Breaking: It seems that Excelsior JET already supports JavaFX 2

Thanks to the persistence of an evaluation user, we have discovered that JavaFX 2 apps can be run without the custom classloader and hence can be fully precompiled with the current version of Excelsior JET! There are a few quirks in the build process, as you will see, and we have not extensively tested it, but the four standard demos seem to be working, at least on Windows.

Here is one of the demos, by the way:

JavaFX 2.2.1 Ensemble Demo
Download
(19.1 MB)

Note: That’s 19.1 MB for a self-contained package, i.e. a single installer that depends on neither the JRE nor the JavaFX Runtime. That is at least a quarter slashed off the download sizes and nearly half off the disk footprints (proof), not to mention the complexity of installing two or three packages instead of one.

And here is how you can test Excelsior JET against your standalone JavaFX app:

First, verify that your app can be launched directly on HotSpot:

  1. Make sure you have a 32-bit Oracle JRE 6 and a 32-bit JavaFX 2.2 Runtime installed on your system.
  2. In the directory containing your JavaFX app jar, create a batch file called e.g. jfxhs.bat and paste the following commands into it:
    @echo off
    rem
    rem jfxhs.bat - Run a JavaFX app using the standard Java classloaders.
    rem
    set JAVA_HOME=C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jre6
    set JAVAFX_HOME=C:\Program Files (x86)\Oracle\JavaFX 2.2 Runtime
    "%JAVA_HOME%\bin\java.exe" ^
      -cp "%JAVAFX_HOME%\lib\jfxrt.jar;%1" ^
      "-Djava.library.path=%JAVAFX_HOME%\bin" ^
      %2
    
  3. If needed, change JAVA_HOME and JAVAFX_HOME to point to the locations of the 32-bit JRE and JavaFX runtime on your system.
  4. Now try launching your app as follows:

    jfxhs JavaFX-app-jar JavaFX-app-class

    where JavaFX-app-jar is the name of the jar file containing your JavaFX application and JavaFX-app-class is the name of the class specified in the JavaFX-Application-Class: line in that jar’s manifest.

    For instance, the following command will run the Ensemble JavaFX demo:

    jfxhs Ensemble.jar ensemble.Ensemble2

If your JavaFX application starts and works correctly when launched this way, you are good to go. Here is how you can natively compile and package it with Excelsior JET:

  1. Create a copy of the jfxhs.bat file, say, jfxjet.bat, and edit it so that JAVA_HOME points to the jre subdirectory of the current Excelsior JET profile, e.g.:

       .  .  .
    set JAVA_HOME=C:\jet7.6-ent\profile1.6.0_34\jre
       .  .  .

    then run it with the same arguments:

    jfxjet JavaFX-app-jar JavaFX-app-class

    Instead of your app window, you should see the JET Control Panel splash, followed by a Create Project dialog:

    Clicking Proceed will take you to the Start page, with all necessary information already in place.

  2. Try running your application on the Excelsior JVM. Go to the Test Run page and click Run. (Compared to the Oracle JRE, it will take your app way more time to start and the app will feel sluggish, but that is normal.) If the app seems to be working okay, close it and proceed to the next step, otherwise see Troubleshooting below.
  3. On the Target page, set Stack trace support to “Minimal” (“Full” will also work.)
  4. On the Compile page, click Build to compile your JavaFX application into a native executable. Upon successful build, click Run to confirm that your app works when natively compiled, and then click Package to switch over to the JetPackII tool that will help you create a self-contained installation package.
  5. The first JetPackII page displayed will be the Files page, with your freshly compiled JavaFX executable and the required components of Excelsior JET Runtime already added to the package. JetPackII is not JavaFX aware, though, so you need to add all DLLs from %JAVAFX_HOME%\bin to the package manually. You can place them right into the root of the package, or create a subdirectory, say, jfxdlls.
  6. On the Resources page, the java.library.path property in the Java system properties pane will still point to the bin subdirectory of the JavaFX Runtime installed on your local system. Correct that property to point to the JavaFX DLLs you have just added to the package, e.g. “java.library.path=$(Root)\jfxdlls“.
  7. On the Trial Run page, skip the trial run. (It won’t work because of a missing environment variable – see below for details and workaround.)
  8. Build the package and try deploying it to systems that do not have Java nor JavaFX installed.
  9. MOST IMPORTANT: Let us know if it worked! :)

Once you have a working build, make a backup of the project files and try tweaking some settings. In particular, the Global Optimizer and Java Runtime Slim-Down have worked without any issues in our limited tests — the above JavaFX Ensemble demo binary was built with these enabled.

Troubleshooting

If your application fails during the Test Run in the JET Control Panel:

  • On the Classpath page, check that your application jar(s) and jfxrt.jar from the JavaFX runtime are included into classpath.
  • On the Start page, check that the Application Main Class field contains the main class of your application, not the default com/javafx/main/Main. That is the class specified in the JavaFX-Application-Class: line in the manifest file of your application jar.

If your application has passed the Test Run, but the executable produced by Excelsior JET fails, check whether stack trace support is completely disabled on the Target page. It should be set to “Minimal” or “Full”.

Finally, if your application works on the system on which it was compiled, but fails when installed on another system, open the respective JetPackII project, go to the Resources page and double check that:

  • You have added all DLLs from %JAVAFX_HOME%\bin to the package, and
  • The system property java.library.path points to that location, e.g.

    java.library.path=$(Root)\jfxdlls

    Beware of typos!

Miscellania

  • On the Classpath page, you may set the Pack into exe property to “auto-detect” for all jars.
  • Some of the DLLs in %JAVAFX_HOME%\bin are only needed when a JavaFX app is launched as an applet or via Java Web Start and need not be included in the installation package. We have had no time yet to prepare a “safe-to-omit” list of JavaFX DLLs.
  • The reason Trial Run fails for JavaFX apps is that JetPackII tries to simulate a system where neither Excelsior JET nor Java are installed, and in doing so passes only the absolutely essential environment variables to the application. But one of the native libraries in the JavaFX runtime relies on certain files in the directory to which the CommonProgramFiles variable points, and the entire app terminates abnormally if that variable is not set or points to a wrong location.

    The workaround is to wrap the application in batch file that would set that variable back. Just note that you need to set CommonProgramFiles(x86) on 64-bit systems.

    1. Add to your package a batch file named e.g. trialrun.bat with the following contents:

      SET CommonProgramFiles=C:\Program Files\Common Files
      SET CommonProgramFiles(x86)=C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files
      %1
    2. Add a new Trial Run scenario, specifying trialrun.bat as the executable, and the (relative) name of the actual application executable as the argument. (Note that root substitution does not work in the Arguments field.)

If you have any questions, or just want to confirm whether you were able to natively compile your JavaFX apps, please feel free to post comments or email us.

Appendix: Download Size and Disk Footprint Comparison

Deployment
option
Number of
installers
Download
size
Disk
footprint
JRE 7 two 32.9 MB 133.3 MB
JRE 6+JavaFX Runtime three 23.6 MB 133.2 MB
Excelsior JET one 19.1 MB 72.6 MB

Ensemble.jar is 8.5 MB uncompressed, but that can be brought down to 3.2 MB with pack200 and 7-Zip.

Offline Oracle JRE 6u34 installer for 32-bit Windows weighs 16.2 MB and the JavaFX 2.2.1 Runtime installer for the same platform is 7.4 MB. Together that is 23.6 MB. (The latest JRE 7 includes JavaFX, but for some reason its size is whopping 29.7 MB, even though the disk footprint difference is minimal.)

Categories: Excelsior JET

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