SAN FRANCISCO--Sun Microsystems is trying to make the case at this year's JavaOne conference that its Java software is good for snazzy and elaborate desktop software. To give a taste for this concept, Sun showed off a Flickr-based photo editing site it calls Iris.
Iris--though either pokey or unable to handle the collective attention of the thousands of JavaOne attendees--lets Flickr members view their photos and perform a variety of editing tasks such as cropping, rotating, sharpening and blurring. Each image is shown with a histogram that represents the distribution of light and dark tones in the photo.
The site also enables users to e-mail slide shows to others. The slide show takes the form of a downloaded Java application. Hint: if you can't figure out how to stop the slide show, wave your pointer over the lower center part of the screen and some clickable buttons appear.
I'm glad people are working on fancier interfaces to Flickr, and Java is a good way to do it. I have a powerful aversion to installing new software on my computer, being unwilling to load up the Windows registry with ever more cruft. But Java is a nice way to use software that doesn't degrade your performance when you're not using it. I also recommend a Firefox plug-in called Fotofox that works with several image-sharing sites.
Iris' editing features worked on Thursday but were in limbo Friday, however. For a slicker and equally nonfunctional interface, it's worth looking at the Flash-based mockup of Adobe Lightroom.