The difference to other competing HTML5 frameworks shall be the end-to-end development vom client to backend with just one Java framework. Thus, Avatar will compete with other client-side Java frameworks such as Google Web Toolkit (GWT). Avatar shall be easy to use and finally be fun to create HTML5 web applications in the Java environment. In the end, Oracle alone will offer three different alternatives for creating modern web applications: Java Server Faces (JSF) as Java EE standard, JavaFX, and Avatar.
In the meantime, this raises the question of whether JavaFX is still a good alternative for creating web applications. Because of the required browser-plugin at runtime, JavaFX is a bad decision in many use cases. Instead, JavaFX is highly recommended for creating desktop applications (as replacement for Swing), and will be a good alternative for embedded applications (where devices usually do not offer a browser).
Unfortunately, Avatar still looks like a blackbox to me – even after some days at JavaOne 2012. If you google for it, you just find information about announcements from JavaOne 2011 (e.g. http://www.theserverside.com/feature/Project-Avatar-One-HTML5-Strategy-to-Rule-Them-All). There was also a web framework panel at JavaOne 2012 with experts from JSF, Grails, Play, and Avatar. Several questions regarding Avatar could only be answered with empty phrases such as „sorry, as we are not ready for production yet, this answer cannot be answered reasonable“.
In the end, Avatar may become an interesting alternative for creating modern, plugin-independent HTML5 web applications within the Java environment… In the future! However, it is still a blackbox without a website, download, or community. So, developers probably have to wait some more time to get additional information.
If you have any other opinions, or if you can find further information about Avatar, feel free to post a comment…
UPDATE (Day 3 at JavaOne 2012):
Due to my first impressions, I would still use JSF, GWT or another web framework instead of Avatar in the future…
BTW: Even after showing some source code at JavaOne 2012, Avatar is still a blackbox because there is no product strategy yet - as one of the Oracle guys confirmed to me. Of course, this is also the reason why there is no website or download available yet.
Kai Wähner (Twitter: @KaiWaehner)