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I can has Kindle Development?

January 16, 2011 by Steve

I got an Amazon Kindle for Christmas. It is cool. It is a book you can program. And I really want to make apps for it. But so far the beta is very, very closed. Search for "Kindle Beta" on Google and you get a few year-old news articles about the original announcement and a bunch of development forum threads with people asking each other if they know how to get in. There are a few games from EA available on the Kindle store, but at this point, it looks like if you're not EA, you're not cool enough to play in Amazon's garden.

On the other hand, there is a development community growing for the Kindle outside the official channels. Turns out the Kindle is a very flat Linux box running an ARM processor, and Kindle apps are written in Java. Android development is done in Java. Barnes & Noble's Nook development is done in Java. Time for me to learn Java. Since I'm familiar with other languages but not Java, I asked for some help. I got pointed toward JavaFX. JavaFX allows you to define what you want the application to do at a higher level than regular Java - just tell it, I want a window with these buttons and those text entry fields, and the engine takes care of the rest. (Something like Flex or Silverlight.) It is, in fact, intended to compete with those two packages as a way of doing Rich Internet Applications. This is not news to anyone who has been paying attention, but it is all new for me.

Now, JavaFX does not appear to make code that will instantly run on a Kindle. It may not make code that will instantly run on any devices I'm interested in making apps for. But it will allow me to dip my toes in the Java world with a workflow that is already familiar to me from Flex. And who knows, maybe I'll find work as a JavaFX coder.


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