim");

We do similarly for the reverse animation for the application (I'll skip that code for brevity and added surprise and excitement).


Chris might prefer that I not mention this detail, since the final API for the scene graph will hopefully make this step irrelevant, but for now the only way to animate transforms such as the moves and scales shown above is for the animation engine to know how to interpolateAffineTransform objects. It does not know how to do this by default (because, frankly, it's not typically the way you would want to interpolate between positions and orientations; it can produce unexpected results, thus the need for better functionality in the API eventually). So we need to add this capability to the application. We do this by creating aTransformComposer object that tells the system how to interpolate between AffineTransform objects, and we register the composer as follows:

        static {
            Composer.register(AffineTransform.class, TransformComposer.class);

I won't go into the details of TransformComposerhere, but see my earlier blog entry on the animation system and theComposer JavaDocs on the Scene Graph project site to understand more about Composer. Basically, a customComposer simply converts between an arbitrary type and an array of double values, which the base Composerclass then knows how to linearly interpolate between.


That's mostly it. If you run the application and click on the icons you can see the fading, moving, and scaling animations all working together to show a nice, smooth transition between the menu and application screens.

Of course, in demos enough is never enough. So we decided to put in one more element for fun.

In the Apple video, you'll notice that many of the demos they show are run by this disembodied hand. It could be the Hand of God, but I don't think that Steve was in the video. Besides, the hand isn't wearing a black turtleneck.


It seemed like our demo needed an element like that, so we created the handCursor node.

Handy Cursor

Custom cursors are fairly easy in Java, but they are also fairly limited. In particular, your cursor image is limited to 32x32, which doesn't really give us the effect we were looking for. I want a hand, not a hand-shaped wart. We need a friggin' huge cursor.

In a traditional Swing application, we could manage this using the glass pane, displaying an arbitrary image in that overlay on top of the application GUI. But the scene graph makes this even easier; we just need a shape node.

First things first: we need to manage the real Swing cursor. Since we cannot use the actual cursor as our hand, we will instead make the real cursor invisible with the following code, so that if we can't make the cursor do what we really want, we can at least get it out of the way:

        BufferedImage emptyImage = new BufferedImage(32, 32,
        invisibleCursor = Toolkit.getDefaultToolkit().
                createCustomCursor(emptyImage, new Point(0, 0), "empty");

Next, we will create our handCursor object, parent it to the root node, and add it as aMouseMotionListener on the application as follows:

        handNode = new HandCursor(rootNode);

I won't show the entire HandCursor class (it's frankly not interesting enough), but the basics are as follows: First, we load the hand image and scale it to an appropriate size (using code similar to that shown earlier for the menu icons). Next, we create an SGImage node and a transform node (for moving it), and parent the transform node to the root node. We also make the shape invisible at first, since the hand cursor is not showing by default:

        handNode = new SGImage();
        handTransform = SGTransform.createTranslation(0, 0, handNode);

When the application frame detects that the key "h" has been typed, it makes the default cursor invisible and the hand cursor visible with the following:


Now, all we have to do is track the mouse position and display the hand node appropriately:

        public void mouseMoved(MouseEvent me) {
            mouseX = me.getX();
            mouseY = me.getY();
            handTransform.setTranslation(mouseX - 160, mouseY - 5);

(where the hard-coded numbers in setTranslation()position the "hotspot" of the hand cursor at the tip of the index finger).


That's pretty much it. There's more code in JPhone, but I think I've covered all of the interesting scene graph-related pieces above. Play with it, check out the code, and write a phony scene graph application of your own.

jPhoneAnim1.jpg jPhoneAnim2.jpg jPhoneAnim3.jpg jPhoneAnim4.jpg jPhoneAnim5.jpg

Related Information

JPhone Demo: a Java Web Start application the source code for the main demo class the source code for the custom composer helper class

Scene Graph Demos: The project site for all of the Scene Graph demos posted by the team (including JPhone)

(This is the conclusion of a two-parter that was begun last week and split in half for no particularly good reason. If you didn't read last week's entry yet, please do. I'll wait. ... Now, are you ready? Then let's get started.)

New Stuff

Most of the changes between TimingFramework and the scene graph animation library are tweaks on existing functionality, as described above. But there is also new functionality in the scene graph animation engine. Some of it is functionality that we have wanted in the TimingFramework for some time - we just happened to get around to it in this animation engine first.


The Timeline class is probably the biggest new thing since the Timing Framework. It adds a crucial missing piece of functionality from the original library: the ability to group animations, schedule them in a coordinated fashion, and use one, single heartbeat for all animations.

"Nice Grouping!"

The previous approach of daisy-chaining animations one-by-one with TimingTrigger was quite useful for individual sequences of animations. And the newaddBeginAnimation()/addEndAnimation() methods of Clip enhance this capability significantly. But it's still not what you want for larger systems with entire groups of animations that need to be coordinated. Instead, you want some way to create groups of animations that operate on a single timeline relative to each other and then schedule that group appropriately with other animations or other animation groups. This functionality makes it much easier to build up more complex and interdependent models of animations.

Timeline enables this capability by allowing you to schedule animations on a given Timeline relative to when the Timeline itself starts. So, for example, if you want to fire off animations a, b, and c 100, 200, and 300 ms after some even occurs, then you can schedule these animations on a single Timeline and start the Timeline when that event occurs:

            // Create the animation group
            Timeline timeline = new Timeline();
            timeline.schedule(a, 100);
            timeline.schedule(b, 200);
            timeline.schedule(c, 300);
            // Later, when the event occurs

"Two Hearts Beat as One"

One of the biggest recurring constraints that I ran up against with the TimingFramework was the fact that each Animator started its own Swing Timer by default. You could change this behavior, with the late-addition class TimingSource, but it wasn't a convenient way to get what you really wanted: a single timer for the whole system. You could also get a single-timer kind of behavior by adding multiple TimingTargets to a single Animator, but this approach only works easily in situations where you want similar timing and behavior characteristics from all of these targets; for example, animations of different durations or interpolation are difficult to synchronize in this way.

What the system really needed was a single timing source that sent a heartbeat pulse to all animations. Each animation could then turn that pulse into an appropriate timing fraction, just as Animator does with its internal Swing Timer events. But there are a couple of excellent reasons why the single-pulse-generator model is superior to the multiple-Swing-Timer approach:

  • Synchronized animations: If you have several animations in the system that are affecting the GUI, or are otherwise related in some way, you probably want them all to receive their timing events at the same time instead of at slightly different times because their internal Timers are kicking off at different intervals. Coordinating rendering changes in the single GUI display is a Good Thing; each element animating separately from everything else around it could contribute to a more chaotic user experience.
  • Resolution and frame rate: Anyone that worked through the gorey details in the Resolution section of chapter 12 of Filthy Rich Clients(or anyone that's just worked closely with the Swing Timer) knows that the performance of that Timer is often gated by constraints on the native platform. For example, on Windows XP, the Swing Timer typically has an inter-event rate of about 16 milliseconds. This is because that's the highest rate achievable by the native low-resolution timer upon which the Swing Timer depends (through its use of Object.wait()). This problem is compounded when there are several Timers firing off at the same time, because the timing events are all gated by that underlyingwait() resolution, and cannot actually process thewait()'s in parallel.
    For example, say you have one Animator that you'd like to set up with a resolution of 10 ms. On Windows XP, you'd actually get timing events at a resolution of 16 ms instead. Now, suppose you create a second Animator, also with a resolution of 10 ms. Since the underlying Swing Timer processes the timing events one by one, and since the gating resolution of the timer is what it is, you'll actually end up with an effective resolution of 32 ms for each of these Animators.
    Now consider the model of the new animation engine, where there is just one single underlying timer running, sending out timing pulses to all animations in the system. This is more like the multiple-TimingTargets-per-Animator model where the only gating factor in resolution is that of the core timer itself, not how many Animators are waiting for the timing events.

Both of these capabilities of Timeline, grouping and the system-wide heartbeat, are managed through the variousschedule() methods of Timeline. You schedule an animation to run with some offset from the beginning of a Timeline, and the Timeline ensures that that animation will start when it needs to and thereafter receive the master heartbeat events from the system. You can schedule other animations all on that same Timeline or on other Timelines and then schedule the Timelines themselves to start when appropriate.

            Timeline t1 = new Timeline();
            // ... schedule animations on Timeline t1 ...
            Timeline t2 = new Timeline();
            // ... schedule animations on Timeline t2 ...
            // Timeline t3 = new Timeline();
            // schedule t1 to start 100 ms after t3 starts
            t3.schedule(t1, 100);
            // schedule t2 to start 200 ms after g3 starts
            t3.schedule(t2, 200);
            // start t3

An important point to note here is that Timelines and Clips may both be scheduled on a Timeline. The schedule()methods actually take an Animation parameter, where Animation is a superclass of both Clip and Timeline. So a Timeline itself can be started relative to some point in another Timeline. In this way, we can create hierarchical groups of animations that are automatically triggered according to how we scheduled them together.


One constraint of the TimingFramework is that while time could be interpolated non-linearly (using a non-linear Interpolator object), space was always interpolated linearly. For example, if you set up an animation between points (x0, y0) and (x1, y1), then the system would interpolate intermediate (x, y) points linearly between these points; all points calculated by the system (by the old Evaluator class) would lie along a straight line drawn between the two endpoints.

The new MotionPath class makes it possible to create keyframes, and an Evaluator to interpolate between them, for curved paths.

What Now? Whither TimingFramework?

A logical question to ask now is, what about the Timing Framework? Is there a future in that project? Or should I start using the scene graph animation library instead?

I think the answer to these questions is still being figured out (since the scene graph library itself is still very much in-development), but here are a couple of reasonable ways to think about it, depending on your timeframe:


The TimingFramework is in good shape in general. There was a reason that I declared it 1.0 (I didn't just randomly decide to add .44 to the previous release numbered 0.56). So please continue to use it as you see fit in your work for now. There are some minor issues that crop up occasionally that should probably be addressed in that library (although I admit I have been a bit preoccupied on Scene Graph and other things for a while and haven't been as responsive to issues as I'd like).

Scene Graph animation, on the other hand, is very much in flux right now. We're reasonably happy with the functionality of the library, but I wouldn't be shocked to see some more refactoring take place as we continue working on the Scene Graph project in general. So while I encourage you to take a look at it and play around with it, I wouldn't bet on the current implementation of it quite yet.


I think (and this is where it gets fuzzy, because we're a bit busy focusing on the short-term right now and just trying to finish up the Scene Graph library in general) that the scene graph animation engine, or something very like it, will probably be the single library for animation eventually. It just doesn't make sense to have two such libraries, at least not coming out of the same group at Sun and not when one is essentially a subset of the other. When we get there and what the eventual, single library looks like when we're there is still a mystery. But long term, I see these libraries converging, and probably looking more like the Scene Graph version than Timing Framework.

But in the meantime, please use the Timing Framework while you investigate and starting playing with the Scene Graph animation engine. Send us feedback on what we could improve to make sure that the library we eventually end up with supports what you need from it.

By the Way

With all of this power to do cool, whizzy animations in Desktop Java applications, I'm thinking that "Scene Graph" isn't really a good enough name. Here's a possible alternative that I'm proposing, as of now:


But it still feels like something's missing. Maybe it's just not graphic enough.


Been There, Scene That Blog

Posted by chet Jan 4, 2008

(This is Part 1 of a two-part blog. It's been broken in two for no particularly good reason other than it was getting a bit long for a single entry and I always like a bit of suspense and tension in my technical articles - don't you? . Look for Part 2 in the next few days)

You may have already heard about the Scene Graph project that we released last month on

In case you haven't heard about it yet, here's some information about it:

We released the project last month on

Since the team was pretty busy at the time (I was at JavaPolis talking about the project, among other things, and the team was cranking away on the actual code), we haven't really gotten around to blogging about it yet to tell people more about the project (hey, the code's out there - does anyone need anything more?). Fortunately for us, Josh seems to blog in his sleep, so there's at least been some information floating out there in the blogosphere. But maybe now that the library is available, we should actually talk about it to help everyone understand what it is, how it works, and what you can do with it.

Hans Muller is working an intro/overview on the subject. Chris Campbell has a blog in the works on scene graph image effects. And I was tasked with (surprise, surprise) a discussion of animation.


I think that the best way to describe the animation engine in the scene graph project is that it is like the next major version of the Timing Framework. Maybe it's because I'm a graphics geek, but I always find it easier to understand concepts through pictures. So here's a technical diagram illustrating how the scene graph animation engine relates to the Timing Framework. It's a bit technical, but hopefully you'll get the point.


The similarlity between the two libraries is not, obviously, a coincidence. We started with the 1.0 version of the Timing Framework and changed it to suit our needs for the scene graph, where "suit our needs" means that we refactored the API to improve upon various things and added functionality that has so far been lacking in the Timing Framework.

Rather than explain how the Timing Framework works, I'd encourage you to check out the project, the docs linked on the project site, the demos for that project, and the copious other amounts of information on the library (including demos, chapters in the Filthy Rich Clients book, and so on). I'll assume that anyone reading past here has some passing familiarity with the Timing Framework.

I'll step through the major categories of differences between the TimingFramework and this new animation library, to give a sense of what's new in the scene graph. I'll show some sample code along the way, although I'd encourage you to check out the Nodes example on the scene graph siteto see animation usage in action.

Refactoring: What's Changed?

Clip is the new Animator

After living for way too long with the bureaucratically dull name TimingController that came from the original version of the Timing Framework, we finally renamed that class to the friendlier Animator name that the library enjoys today in version 1.0. But now it's changed again. That class, the most fundamental in the whole library, is now calledClip. This was done to help people that might be familiar with the concepts covered by that class in other toolkits and environments where the name Clip is common. It's also closer to what the object is; yes, it animates things, but it's really just a short, atomic animation which is meant to be strung together with other animations in an application, much like short clips are edited together to make an entire movie (or, in the case of the Fantastic Four sequel, to make a travesty).

Besides, Clip saves 4 characters every time you type it. Pretty cool, huh? That's like several milliseconds of coding time per day that we've saved you, our user. All part of the job, providing service and performance with a smiley.

Clip has a handful of factory methods for the common cases:

            create(int duration, double repeatCount, Object target, 
                   String property, T... keyValues)

            create(int duration, double repeatCount, Property property, T... keyValues)

            create(int duration, double repeatCount, TimingTarget target)

            create(int duration, Object target, String property, 
                   T... keyValues)

            create(int duration, Property property, T... keyValues)

            create(int duration, TimingTarget target)

(The Property object will be explained later, but think of it as a replacement for the previous PropertySetter object in the Timing Framework).

Like Animator, Clips begin running when the start() method is called (although Clip also has more involved and powerful scheduling capabilities, discussed later):

            // Fade in myObject over a half second
            Clip clip = Clip.create(500, myObject, "opacity", 0f, 1f);

PropertySetter is now BeanProperty

The old way of having the animation engine automatically set object/property values was through the PropertySetter class, which was constructed with a given object and property-name pair. We felt that this was a bit too constrictive in a world where there might be other ways that one might want to set values on objects; what if someone has an object without JavaBean-like getter/setters on it?

So we defined a new interface, Property, that abstracts out the concepts and methods for getting and setting the value of some property.

            public interface Property<T> {
                public <T> getValue();
                public void setValue(T value);

Then we refactored the old PropertySetter class as the new class BeanProperty, which is an implementation of that interface that specifically defines properties in terms of JavaBean objects/name pairs.

            public class BeanProperty<T> implements Property<T> {
        public BeanProperty(Object object, String propertyName);

                public <T> getValue();
                public void setValue(T value);

Also, note that we separated the functionality of setting values on a Property object from animating those values. These concepts overlapped in the previous PropertySetter object, which was an implementation of TimingTarget and handled both animating the value in question as well as setting it on the specified object. Now, the new KeyFrames object handles animating a property, and the resulting value is then sent into the appropriate Property object.


One of my favorite refactorings from the TimingFramework was the change that Chris Campbell made to interpolators. The base interface, Interpolator, is the same:

            public interface Interpolator {
                public float interpolate(float fraction);

The change is that there used to be several implementation classes of Interpolator (LinearInterpolator,DiscreteInterpolator, andSplineInterpolator), and now there is just one class, Interpolators, that provides five factory methods for different types of interpolators:

            public class Interpolators {
                static Interpolator getLinearInstance();
                static Interpolator getDiscreteInstance();
                static Interpolator getSplineInstance(float x1, float y1, float x2, float y2);

                static Interpolator getEasingInstance();
                static Interpolator getEasingInstance(float acceleration, float deceleration);

The linear, discrete, and spline interpolators are virtually the same as before, in both construction and operation. But there is now an additional "easing" variety that takes the place of thesetAcceleration()/setDeceleration()behavior in the old Animator class. This simplifies the use of acceleration/deceleration, and makes it more consistent with the use of other interpolator functionality.

Also, note that Clip uses an easing interpolator by default (with the default factors of .2f/.2f), as opposed to the old linearly-interpolated Animator object. Linear interpolation makes more sense as a default from an analytical standpoint (it seems less arbitrary than some particular choice of easing factors), but frankly most of the animations that you'll create should be non-linearly interpolated, which means that you would either not get the behavior you should if you used the linear default or (as in all of my animation demos) you'd have to keep writing the same boilerplate code to set the easing factors to get the behavior right.


The previous structure of KeyFrames was closely modeled on the SMILapproach, where there was a list of n KeyTimes, a list of n KeyValues which corresponded to the times in KeyTimes, and an optional list of (n-1)Interpolators for the intervals between the times in KeyTimes. The basic functionality of that system is unchanged, but it has been reorganized in a way that we think makes more sense for the API.

Now there is a KeyFrame object which holds a time/value pair as well as an optional Interpolator. The Interpolator is used for the interval between the previous KeyFrame and this one (which is ignored if this is the first KeyFrame, since there is no preceding interval). AKeyFrames object in the new system is just a collection of these individual KeyFrame objects. There is also more latitude now for creating animations without start/end values. For example, if a KeyFrames object is defined without a KeyFrame object at time t=0, then the animation derives the value att=0 when the animation is started. Additionally, if there is no KeyFrame at time t=1, then the animation simply holds the value set by the preceding KeyFrame.

KeyFrames implement the TimingTarget interface, and are used as targets of an animation to animate a value and then set it on the Property object with which they were constructed. Note that KeyFrames objects are created either with an explicit Property object or with the object/property pair that is used to construct a BeanProperty object internally:

            static KeyFrames<T> create(Object target, String propertyName, KeyFrame<T>... keyFrames);
            static KeyFrames<T> create(Object target, String propertyName, T... keyValues);
            static KeyFrames<T> create(Property<T> property, KeyFrame<T>... keyFrames);
            static KeyFrames<T> create(Property<T> property, T... keyValues);

Evaluator is now Composer

The system in TimingFramework to handle interpolation between values of various types uses the Evaluator class (or, rather, subclasses of Evaluator). Each Evaluator subclass is defined to take values of a certain type, a fraction to interpolate between then, and would linearly interpolate between those values. Chris abstracted this functionality another level and created theComposer class. It performs similar functionality, but only requires from its subclasses the work of breaking down a type into component pieces that are stored in double values. That is, the Evaluator class internally handles the simple parameteric calculation that interpolates between two double values. All that Composer and its subclasses need to do is to marshall values between their native representation and a representation in a series of doubles.

As in the TimingFramework, most types that you would care about animating are already handled by the system. But if you do need to animate a variable of a type that is unknown to the system, then you need to create your own Composer subclass and register it with the system. It will then be used whenever the system encounters that type and looks for an appropriate Composer. Instead of putting sample code for a here, I'll just defer to the JavaDocs and the source code, which do a good job of showing what any new subclass would need to do in order to work within this system. But assuming you've defined some custom Composer, MytypeComposer, registration is easy:

            Composer.register(new MytypeComposer());

TimingTrigger is replaced by Clip dependency scheduling

One piece of functionality that is completely gone is the oldTimingTrigger. This class is the mechanism for sequencing animations in the Timing Framework; you daisy-chain animations by triggering one animation to start when another ended. But now, the Clip class has this capability built-in, with more bells and whistles. Instead of going through a Trigger to sequence animations, you can tell the animations directly that you want to sequence them on each other. Also, there is more flexibility in how the animations are sequenced; you can schedule an animation to start on another animation's start or end, and can do either one with a specified offset value.

            addBeginAnimation(Animation anim);
            addBeginAnimation(Animation anim, long offset);

            addEndAnimation(Animation anim);
            addEndAnimation(Animation anim, long offset);         

(where Animation is the superclass of both Clip and the as-yet-undiscussed Timeline class).

So, for example, you can have clipB start 100 ms after clipA ends with the following call:

   clipA.addEndAnimation(clipB, 100);

Minor Changes

There are various minor changes to the system that you will notice as you try it out. It's not worth going through all of these (because it'd take me a long time to go over the API to catch all of these changes, for one thing), but they should be fairly self-explanatory when you encounter them. For example, the oldAnimator.INFINITE constant, which was used, for example, to define unending animations has becomeClip.INDEFINITE. Not a big change, but it seemed more semantically correct.

(That's it for this entry - check back next week for the gripping conclusion to this discussion, as we go over some of the new bits in the scene graph animation library that are not now part of the Timing Framework)


My JavaPolis07 Slides Blog

Posted by chet Dec 20, 2007

I just returned (after a couple of long and fun flights, described on my other blog posting) from JavaPolis, a fantastic conference on all things Java (and some not) in Antwerp, Belgium.

I know what you're thinking: "I wish I could visit northern Europe in December. It's such a gray, wet, cold time of year." And you're right. I found Antwerp particularly inviting to visit with all of the warmest clothes I own; light, cotton articles that are able to sustain freezing California temperatures down to nearly 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

It's true that JavaPolis does not suffer the weather distractions of events in other cities such as San Francisco, Orlando, or Duluth. It's like what a friend of mine said who worked for a large software company in Redmond, Washington. Everyone there works long hours because, well, there's not much reason to go outside between, like, September and June. So you might as well stay in the office and keep hacking. At JavaPolis, you might as well attend another session. Or have another Belgian beer.  Try the Lambic. Or the Geuze. Or the Kriek (cherry-flavored Geuze), if you can find one that's not too sweet.

You should try to attend next year, but register early - it sold out this year. It definitely has the highest chair-comfort-per-Euro of any conference I've been to . Swank movie theaters are awesome for this kind of event. Unless you're the presenter, in which case you have the distinct impression that the entire audience is sleeping through your talk because everyone's settled so comfortably and quietly into their seats.

I'll let other bloggerscover the spectrum of what they saw at the conference. I will just stick to posting my presentations here in case anyone's interested. Note that the Scene Graph and Filthy Makeover sessions will eventually be online in video form at; think of these presentations as placeholders until the real deal is posted.

Scene Graph: This presentation was at the end of Richard Bair's university day session, entitled "Swinging RIAs." It's an introduction to the new Scene Graph project posted on, which is a module of the Java FX platform and is now available in early early [early] access form for Java developers.

Filthy Makeover: This presentation was a combination of prior Filthy Rich Clients and as Extreme GUI Makeover talks (from the past couple of JavaOne conferences). The talk covered a sampling of filthy rich techniques and then showed them in action in the context of larger applications from the GUI Makeover talks. Then I walked through some code in the editor to show how, when you get right down to it, the code to enable the effects in real applications is pretty darn close to the code as described for filthy rich clients. The video for this presentation should be particularly interesting, or at least more involved than the slides here, since much of the new content for the talk was in the interactive demos and code walkthroughs, which are represented in this slide deck by less informative "Demo" slides.

Future Java Consumer Releases: This BOF was about the upcoming Update N and Java FX releases, and discussed the various features going into these releases. There won't be a video of this talk (BOF's don't get that special treatment), but the slides are hopefully self-explanatory.


Review Review Blog

Posted by chet Nov 15, 2007

I don't like to toot my own horn, but I'm happy if others happen to toot it for me.

Geertjan Wielenga has posted a review of Filthy Rich Clients on his blog.

If you're still wondering whether this book is for you, check out the review. Geertjan does the best job I've seen yet of describing the content and the reasons why any Swing developer should read it.

Or if you're still wondering what Swing is and what book I'm talking about, then I have no idea what you're doing here to begin with. But I'd encourage you to get the book anyway.


Of Pros and QCons Blog

Posted by chet Nov 9, 2007

I spent Wednesday at QCon, in San Francisco, giving a presentation on Java's new consumer focus and participating on a panel with the auspicious title, What Will the Future of Java Development Be?.

I wrote a bit about one of the panel discussions for The Register, so I won't repeat that stuff here. Instead, I wanted to just repeat my favorite question that came up that evening. It was in my original article for The Register, but it got edited out (maybe it was too off-topic). Lucky for me I have this other outlet specifically designed for off-topic topics. So here it is:

A good language changes the way we think about programming. What language change would you like to see that would change the way we think?"


I found the question itself confusing. I mean, if I could imagine something that would change the way I thought, then wouldn't I already think that way? It seemed like I could easily fall into an infinite recursion loop, overrun my stack, and have a brain fault.

All of us had to answer that one, so I mumbled out something about improving the overall platform (not just the language). But mostly, I was busy trying to reboot my brain.

The presentation that Doug Felt, Phil Race, and I did in 2005 has the best description+diagrams of text measurement in Java 2D that I have seen. It's so useful, in fact, that I put a link to the talk in one of the footnotes of the book (footnote 15, p. 78). (By the way, the great text descriptions were all due to Phil and Doug - I was just blathering on about graphics and animation, which should come as a shock to absolutely nobody).

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the link was dead and that the presentation is no longer available on the JavaOne site. Apparently, there is a 2-year-archive policy, so all of the 2005 presentations are no longer stored. Maybe they figure that content that old can't possibly be relevant anymore, but for presentations on APIs that live longer than 2 years, that's not necessarily true.

Anyway, I am posting the talk here mostly so that I can post a hopefully more permanent link in a corrected footnote (for the third printing, which is apparently going to press soon!). But I encourage you to take a look at the presentation if you're interested in text measurement (or Graphics Effects or Text Rendering or Printing, which we also cover in the slides). People that follow my blog and book will see some earlier versions of Filthy Rich topics in my slides. For example, the original work in Animated Transitionscame out of work related to this presentation - it just took a bit more time to settle down into the utility library that is discussed in the book and published on the project site. I was already thinking about filthy rich content; I just needed a catchy name for it...

Here's the presentation: Advanced Java 2D for Desktop Applications.


The JavaOne Call for Papers deadline always sneaks up on me. It's like jet lag; one minute you're productively cranking out code, then suddenly you're asleep on the keyboard, drooling on the spacebar.

Like previous years, we want to encourage as much external participation in the conference as possible. We know there are great Desktop Java applications being written and deployed out in the real world; we'd like you to come talk about them at the conference. Case studies, techniques, tricks, in-depth discussions of technologies, frameworks and architectures for productive development, whizzy cool effects - anything that others want to learn about is fair game.

You only have until November 16th (that's next Friday for anyone currently time-confused by the Daylight Savings Time switch last weekend), so get your abstracts in now. Submitting a proposal isn't that much work - you just need to put enough information in the abstract and the outline in order for the track team to be able to understand what you're covering, how your going to do it, and why people would want to attend the talk.

So wake up, wipe the drool off the keyboard, and submit that proposal. Help us create and present a great Desktop track this year!


Male Pattern Boldness Blog

Posted by chet Oct 25, 2007

Longtime readers of my blog will know that I'm a huge fan of Design Patterns. Patterns wrap complex architectures with simplistic descriptions. They create wonderful buzzwords that we can use instead of resorting to actual human language descriptions. And they help enforce that feeling that we're all a part of an elite clique shunned by society not by their choice, but by ours.

So it is with much happiness and joy (refer to the Joyous Configuration pattern for more background on this emotion) that I hereby announce more patterns to help the software community in the tedious and underappreciated lives that we lead.


The Refactory pattern, a spin-off of the earlier Factory pattern, is useful for engineering teams that enjoy the infinite redesign cycle of software. While the code may work perfectly well in some configuration, chances are great that the entire code base can be completely refactored to have the same functionality, but with different class hierarchies, indenting styles, and naming conventions. This pattern provides for such standard refactoring methods as arbitraryRename(),codeRestyler(),classHierarchyFlattener(), andclassHierarchyExpander(). This single pattern is often credited with being the cornerstone of our entire industry.


The Delicate pattern, like the traditional Delegate pattern, is signified by its extreme use of indirection and object layering, where a successful implementation will be comprised of so many layers of API and object wrappers that the final result is apt to break easily and nondeterministically. As Chris Campbell pointed out to me, the Delicate pattern is a critical part of the trendy Fragile Programming methodology.


The Obliterator pattern is a combination of the Iterator pattern, which is useful for walking through a list of objects, and deletion functionality. When applied to any list of objects, it automatically walks the list and deletes all members, then removes the list, the calling function, and the application itself. Variations of the pattern have been known to also destroy the operating system, the computers running the system, the networks on which the pattern is deployed, and the universe in which the pattern exists. Use with care, or at least ask your users to test it for you before declaring the product final.


The Veneer pattern is a thin, attractive wrapper on top of a rat's nest of spaghetti code. The pattern is similar to its forerunner, the Fa


Move It! Blog

Posted by chet Oct 23, 2007

Introducing Animated Transitions, a new library for the easy creation of animated segues between application states.

It's been a long slog, from initial demos of the technology in a session on "Advanced 2D" at JavaOne 2005, to use of an early version of the library in the Aerith application, to finishing off the library and creating more demos exercising it for the bookFilthy Rich Clients, to getting legal approval for pushing the actual source code (an exercise over the last several months that was not unlike slamming the refrigerator door on my head, over and over. Every day.).

But it's finally done, and the long-awaited day is finally here:

The Animated Transitions library is hereby released


The project is available on at a BSD license.

The library is fully described in Chapter 18 of Filthy Rich Clients. That chapter includes a complete description of the library's API, detailed explanations of two sample applications that use the library, and some nitty-gritty details on how the library internals work.

But because there are probably a couple of people left on the planet that do not yet have a copy of the book (no idea how this happened. Maybe it's because we have been so quiet about it. We should really talk more about it), and because I'm such a nice guy and all, I wrote up a short tutorial on the basics of using the library, along with a new demo that shows the basics in action. You can find that tutorial in the article, "Create Moving Experiences with Animated Transitions".

In fact, here's a web-started version of the demo so that you can see it in action. Click on the handy image below and run it. Click on the More/Less buttons to see what it's all about. Note: There are some artifacts reported on the Mac, perhaps related to the way they treat layout and the panels that contain the buttons.




Play around with it. Check out the article and the accompanying demo. Check out the demos on thebook's website. Write your own demos. Or, even better, use the library in your actual applications. Make those applications more dynamic and help your users actually understand the interfaces they're beset with.

Go on: Move it!


Filthy Download Blog

Posted by chet Oct 16, 2007

The publisher just informed us that they've made a downloadable DRM-encrypted PDF version of Filthy Rich Clients available here. I know that some folks have been asking about this for a while, so it seemed worth another shamelessly self-promoting, yet thankfully brief, blog entry to call attention to it.