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Oct 21

What the rebirth of Java Applets could mean

Gears, Google, Java, JavaScript, Tech with tags: Add comments

I just posted about the Sun announcement on Java Applets 2.0 (even if the PR folk kept telling us it was an “update” not an “announcement”).

The web community tends to poo poo the applet. We scoff at the startup time. We complain at the cross browser issues that went against the point. We moan at the speed. We groan at the image mouseover examples.

However, if we get off of our high horse for a minute and think about what a world where Java in the browser was actually decent, we get an interesting picture.

If the plugin could be in control of the cross browser / platform issues, then it could allow us to write rich components that work on all. We could build and register a really nice file upload component for example that takes over type=”file” to do a lot more. We could use JNLP (or something else) to register the modules, and when we get winners, could even standardize them.

If we then think about SQLite databases in the browser. We could actually use Hibernate to work with it. The JavaScript / Java bridge is already decent, and could get even easier / better.

If the Java Plugin is done well, it could become a platform to build on. This is a big if though, and there is the spectre of Java 1.x in IE looming out there. Is there a way to get around that though?

// beginning of the plugin simply does
if ie and freaking old Java 1.x
run the installer

As I think about this, Gears and Java could actually do some interesting work together.

6 Responses to “What the rebirth of Java Applets could mean”

  1. Rudolf Olah Says:

    “We scoff at the startup time. We complain at the cross browser issues that went against the point. We moan at the speed. We groan at the image mouseover examples.”

    I haven’t had a problem with startup time since…2001? The cross browser issues are tiny as well. The only one I’m aware of is having to use Java 1.5 to be able to target Mac OS X machines. The speed seems fine too.

    I don’t get what you mean by the image mouseover examples.

  2. brikhouse Says:

    IF the java plugin was well done. IF java started a lot faster. IF java wasn’t the huge memory pig it is and has always been. IF applets didn’t make users computers freeze for 1 minute. IF all end-users had development quality hardware.

    Let’s face it… this is NEVER, EVER, EVER going to happen!

    Not unless Sun (or someone) creates an MVM. But tragically, they’ve shown absolutely no desire or competency in creating one for over 12 years.

  3. Rob Says:

    I’m definitely hoping for better applet support, but I don’t follow your logic at the end… the plugin will check for IE and freaking old Java 1.x…. then run the installer? To install the plugin which must be already there, doing the checking? Hm…

    The problem wouldn’t be an issue if Sun had always been careful to how the plugin worked…. all it takes is using the plugin tag instead of to avoid the MS 1.1 JVM. But alas, Sun has NOT be careful about their plugin, so now we have to deal with a mess of older JVMs and their poorly written plugins… so for now is the best we can do if we want as many people as possible to view the applet. And I guess just check the JVM from your applet code….

  4. Tom Says:

    Except that applets on the Mac, at least for Firefox, still stink. (Example: I really don’t want the Java Console popping up then autominimizing when people hit my site.) I don’t use Safari, so I wouldn’t know for sure there. JNLP isn’t super hot either. I don’t have applet experience on Linux. General story, applet rebirth (including that important open source issue) is still years off if ever it comes.

  5. amnon Says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Java (been writing in it for years), but there is also another alternative for accessing SQLite, or Java or practically anything you can think of from JavaScript within a Web page – check out

  6. yahooclub Says:

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