For Java developers, garbage collection could be less of a headache. Yesterday, Oracle released Update 4 for Java SE 7, which includes Garbage-First (G1), the next-generation garbage-collection algorithm. Additionally, Update 4 includes the first version of JavaFX for the Macintosh platform.

G1 has been in development as a wholesale replacement for existing Java garbage collection, known as CMS. From Oracle’s documentation on the G1 algorithm: “G1 is planned as the long-term replacement for the Concurrent Mark-Sweep Collector (CMS). Comparing G1 with CMS, there are differences that make G1 a better solution. One difference is that G1 is a compacting collector. G1 compacts sufficiently to completely avoid the use of fine-grained free lists for allocation, and instead relies on regions.”

On the JavaFX side of the update, the Java-language-based presentation layer platform now has the ability to play MPEG-4 media files, and includes better font-rendering capabilities for LCD screens. This release also included a developer preview of the new JavaFX Scene Builder, which enables developers to drag and drop elements to create a user interface.

Nandini Ramani, vice president of development for the Oracle Fusion Middleware Group, said that JavaFX is maturing in line with the road maps laid out at JavaOne last year.

“We have an HTML editor; we converted all the JavaFX Script APIs to be totally Java,” she said. “We’ve retained some of what people found interesting about JavaFX Script. We have the hardware-accelerated graphics stack, and a new layer called Glass, which is like AWT. We now have media, graphics and all the things that make up a good RIA platform.”