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Consumer JRE: Applets Meet Java Web Start

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A recent Sun Developer Network article proclaims that "applets are back", citing the upcoming Java 6 Update 10 release as the cause.

The article lists several changes to applets and the Java plug-in that are meant to revitalize the technology:
  • Improved reliability
  • Improved user experience
  • Applets launch in the background
  • Built-in JNLP support
  • Per-applet command line arguments
  • Heap size, Java 2D API acceleration options
  • Improved Java/JavaScript programming language integration
  • Improved Windows Vista support
  • Signed applets now work correctly in Protected Mode Internet Explorer
The article goes on to highlight what the authors consider to be the most significant change:
The most significant new feature of the next-generation Java Plug-in is built-in support for launching applets from JNLP files. Using the JNLP file format as the applet descriptor allows applets to instantly reuse JNLP extensions previously written for Java Web Start applications, and significantly expands the capabilities of applets in many other ways.
This new design has several implications regarding Java applet usage in the future. After this release, customizations previously only available with Java Web Start will be made available in Java applets as well. Included in that list are:
  • Access to JNLP extensions - There are several extensions for Java Web Start, including JOGL support and JavaFX support.
  • Java version selection and control - JNLP files support fine-grained management of the required Java version for the defined application.
  • JNLP APIs - JNLP has several APIs for managing downloads, filing saving and opening, interacting with the clipboard, printing, and a number of other features.
  • VM/Command-Line Arguments - Java Web Start applications can control JVM-specific start-up settings, including memory settings, garbage collection flags, and several other system-level controls.
Part of this change includes per-applet JVMs; applets running as a separate process. Java applets will no longer run as part of the browser's process, protecting the browser from applet performance issues (and vice-versa), and also allowing for better JVM management by the applet itself.

A recent article at InfoQ: 'Pivot: Re-inventing the Applet?' discussed a new UI toolkit targeted specifically at the applet enhancements described in this Sun Developer Network article:
Pivot, as a platform, is meant to directly compete with Flex and Silverlight as a rich-client that is embeddable directly in the browser. The Pivot developers consider part of that platform to be Java 6 update 10 (also known as the consumer JRE).
Similarly, JavaFX, a new scripting language technology from Sun is also relying on the new Consumer JRE, and is targeted to compete in the rich internet application space next to Flex and Silverlight. InfoQ has a number of articles covering the changes occurring with JavaFX.

InfoQ will continue to report on new information and milestones regarding Java 6 update 10, and the impacts to Java in the RIA space.

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Community comments

  • next generation plugin not found in jdk7 dev builds, any hink?

    by Raphaël Valyi /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Hi,

    I tend to use the jdk7 since it looks really stable already (but not for prod of course) and also because it fixes a Sun nasty AWT bug (see bugs.sun.com/bugdatabase/view_bug.do?bug_id=485... ), related to that Netbeans bug: www.netbeans.org/issues/show_bug.cgi?id=119617

    Still, in the file layout distro of jdk7, I can't find the next generation plugin. Any idea why it's not bundled?

    Congrats to Sun for the new plugin anyway. I'm not sure it's not too late though to make a come back in the RIA space. But I would definitely prefer to use Java for RIA rather than say learning Flash or Silverlight if ever that plugin becomes mainstream.

    Regards,

    Raphaël Valyi.

  • end user deployment

    by Vic C /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    IMO, the bugs for webstart from many years ago are not addressed, and the end users will be afraid to deploy. What is the end user deployment for this runtime?

    Docs say it does not support FireFox2, Mac or Win64, but still... how many end users are that?

    Relative to: onflex.org shows how many people deployed flash, on the top right. I do not want to develop if there are no end users.

    No end users = no developers.

    .V

  • Re: end user deployment

    by Michael Bien /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Vic,



    the majority of users which installed Firefox2 manually already updated to FF3 (the linux users probably even without noticing it ;) ). 64 bit support is planned for early 2009.



    What deployment bugs do you mean which have not yet been fixed?

  • Re: end user deployment

    by Dan Tines /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    the majority of users which installed Firefox2 manually already updated to FF3


    I highly doubt that.

  • Re: end user deployment

    by Michael Bien /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    the majority of users which installed Firefox2 manually already updated to FF3


    I highly doubt that.

    So, you haven't updated yet? ;)

  • Re: end user deployment

    by Dan Tines /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    the majority of users which installed Firefox2 manually already updated to FF3


    I highly doubt that.

    So, you haven't updated yet? ;)



    No, I was just referring to those millions and millions of users you don't know ;)

  • Re: end user deployment

    by Vic C /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Michael,
    lopica.sourceforge.net/faq.html has some old time bugs and workarounds. Really the end users have a hard time installing and running applets and webstart.
    After the issues are fixed and released, then sometime after people start adopting, and after some time of adoption there's enough of installed base of end users for developers to target. Most optimistically, Sun will not solve w/ current resource commitment this decade. For sun to say we won't support FF 2 or apple is silly.

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