In 2008 JavaWorld had written a great article by Jeff Friesen called “Are applets making a comeback?“. Jeff Friesen poses this question to leading thinkers and doers in the Java developer community. Although the question posed to readers may seem rhetorical, and difficult to answer with an emphatic “Yes“. I want to try to answer this question in the year 2010. Right after Oracle has finalized its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Larry Ellison CEO of Oracle had an Oracle + Sun Product Strategy Webcast announcing it would invest heavily in JavaFX. So, currently there are lots of things going on with the JavaFX platform. As the JavaFX platform matures the community should mature. So, hopefully I can encourage you to stay more involved in helping the JavaFX community grow.
Are Applets Making a Comeback?
Many Java Developers who have used Applets in the past, have often felt inadequate when competing with the new Web Order due to all the AJAX and Adobe Flash craze. One of the main complaints about Java Applets was its start-up time. In my opinion ‘Perception‘ is key and when it comes to user experience, it is often said that “If it looks and feels slow, the application is probably not worth running“. I believe that our society has this urge of instant gratification, so being patient is a hard thing to do these days. During years past Java developers have been longing for that day when Java Applets will make its big comeback. While many Sun engineers are working tirelessly solving this problem it always seems on going (It should). Sometimes I’ll come across Java developers still feeling unconvinced whenever an update is released. I also have heard people get quite flustered and a little threatening. I don’t mind if you complain, but do something about it. Then some will say, “What can I do about it?“. Well, the obvious things are forums, blogs and filing bugs. I normally am an early adopter when it comes to Java/JavaFX updates relating to performance increases. Just like folks who decide to buy a new game (Like StarCraft 2) off the shelf they’ll take a look at the graphics requirements such as video ram, etc in hopes their computer can handle it. If not they will likely upgrade their video card or buy a new computer all together. So, upgrading your Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is a snap. So, you are probably wondering where is the part where I encourage you? Well, let me just say with the recent release of JRE 1.6 update 18, I was pretty impressed with the start-up and reload performance increases. To really see how fast Applets start-up I recommend installing the latest JRE (1.6 update 18), and to please visit Oracle/Sun engineer Rakesh Menon’s blog entry called “JavaFX – Applet Startup Time“. On his site you will see a list of many folks taking some time to record metrics and describing their browser, OS, and hardware (Please note: make sure your Java Console is set to display so that a text dump outputting the metrics can later be cut and pasted). I also suggest posting your results if you have a different configuration than the others on the list.
*Note: When clearing the cache (from the Java Control Panel) while having Firefox open be sure to restart Firefox or close tab before re-running the applet.
Once you will notice the start-up time increased you should be able to answer the question yourself “Are Applets Making a Comeback?“. I know I can see the difference and I’m sure you will too. The Java/JavaFX community with tons of libraries and very good boosts in performance, I truly believe it is safe to say with an emphatic “Yes, Applets are making a comeback!”. I also want to mention about two very cool sites to test drive your new JRE w/start-up/reload enhanced:
Lastly, I want to applaud and thank the Java/JavaFX engineers (Rakesh and company) for making these great strides.