Leaving Sun, Joining Palm

After 5 amazing years at Sun I have decided not to move on to Oracle. Instead I will be joining Palm as a developer advocate for the WebOS. The WebOS is an open platform with an exciting future on a variety of Palm devices, which I'll talk about in great detail soon. For now though, I want to talk about Sun, why I'm leaving, and the future of Java & JavaFX.

I joined Sun in 2005 to work on the Windows L&F for the Swing team. Since then I've been on several different teams, always working with some incredible engineers. First the Swing team, then the NetBeans team to work on the GUI builder, then the JavaFX team to work on the designer, samples & docs, and general development. Finally I've spent the last year working on the desktop client for the Java Store, written in JavaFX.

I didn't start working with Swing at Sun, though. I've actually been doing Java GUI stuff since before there even was a Swing toolkit. In 1995 I learned Java at the recommendation of my favorite TA, Ian Smith. He was convinced that Java was the future of OO languages, not C++. Shortly after I began writing AWT graphics hacks, creating the world's first (to my knowledge) Java ray tracer in 1996. I then spent my last year at Georgia Tech working for Scott Hudson on an experimental GUI toolkit called SubArctic. (the demos should still work, actually). That work led to my one year internship at Xerox PARC where I got to work with Studio RED and met Marc Weiser (who foresaw of today's smartphone and embedded computing revolution). I even got to have dinner with Alan Kay when he was at Disney. (FYI: Alan Kay is the man who invented everything in the 1970s, including the iPad).

After PARC I worked in a few startups doing interface architecture and view engines until the dot-com bust. As required by law, all programmers in Atlanta must work at least one of the following: Home Depot, CNN, Cox, Verizon, Coke. I worked for Home Depot & Verizon, then joined Docucorp; doing various client & server side UIs for each. Finally, while at Docucorp, I started blogging on Java.net and wrote Swing Hacks with Chris Adamson. It was Swing Hacks which eventually led to the Sun position, and to where I am today.

So, from 1995 until the present I've spent my professional career working on Java GUIs of some sort. Now that it's the year 2010 (freakshow!) I've decided to start working with something completely different: HTML, JavaScript, and CSS on the WebOS. The Oracle transition seems like a good time to make the change.

Don't think that I'm leaving Java and JavaFX behind. I'm proud of the work we have done, from making UIs easier to code, to reinventing JavaDocs. JavaFX is a great technology with a bright future now that it will have Oracle's financial and marketing support. Now I'll just be involved with them from the other side, as a user and application programmer. I still plan to work on Leonardo, my wireframing tool in the Java Store. I've also got another release of MaiTai ready to ship when JavaFX 1.3 & Prism are out. The JavaStore is going to be a big part of desktop computing, and I look forward to buying lots of great apps through it.

Finally I want to thank my incredible colleagues at Sun. Rich, Jasper, and Amy: you've done a great job designing a GUI toolkit for the 21st century. Jeff, Jeet & Nandini. I've greatly enjoyed working in your teams. And most of all, I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with the inventor of Java (and the Java Store), James Gosling. I still have your signed dollar on the wall of my office.

When I was in college there were five companies I dreamed about working for. Sun was one of those companies. All my wishes for a bright Java future.

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Posted February 4th, 2010

Tagged: personal