Skip to main content
  1. Posts/

Sun Rewrites Java Browser Plugin

I’m not sure that Java applets are even relevant to software development today, but this interview (via Ajaxian ) regarding the rewritten Java browser plugin caught my attention:

Java Applets Reborn from Dion Almaer on Vimeo .

So the most interesting things (to me):

  • The plugin itself is mostly written in Java. I love these sort of recursive language exercises (see PyPy), if nothing else for their turtles all the way down effect. But I suppose this actually makes a certain degree of sense: if you have a fixed set of resources and you’re putting lots of them towards improving the JVM/JRE, you can take advantage of those improvements by writing your plugin in Java. They don’t talk about the architecture of the old plugin much, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to find out the native-code “shim” used to communicate between the browser and the JVM is easier to maintain than the old plugin was.
  • Applets run in a completely independent process (not just thread).
  • An applet can demand to run with a particular JRE version. They label this “enterprise support.” I’d call it “sanity support.”

None of this really speaks to whether it’s too little, too late. It seems like a good move on Sun’s part, especially given the recent attention on rich internet applications (RIAs) has focused (not necessarily undeservedly) on Flash , Adobe AIR (the vapor-ware jokes write themselves, don’t they?) and Microsoft Silverlight . The amount of press and attention may indicate this is an area whose time has come. And while I admit having a begrudging soft spot for Java, it seems that companies (especially capital-“E” “enterprise” companies) who already have lots of in house Java expertise could benefit from being able to extend that knowledge down to the desktop. Maybe.