Fabio Ciucci: Extreme Java Artist
|"When Java came out, I read 'write once, run anywhere', which seemed to be a perfect solution to me."|
Since 1996, Ciucci has won almost all the top awards in the Java community, including those from Gamelan, JARS, Tucows, ZDNet, and so on. He currently runs his own company along with a small team of Java developers, called AnfyTeam. The site, anfyteam.com, is translated into 31 languages (no kidding, folks!) and gets half a million visitors from all over the world each month.
So, what exactly has he done to amaze the Java world?In addition to his official honors, some people (including myself) believe he has introduced two important things to the Java community: application inspiration and artistic content. During the old Java days, lots of simple but dull applets (e.g., scrollers, clocks) flooded the World Wide Web. His Java applets demonstrated and made you believe that with a careful programming tune-up, it was not impossible for Java to perform many complicated mathematical calculations in real-time. (Remember when Java was heavily criticized for its slow performance in browsers back at the beginning?)
|"In the specific field of visual effects, I have to say ... nowadays the only difficult part is probably to come up with a new idea and have it implemented, without the need of worrying too much about software and hardware performance issues."|
As for the artistic flavor he brought to Java, here are some words from the man himself: "Well ... born in Lucca, Italy (near Pisa's tower and Florence), my work in visual effects are probably influenced by Renaissance style." There is no doubt that his academic training at the Institute of the Arts and Florence Architecture University certainly helped shape his artistic views as well.
How and why did he get inspired by Java?"I was 'definitely lucky'," he said. "Java was released to the Internet public when I was searching for a new operating system to program. In fact, in late 1995, I was skilled in programming the market-dead Amiga computers and MS-DOS applications, but I was not enthusiastic about Microsoft Windows programming. It was also because I didn't want to learn another operating system and trash my programs again a few years later. When Java came out, I read 'write once, run anywhere', which seemed to be a perfect solution to me."
Inspired by Java's and the Web's capabilities and potentials, he decided to set up his own online company as his audience continued to grow. He then discontinued architecture and pursued his dream of being a cyber-architect rather than a real-world one. With the combination of his Java and art skills, his company has taken the Java world surprise and has been successful since.
The company and its goalDue to lack of support for advanced imaging classes in early standard JDK releases, lots of image-related Java applications needed to find their own way, and developers had to put in more effort to make things work. Ciucci's small team has done more than anyone to perfect present-day dynamic visual effects in real-time in the brower.
One of the main characteristics of his team is that products are made by groups of skilled programmers who also consider themselves artists. The variety of their audience also tells the story. They range from webmasters, to developers, to artists.
AnfyTeam also does custom work for corporations on a contract basis, which has attracted some major companies to them, such as Intel Corp. To let more people share their expertise, the team's most recent project is to convert their own proprietary 3D classes into an application programming interface (API) available for download to the general public. This state-of-the-art package is a valid alternative to Sun's Java 3D APIs, especially as it runs on actual browsers, unlike Java 1.2 3D, which is still not supported. And it is intended for real-time 3D Web applications. Feel free to check out their 3D site for more details.