Lqd's Journal


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Custom GLSL/HLSL pixel shaders for Java2D, Swing & JavaFX


Welcome to part 2 of our experiments on hardware accelerated effects in Java. Today’s weather forecast: 70% chance of… pixel shaders.

Remember last time, when I said I wouldn’t probably do custom effects and would wait for Sun to provide it to us ? Well…

I lied.

Actually, I changed my mind, but let’s not argue semantics here :]

We’ll see two things in this article. First, we’ll generalize what we did last time and get something usable from plain Java2D, and use that in our Swing support classes. And secondly, I’ll show you how to make your own custom effects/pixel shaders in GLSL & HLSL.

Before we start, a disclaimer: like a lot of the things I do around here, this is going to use some internal APIs, so 1) they might change in the future, 2) I might use them badly (as I think I did in the previous article, it should be cleaned up now hehehe) – 3) there are some things I don’t understand in the APIs, after all there’s so much I can do with undocumented bytecode and without the source really, 4) all this is possible thanks to an ugly hack I won’t bother explaining, because it’s not really interesting.

That being said, I did my best to hide the ugliness behind easy to use API. I can’t be sure this code will work in future releases of Decora, or if it would be doable to adapt it then, though. If that happens, let’s hope Sun provides an officially supported way for custom effects and pixel shaders (which could be as simple as giving access to decora’s compiler and JSL, as I said last time).

Java2D & Swing

There are now 3 ways to use decora effects: 2 for Java2D, and one for Swing with help from JXLayer (which, of course, uses the Java2D ones).

The first one is DecoraEffectRenderer and allows you to draw an Image with an effect applied, on a specific Graphics. This class delegates rendering to some decora utility methods I found not long ago (and might not have been present in decora when I initially wrote this experiment, last december), and renders manually when those can’t be used (“context hijacking”, which I use in the JXLayer support – ie when applying effects on non Java2D-managed images). It contains 3 or 4 drawImage methods (that mirror the ones in Graphics2D). The second one is DecoraEffectImageOp, which as the name suggests is a BufferedImageOp implementation. Those two classes should help you use decora almost like you use Graphics and software effects today in Java2D, so pretty familiar territory for you if you’re reading these lines. The last class is the JXLayer DecoraLayerEffect, from last time, but now just uses a DecoraEffectRenderer internally.

Custom effects / pixel shaders

And now on to the good stuff. Even if the basic concept was easy to code after I got the idea on how to do it, the longest part was coming up with a coherent API I wouldn’t mind using, making sure it worked with GLSL, HLSL, on windows and linux (both using java 6), and so on (unfortunately i couldn’t test on a Mac, I have hopes it will work there, but I have no idea – I think the closest i can get to the Mac environment is java 5 under linux, but decora/JavaFX only run on java 6 there, since they rely on the RSL).

I also want to note the work I did here needs signing in webstart, a requirement I have high hopes of removing when Decora/JavaFX 1.2.1 is released, because of a bug that was recently fixed there. Unsigned webstart is not really a hard requirement for me, but it might be for you. In any case, the method I use for hijacking shaders into decora works unsigned; some files will need to be moved around, but I think that’s basically it. We’ll see how it goes when I can test it, and see if i’m right.

As I said last time, decora has a number of backends because it runs on quite a diverse set of platforms/hardware/software/gpu drivers/etc. What I did here is basically a small subset of what the decora compiler does: only for the gpu backends, and requires manual coding. With JSL you’d code a single file describing your effect, and have the compiler generate all the support classes; here we’ll need to do “everything” manually, and I’ve succeeded in making this task pretty small: one java file, and two pixel shaders, for OpenGL & Direct3D – and of course one of those might be optional, depending on your target platform. For an effect called X, you’ll have in the same package X.java, X.glsl and X.obj (compiled from an HLSL file, using the fxc tool that comes with DirectX SDK)

Let’s see how to make a custom effect. We’ll stay at the global overview level, assuming you can read my code, samples and demos for down and dirty specifics if need be.

As JFXLayer has shown, we’ll need a class extending decora’s Effect. Here to create your custom effect, you’ll extend a helper class I did, called, you guessed it, CustomEffect. And it’ll basically look like this:

Custom effect structure

public class BlingBling extends CustomEffect<BlingBling>

// TODO: insert bling here

// ----- Bling controlling -----

protected Class<? extends ShaderController<BlingBling>> getShaderControllerClass ()
        return BlingBlingController.class;

public static final class BlingBlingController
   extends Abstract/*Stuff we'll talk about later*/ShaderController<BlingBling>
    public final void updateShader (BlingBling effect, Shader shader)
        shader.setConstant ("bling", effect.getBling());

Hello less-readable-but-safer-because of/thanks to-generics code. Most of this will be generated by your IDE anyway.

The BlingBling java class is the effect implementation. You’ll create instances of this, pass them to DecoraEffectRenderer or DecoraLayerEffect, set parameters, variables and so on. The inner class is the shader controlling part, ie setting variables on the shader, whose values are coming from the BlingBling effect itself. Pretty clean and simple for something that’s quite complicated if you think about it really.

Shader controlling and the shader itself

The shader controlling is grouped by the number of samplers the shader uses: 0, 1 or 2 – because that’s the way decora does it. The shader controller will most of the time extend Abstract[NumberOfSamplers]ShaderController: AbstractZeroSamplerShaderController, AbstractOneSamplerShaderController, AbstractTwoSamplerShaderController. The whole hierarchy is more complex, there are other abstract classes and interfaces you can extend/implement, those are the ones that provide the most help, but you can read the code and figure this out yourself, it’s pretty simple.

Let’s start with what’s common between all of them, the shader structure itself. I won’t obviously explain anything about coding pixel shaders here, and only focus on what’s needed to use and create your own.

I’ll say that there’s more flexibility when using GLSL code – because they can be parsed, composed, and messed with at runtime, which is not easily doable with HLSL – and I’ve called this “prettify-ing” the shader. A “pretty” decora GLSL shader will look like this, a regular GLSL shader:

// bling related variables and samplers

void main()
 // bling computing using the mentioned variables and copious texture2D calls

 gl_FragColor = bling;

While a real decora GLSL shader actually looks like this:

uniform float jsl_pixCoordYOffset;
vec2 pixcoord = vec2 (gl_FragCoord.x, jsl_pixCoordYOffset-gl_FragCoord.y);
uniform vec2 jsl_posValueYFlip;

vec4 jsl_sample (sampler2D img, vec2 pos)
    pos.y = (jsl_posValueYFlip.x - pos.y) * jsl_posValueYFlip.y;
    return texture2D (img, pos);

// bling related variables and samplers

void main()
 // bling computing using the mentioned variables and copious jsl_sample calls

 gl_FragColor = bling;

As you can see there’s a little more boilerplate, and the helper classes basically turn the pretty GLSL shaders into the regular ones. Prettifiying GLSL shaders is optional (but is set to true by default), and also comes with a perk, you don’t have to tell the shader controller the names of the samplers (unless you want to or need to control the IDs), something you have to do with regular decora GLSL & HLSL shaders.

The HLSL shader will look like this skeleton:

// bling related variables and samplers

void main (/* TEXCOORD0 UVs for each sampler */, in float2 pixcoord : VPOS,
   inout float4 color : COLOR0)
 // bling computing using the mentioned variables

 color = bling;

This is how you’d compile that last HLSL shader to an obj (you could use another file extension if you wanted to, like the more common .ps – but decora uses .obj and that would be mandatory for sandboxed access, so I’ve let it be the default): fxc /nologo /T ps_3_0 BlingBling.hlsl /Fo BlingBling.obj

Now you know why decora (and thus JavaFX) requires a graphics card that supports at least the Shader Model 3.

*-sampler shaders

Let’s look at the different types of supported shaders & shader controllers, what they are useful for, and talk about the included samples, which will show you the exact pixel shader structure you need to follow here.

One-sampler shaders are probably the most common ones, as they represent the kind of effects used in image processing. I provided a sample effect, a basic clone of the SepiaTone decora effect, imaginatively called SepiaToneClone. [Abstract]OneSamplerShaderController offers a way to get the sampler’s name, and whether it is using bilinear or nearest neighbor filtering. To give you an idea, in Decora, the blur, brightpass, and color adjustment effects are all effects using one sampler effects. These shaders would be useful if you wanted to implement some image processing effects for instance, such as the ones you find in Jerry Huxtable’s jhlabs filter library.

Two-sampler shaders, most of the time either mix the two source images, or use one as parameters to apply an effect to the other input image. [Abstract]TwoSamplerShaderController also provides a way to get the samplers’ name, and the filtering to use. Examples of these in Decora are the various Photoshop Blend modes and displacement map effects. I provided a sample effect for that too, which is a clone of the multiply blend mode. These shaders would be useful if you wanted to implement transitions effects for instance, such as the ones you can find in Jeremy Wood’s transitions/transitions2d library.

And lastly, zero-sampler shaders. These, I think, would be the kind of shaders you’d use for procedural textures, like the ubiquitous checkerboard or brick patterns, or the Mandelbrot/Julia fractals for instance, up to the more modern procedural shaders you see in some farbrausch productions (like .kkrieger/.theprodukkt), the game Spore, or the Substance Air tech from my compatriots Allegorithmic. In practice, however, and the reason why I just said “I think” is because you’d probably need UVs for anything worth looking at, and I’m not sure if that’s provided in decora here, since there are no zero-sampler effects in the whole library. That’s why I didn’t provide any sample here, and I started doing my own procedural shaders using one-samplers. So your mileage may vary here.

The java code for the effects, shader controllers & glsl and hlsl shaders (provided in the zip at the end of this article) will probably need to be looked at in more detail to really be able to make a custom effect, but the basic principles have all been described here, and you should be good to go.

Animayshion, man

While the pixel shader support is blazing fast for static images/UIs, be sure to test your target platforms thoroughly if you’re intending to animate those effects, there’s a lot of image data moving from the cpu to the gpu and back here, complicated effects become slow on big images or live UIs because of that. With great power comes great responsiblity, as the great philosopher once said – or maybe it was spiderman, i’m not sure.

I think/hope that the Prism renderer, coming in the next JavaFX release, will solve that. The public info on this is that it will add image caches for any node in the scenegraph: those being on the gpu, animations and pixel shaders should be faster. I’m not sure however that it will allow custom shaders, I doubt it to be honest, and this is part of the reason I changed my mind and coded it myself, however bad and inefficient my code would be – taking into consideration the conditions under which I’m doing this. Plus, Flash (in a sense) and Silverlight already offer this, and I find this lacking in the Java world – Java2D/Swing, not JOGL obviously.

JavaFX support

As for JavaFX support, I’ll start with another disclaimer: I don’t do JavaFX script at all, so take this code with a pinch of salt; if anyone wants to improve it, or correct it because it’s most likely bad, let me know (not to mention I mostly succeeded in crashing the openjfx compiler with those 10 lines). It works like this, you do what’s needed for general java support, and also create a JavaFX class extending my javafx.scene.effect.custom.CustomEffect, to specify and control the custom java effect. This will allow you to use your JavaFX effect like the regular ones.

An example JavaFX effect using the SepiaToneClone sample effect:

package javafx.scene.effect.custom.sepia;

import javafx.scene.effect.custom.CustomEffect;

public class SepiaToneClone extends CustomEffect
    public var level : Float = 1.0 on replace
        delegate().setLevel (level);

    protected override function createDecoraEffect() : com.sun.scenario.effect.Effect
        return new org.hybird.decora.effect.sepia.SepiaToneClone();

    function delegate() : org.hybird.decora.effect.sepia.SepiaToneClone
        return decoraEffect as org.hybird.decora.effect.sepia.SepiaToneClone;

Crappy demos

I can’t write an article without demos, you know that by now. Unfortunately, they won’t be particularly impressive today, since the point of the article is to show how *you* could do pixel shaders. The sample effects I coded, being mostly clones of existing decora effects, won’t be really new obviously. In any case, here they are, the first one uses the decora renderer to apply a clone sepia color adjustment on a screenshot of the displacement map test demo I talked about on twitter.


Launch the Image Processing demo

The second uses the JFXLayer decora effect and is once again a simplified version of JXLayer’s LockableDemo. Here, a gaussian blur & the clone sepia color adjustment are applied on Swing UI when locking the panel, using the blend multiply clone.


Launch the Swing UI demo

And the last one, is a JavaFX text label over a blue rectangle to which the sepia effect is applied. Clicking will lower threshold. Seriously impressive stuff, i expect George Lucas to call me for help on the next Star Wars, based purely on the aesthetic of this last one. True story.


Launch the JavaFX Effect demo

(Famous) Last words + Download

Of course I wanted to provide more polished demos, with a GLSL editor to play with, for instance, but this article is already getting too long, and I don’t have any more time to make it shorter, or longer – I want to finish it quickly to keep my incredible one-post-a-month average.

Some time in the future we’ll probably see how to make a custom effect that’s actually useful, most likely from one of the “These would be useful if” ones I mentioned here, a transition for example. *Those* would be/will be worth demoing.

You can find the whole project here, with all the support classes, samples, shaders, etc (the whole shebang is under BSD as usual).

Till next time, take care. By the way, you should follow me on twitter here.

PS: this is why I only post once a month, I think I actually aged while writing this 2500-word long article :]

Hardware Accelerated Effects in Swing with JXLayer and Decora

Update (August, 31st): I released version 0.2 of this library, fixing a couple of problems, and adding the possibility of making your own custom pixel shaders. You can find the second part of this series on pixel shaders here.

The Olive Branch

A lot has been said about Swing and JavaFX recently, in a seemingly unending flame war between fans of each side. Both have merits and flaws, and as you’ve seen over time, i’m advocating a 3rd way, which i decided to pompously call The Olive Branch for no reason whatsoever, which is using the best of both worlds.

The plan is to use, directly from java, scenario and decora -the graphics libraries that power the javafx runtime, and which i love probably more than my girlfriend, but don’t tell her (: – (btw if you don’t like crappy jokes, you better stop reading now, and grab a taco or something) . Of course, things have changed since their release, what was once an open source public API (albeit destined to change heavily) is now an internal proprietary one, which means danger, will robinson. So, the plan is to have the community build things that are so cool, and innovative, that Sun will allow us to do just that and make scenario/decora public and usable from java, as they said they would, like with a jnlp extension or something. I think when things have stabilized a little, they’ll get to it. But at the moment, i have succeeded in doing that, at a level of 2% (and i’ve mailed Sun telling them everything i’ve done with scenario in the last 18 months – which is quite a bit in retrospect). Let’s see if we can crank that baby up.

Introducing jfxlayer

I’ve started this a long time ago, i wanted to help people use scenario and decora in swing, not only in a pure scenario scene as with Scenile, but from regular, real world swing, because some tasks are better handled by scenario and decora, and vice versa. The best of both worlds. I never got around to releasing it because i haven’t gotten to a satisfying point in this endeavour (+ i’m lazy), i’ve just planned the whole shebang, and coded the first little step, how to use hardware accelerated decora effects in plain old swing. It’s like 30 lines of code, that i kept in sync with every JavaFX release. I’ll get to the other planned features eventually, in the meantime, here’s the result of this piece of work. Hopefully, it’s interesting enough for regular Swing java users, or more “exotic” ones, like them groovy folks (:

It’s almost nothing code and work-wise. However, this opens a *huge* realm of possibilities for swing apps, and i hope you’ll see that too.

The concept is simple: add decora’s effects to the BufferedImageOps effects that jxlayer allows.

Decora. OpenJFX. JXLayer. JFXLayer.

Decora ?

Decora is Chris Campbell’s baby, if you don’t know who that is, you can stop reading now, bye. This library is arguably the smallest, the easiest to use and most powerful one you’ll ever come across if you’re dealing with effects, image processing, and shaders. A decora effect is made with a JSL file (Java Shader Language) which is basically a mix between Java (in order to get/set parameters and control the effect) and GLSL/HLSL ie, a generic high level OpenGL/DirectX shader language. This JSL file is then “compiled” (by a code generation utility) into a specific effect for each supported backend. The backends are mutually exclusive branches of code that target a specific architecture/3D API, etc. Depending on your software and hardware configuration, decora will choose the backend that will perform the best on your computer, whether you’re on windows mac or linux for instance. You have a regular “software” backend in pure java, one using JNI, one targetting OpenGL, another one OpenGL ES2 for mobile devices, another one Direct3D, and one targeting Prism, the next gen JavaFX graphics renderer, which will allow 3D and more perf, which is about as far as everyone knows. Back in the open source decora days, i’ve also written a backend myself, which multithreaded the regular Java backend, so that effects would use all your available cpus/cores.

All that from one tiny JSL file, they really are small, check the old open source version you’ll see. For the user, it’s of course transparent, you create an instance of the effect you want, and use it, decora handles the rest behind the scenes.

Sure, there aren’t that many effects yet (in fact there haven’t been any new ones since it was released, the work is done on the architecture, perf, backends, for the existing effects, which is very logical if you think about it) compared to, say, what Jerry Huxtable offers in his jhlabs filters library. In practice, it’s enough, for instance you have blurs and shadows, a perspective effect (think coverflow), color transforms, etc and a way to mix and chain all of the effects. If we had access to the compiler (or if we reverse engineered and forward ported that to the open source version) we could add new effects, but it’s not the case anymore. I think it’s doable if you really want it, especially for GLSL shaders which’ll be very interesting once Prism is released, if the compiler isn’t available at that time. I haven’t felt the need to create new effects until this week where i needed a better displacement effect than the one provided. So we’ll see how it goes but i’m not planning on doing it anytime soon.

How do i use it in swing ?

Enough about decora. In your Swing app, use JXLayer, and use the JFXLayer effect bridge with stock decora effects. It’s very simple:

BufferedLayerUI ui = ...; // your regular JXLayer LayerUI
Effect decoraEffect = ...; // your regular decora effect
// like GaussianBlur, Bloom, DropShadow, etc
ui.setLayerEffects (new DecoraLayerEffect  (effect));

Compare that with using JOGL and pixel shaders directly as Romain did in the Filthy Rich Clients book (the sample is like 500 lines long, and which are mostly low level code for setting everything up for rendering, here it takes 5 at most, thanks Chris!)

Demos. Finally! I’m as tired reading this awfully long blog post as you are writing it

I know you’re all about demos and eye candy, and today, i have 3 of them for you. Not one, but three, and if you call right now with your credit card number, i’ll add a set of Ginsu2000 knifes for only 3 easy payments of 9.99$, they can cut a shoe, you know ?

Since this post is about hardware accelerated effects, you’ll obviously need a decent graphics card with up to date drivers.


Launch the basic demo

The first one is pretty basic, it’s two buttons. Pushing each one starts an animation (using the same code that powers the eMotionBlur demo of last time) that progressively blurs the component (but remains live). The button on the left is using a jhlabs blur filter, while the one on the right is using decora’s one. At the default size, it’s really close, but maximize the window and you’ll see the difference, and possibly start to envision the possibilities this offers. Who knows maybe it can be used to power screen transitions (even though i’m still not fully satisfied with the perf yet – maybe Alexander Potochkin, or Dmitri Trembovetski can help us out here, pajalusta (or whatever it’s spelled in cyrillic (: – you’ll see it’s decent enough for me to release it) – Mark, you can keep us updated on that (:


Launch the LockableUI demo

The second one is a modified demo from the JXLayer distribution, using the LockableUI, here also you can compare blurs. On my machine it’s almost instantaneous with decora.



And finally the 3rd one is a modified version of Twimber, my tiny twitter provider for Kirill’s great Amber project. I’ve hacked animated blooms, blurs, and color transforms into it in a matter of an hour, where it would have probably taken me days fiddling with jogl. Bear in my mind this demo is *heavy* with animated effects, and absolutely not optimized at all (for instance the repaints are too big, the effects target components that are too big, etc) and might run slowly (it does a little on my machine) or quite possibly crash your vm (which it does on another machine, probably a bug in my graphics card driver that crashes everything), plus there are some deadlocks somewhere between Amber and the latest releases of Trident, that i haven’t tried to remove, maybe Kirill can help us with that, if need be. If that happens, you can only close the webstart window by killing the process, sorry about that, guys. Hopefully, we fixed the problem, it stll won’t be optimized though ^^

Is it safe to use ?

Sure, using internal APIs is going to be a pain in the neck, it already has been for me. But, all in all, Decora’s API did not change much in the last 18 months, and especially not the effects’. And as the saying goes, no pain no gain. Plus they work fine with JavaFX 1.2 and JFXLayer right now, you don’t have to use the next version if you don’t want to have to modify them.

Downloads and source

Update (August, 31st): As mentioned earlier, I released version 0.2 of this library, fixing a couple of problems, and adding the possibility of making your own custom pixel shaders. You can find the second part of this series on pixel shaders here. I didn’t change the code linked here for archive purposes though.

You can find JFXLayer here (zipped source project + demos), and twimber2 here (zipped source project).

Let me know what you think, if the demos run well, or whatever in the comments, or sooner on twitter.

Animation speed and dynamic motion blur in Swing with JavaFX’s Scenario


In the last article about triggers, i mentioned a use case which was very interesting to me, and would allow handling the motion blur automatically in an animation. This pretty simple addition, as you’ll see, makes a big difference in the dynamism and realism of an animation. Let’s see how to do that. And of course, there’s a hopefully cool demo+source that comes with it.

Speed (instantaneous speed) is easy to calculate: it’s a delta between two values, divided by the delta of time it took to get from the first to the second value. (We often think of the values in space, for motion, but this formula ca be applied to any dimension, since it relates to the speed of any change). Cue timing events, and all you have to do is find the difference between the last value of the property you’re animating and the current one, and the difference between the times at which the events occured.

float delta = Math.abs (currentValue - previousValue);
long deltaTime = elapsedTime - previousElapsedTime;
float speed = delta  / deltaTime; // speed per ms

I said it was going to be easy! Plus i’ve built a speedometer class to help you with statistics, filtering events, and calculating the speed.

Once you have the speed, you need to find a way to use it. What i wanted was a relationship between that speed, and the motion blur itself: the faster the animation, the bigger the motion blur radius.

We’ll tackle the specific speed trigger next time (because i thought about it a little more, and the concept is pretty powerful. Triggers shouldn’t be in an animation library but directly in the core libraries or in a ui tk, at the very least, so next time we’ll see what i came up with), today we’ll use a component of that equation to make a fully dynamic motion blur: we’ll use the delta values as a basis for the blur radius.


The demo looks like originally like this.

The basic demo

Not much going on. There’s a white surface on which the animations take place. It comes with 3 presets. Each preset launches an animation with a different duration and spline interpolator (which changes the speed for each one), the text goes from top to bottom. You can also click the surface, and the text will smoothly move there, motion blurred and all (look at the code to know how to calculate an angle involving a mouse click).

You’d be impressed by how fast a little animation goes; in the demo, some of them go from 0.3 to 29k+ pixels per second. Obviously with that much of a gap, it’s almost impossible to get to a good looking animation by hand coding and eye balling. I had to build a little editor to make the presets i just talked about. It’s activated by clicking the “animation editor” button, no kidding, and looks like this.


The editor obviously allows you to change everything in the animation, from the text, its color (using jeremy wood’s colorpicker), font (using connectica’s font picker), the motion blur settings (used here by the play button, or when clicking on the white surface), to modifying the spline interpolator (using a slightly modified version of the one romain guy did in the timingframework, to adapt it to scenario and other things) by dragging the round anchors or using the template selector, and also allows you to see the actual graph representing the animation speed, if the animation were to be run with the current settings.

Try the demo, i think it’s cute, note however that hardware acceleration is going to be a must-have here. There’s really no way you can animate a 60px radius blur effect smoothly and easily without it


Download the source (zipped eclipse project) here. The stuff i wrote is under BSD as always.

PS: The demo is using the scenario library that powers JavaFX. I’ve used the recently released version 1.2, which should work on all platforms, but i’ve only tested it under windows and linux so your mileage may vary. The demo’s name was in direct relation to the mythical 4th preset (which you can see in the screenshots but only try if you download the code), blurring emotions as well as pixels on screen, you can think of that as poetry if you will.

My own emotions were actually blurred too when updating to v1.2, since a lot of things i relied upon in the scenario framework since its public release 18 or so months ago, were either moved to fx script or removed altogether. I’m slowly bringing them back to life, piece by piece, i’ll make a post about using scenario 1.2 in java in the near future, and maybe win the 500$ sun is offering for their latest blog challenge in the process hehehe (:

Let me know what you think here or on twitter.
See ya.

Scenile: Using JavaFX Project Nile in Java with Scenario


I’d like to start today with a little helper library. I call it scenile because it integrates scenario (the scenegraph powering the JavaFX runtime) with project nile (the JavaFX production suite) (plus it’s funny). I’ve talked about it on my twitter stream so some of you might be familiar with it.

Project nile allows creating resources directly from designers’ tools (such as Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop) or from SVG files (inkscape also exports  files that can be used by JavaFX, i don’t know if it has been updated for 1.0 though), which can then be used in your javafx script application . This is really good and will help pave the way for better java UX. Nile exports FXZ files, which are FXD files zipped, plus any resource that might be used there, images, fonts, etc. The FXD file format is basically some JavaFX script describing the scene with primitives like rectangles, effects, transforms and so on.

However, i really wanted those features in the java world. Scenile is the result of this wish. It loads fxd/fxz files and creates the appropriate scenario objects, fills the properties, creates the scenegraph and returns it to you. After that, its work is done and scenario takes over to render, animate, etc.

As it stands today, scenile is at version 0.1, i’m still not happy with some of its internals yet, but i wanted to release it early. The whole FXD primitive set is certainly not supported but it can convert the nile samples and many other files i’ve thrown at it. Sometimes i stumbled upon nile bugs, but everything it suceeded in exporting, scenile was able to load correctly in my tests.

For the library users, it’s basically calling one function asking to load a fxz file, so the extensibility – or documentation *clears throat* – doesn’t matter much yet.

Demo and downloads

Domo, arigato, mister, roboto

Domo, arigato, mister, and roboto

I made a little demo to show how you’d use it and. I first created a comp (which you can see more clearly here at flickr) and exported it to fxz with nile. Now, if you load the scene with scenile, give it to a JSGPanel, you’re good to go, and you can then add it to your Swing app for example.

I thought of it as a character selection in some kind of game. It just shows 4 little robots, clicking on one shows its name in the console when launched locally. Clicking the badge at the bottom pauses or resumes the floating animation. As a side note, in the demo, i rasterized the background: because of its complexity (around 13k nodes resulting in a 6M fxd/1.6M fxz) the demo took between 10 and 20s to load, and the animations were far from smooth. Scenario is still being optimized and debugged as we speak, and animated content doesn’t perform all that well all the time (that’s why neither does JavaFX). In the demo, this lite version is much smaller  (around 150+ nodes) and performs well on the couple machines i tested it on.

Here’s the code, and here are the binaries (not packed), both containing 1 or 3 samples. I’m using java 6 in order to get the new gradient classes, if need be i could make a java 5 version.

Click the following image to launch the demo with webstart. (Note: the demo is a little perf intensive because of the animations and gaussian blurs. It depends on the javafx runtime, and works normally on windows – with the direct3d pipeline. I don’t have access to a Mac so i don’t know how it runs there. The animation is pretty sluggish on linux, scenario and decora do not pick up opengl even though the 3 machines or so i tested it on are pretty recent, with up to date drivers. Caching the nodes in images improves the situation but it’s not looking really good either. I’m sorry about that, but i’m not sure there’s anything i could do at this point, except maybe wait for JavaFX 1.1 or the final linux version – if anyone has any idea i’ll be glad to make the appropriate changes)

launch domo arigato demo

Supported scenario versions and license

Ok, that one’s a tough cookie. I first thought about supporting all versions of scenario. At the moment, scenario exists in two states, an open source version (0.6) under the GPL, and a 1.0+ version under the JavaFX license. Both have strengths and weaknesses.

The open source scenario is asleep at the moment (i’m trying not to say it’s dead). There’s more and more forum posts asking about its status, its license, the bug fixes and new features that are in the 1.0, but there’s no answer yet. Eventually, JavaFX will be open sourced, so when that time comes scenario should be as well.

The closed source version is on the opposite very much alive but cannot be distributed (in fact i think neither can the fxd support jar both the javafx.com samples and i use) and you have to depend on the whole fx runtime instead of the small scenario jar.  I believe a jnlp extension containing scenario/decora/javacss would really be useful and actually help people wait for days when the licenses are a little less restrictive. Not a lot of people were able to use it because of the GPL anyway.

I’d still like for them to be able to use Scenile though. Right now, a couple features are 1.0 specific, if anyone using scenario 0.6 needs compatibility, i’ll do that by the next version. That’s why the code is licensed under the modified BSD license. If you use scenario 0.6 directly and can comply to its GPL license, the BSD is compatible with the GPLv2 (even though scenile will be usable for you only at v0.2 or so, not right now). There’s no problem either if you use scenario 1.0+ by depending on the javafx runtime, or if somehow we get a jnlp extension for scenario, since the BSD is very permissive and thus also compatible with the JavaFX license.

Final words

This is really a simplistic piece of technology, however the possibilities are almost limitless because it streamlines the graphic resources integration. By helping integrating those really easily, you can do whatever you want in the design phase. I intend to post other demos showcasing those possibilities some more: it’s not just useful for character selections in games, but also in traditional ui design, or as i hope we’ll see soon, skinning components and look-and-feels, and more.

Hopefully i’ll see you there.