Java + SDL + Avian + webOS = Magically Delicious

Mmmwaa haa haa. It lives! I've gotten Java to run on webOS natively with a new set of Java SDL bindings. That means it just *might* time to start a new project. Read on for how it works and how you could help.

For a while I've been following an open source project called Avian. It's a very lightweight and highly portable JVM that can run almost anywhere. Recently I tried a new build and was able to get the ARM port running on webOS!  This is good news because Avian can run pretty much any Java code if you supply it with the right runtime (it can optionally work with the OpenJDK libs).

Now, of course getting a command line app it run is not very interesting. Really we want to talk to the screen to make some real graphical applications. So that brings us to part two: SDL.

If you've been doing desktop programming for a while you've probably heard of SDL, the Simple DirectMedia Library. It's a fairly low level graphics and audio API that runs pretty much everywhere, including on webOS.   But, of course, like many low level APIs it's built in C. So if I want to use Java I need to some wrapper to call it.  The existing wrappers out there are very old and didn't work well on Mac, so it was time to build my own.

Over the weekend I learned how to use Swig, a JNI wrapper generator and successfully ran my new SDL wrappers on Mac, Linux, and webOS.  Here's a quick screenshot:

it's not much but it proves that everything is working.

So what's the next step?  Honestly... I don't know. I created this specifically to let me code Java on webOS, but the SDL bindings would probably be useful for cross platform desktop applications as well.  We could port Amino to it, or do some funky multitouch stuff. It would certainly be great for people creating games. I need your advice.

What would you like to do with this library? What higher level APIs would you like? If you have any ideas of what you'd do with this lib, or would like to contribute to the project (help on Windows compilation would be greatly appreciated), then please message me on twitter: @joshmarinacci.


- Josh

Talk to me about it on Twitter

Posted August 31st, 2011

Tagged: graphics java palm programming