Rich Green Jonathan Schwarz Neil Young
Rich Green Jonathan Schwarz Neil Young

There is a race on to develop Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) for the desktop between Adobe, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla and Sun Microsystems.

Those five are trying to wow us with examples of RIAs as cool widgets running inside or outside the browser, with some working when your PC or other device is offline.

Adobe’s technology is called AIR, Google has Gears, Microsoft has launched Silverlight and Mozilla plans Prism for its Firefox browser.

At Sun’s JavaOne conference in San Francisco today, the company touted JavaFX with three cool demos.

Connected Life is a widget that can exist as a Facebook or blog application or be dragged outside the browser. It combines feeds such as Twitter messages and Flickr photos to show you what your friends are up to. Photo Flocker allows Flickr users to search for photos by tags and throws up results in a 3D interface. Movie Cloud is a 3D sphere spinning around with dozens of high-definition videos that can be clicked on and played.

JavaFX apps were also shown working just as well on a mobile phone. Developers will be able to get their hands on a tool kit to build applications from July.

JavaOne also featured the rock star Neil Young. There was no performance of Sun chief executive Jonathan Schwartz’s favourite song, Rockin’ In the Free World, but a demonstration was given instead of how Java was helping to build the artist’s archive of his work on Blu-ray discs.

Young seems to have come up with the most imaginative use to date of Blu-ray’s new BD-Live interactive features. He has chronicled his life as an artist and plans to release the first period, 1963-1972, in the autumn.

That will take up 10 discs and at 50 gigabytes per dual-layer disc that could be 500GB of material, enough to satisfy even the most ardent fan. By the time he is finished, the life story could be a 50-disc collection.

The Blu-ray technology allows high-def audio to be played while listeners sift through relevant archival material such as photos, notes, videos and memorabilia such as concert tickets. The biography and timeline can also be updated by downloads and contributions from fans.

“Previously, there was no way to browse archival material on a disc and listen to a song in high resolution at the same time,” said Young.

“Previous technology required unacceptable quality compromises. I am glad we waited and got it right.”

Get alerts on Technology sector when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

Follow the topics in this article