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Posted by editor on October 24, 2007 at 8:07 AM PDT

The curious comebacks of applets and the NetBeans Mobile

Yesterday, we featured an interview from in which Ben Galbraith interviews Ken Russell on the newly rewritten Java Plug-In. And right out of the gate, Ben establishes a tone of skepticism.

                    BEN GALBRAITH
           OK, I'm here with Ken Russell, of
           Sun Microsystems.  We're at the client
           update media briefing that Sun put
           on today at the W hotel in San Francisco.
           And Ken's here to talk about the updates
           that Sun has made to the Java Plug-In...
           the Java Plug-In applet architecture
           thing, that runs in browsers.  It's
           pretty exciting stuff, basically a
           whole rewrite of how applets work in
           the browser, and I wanted to talk
           to you Ken about that, because Java
           applets have sucked for the past ten
           years, and we're really excited about
           the prospect of that changing.
                    KEN RUSSELL
           Well, I wouldn't necessarily say that
           they sucked, Ben...

And, insulting one's guest notwithstanding, there is a genuine skepticism about applets that has built up over the years. I can recall magazine after magazine telling readers to turn off Java in their browsers, for reasons of stability and performance. But with the new plug-in running in a separate process, the days of a Java VM crash taking out the browser will soon be at an end. With improvements to applet startup time, and applet startup no longer blocking the browser, users should see both real and perceived performance benefits.

Can applets stage a renaissance at this date? While pundits were happy to tell you a few years back that embedding a rich runtime inside the browser was foolish and undesirable, the YouTube-spawned explosion of interest in Flash has trashed that conventional wisdom. And what's the difference, at least in theory, between a Flash presentation and a Java applet? Each runs in a VM, each reserves its own display space in the page, each is cross-platform and has a set of standard runtime libraries. Thusfar, the Java Plug-In's problems have been a drag on applet adoption. With those issues resolved, will applets really challenge Flash? Hard to predict, but Flash is such a performance dog on the Mac, and its release history on Linux has been hit or miss, so there are genuine opportunities for applets to emerge as the better choice for developers and users.

And if it's weird to think about possibly writing implements java.applet.Applet again, Calvin Austin helps trace the history of how things got this way in today's Weblogs. In
Applets re-birth, what happened?, he tracks the story of applets through the earlier versions of Java:

Applets were dependent on Motif for Unix, something that didn't change until JDK 5 and Sun didn't have a lot of development history with Windows either. The apis was functional but new, there were many early issues with modal dialogs and later motif related drag and drop issues in 1.2

The big push was for Java 1.0 and of course the adoption by netscape, however deployment of 1.1 applets was immediately affected by the pace of netscape development and the infamous reverse dns lookup feature. For applet developers it meant that many complex early applets would 'break' because they were too new or fell foul of corporate firewalls.

And here's another unexpected flashback for you,
The Return of the NetBeansMobile. Tim Boudreau writes,
"like a phoenix from the ashes, perhaps like NetBeans itself, the NetBeans Mobile is once again on the road - I just uploaded my first new photos of the white lines in the middle of the road."

Finally, in
Adieu Java ME?,
Terrence Barr offers his take on the idea that SE will ultimately replace ME on the device.
"Just came across this c|net article titled "Sun starts bidding adieu to mobile-specific Java" -- which  sounds quite dramatic until you set the context. The long-standing trend of hardware evolution is especially obvious in mobile and embedded devices that today can comfortably execute a level of software complexity unimaginable just a few years ago."

The latest Java Mobility Podcast is

Java Mobile Podcast 25: Panel on Open Source .
Dalibor Topic,; Fabiane Nardone, Brazilian Health Care; Tony Wasserman, Carnegie Mellon University; Ashlee Vance, The Register form a panel of outsiders reviewing Sun's Open Source efforts. This session isn't specific to Java ME technologies but is worth listening to as it relates to open source as a whole.

In Java Today,
there's just one week left in the Mobile & Embedded Developer Days conference's Call for Papers. The conference is the first to exclusively focus on mobile and embedded Java platforms, and is targeted for application developers of intermediate and advanced skill levels, platform developers, and technical personnel at tool vendors, OEMs and carriers. The CFP closes on October 31, and registration is expected to begin on November 1.

The JavaFX Script plugin for the NetBeans IDE 6.0 Beta 2 release is now available for your download from the NetBeans Beta Update Center. This preview release includes several bug fixes and two new JavaFX Script sample projects: JavaFX 2D Graphics Tutorial and WeatherFX Sample Application. See the Download and Installation Instructions for more information.

A recent SDN article introduces the ideas and specifics of Clustering in GlassFish Version 2. "Version 2 of the GlassFish Java EE Application Server contains many new features, among them enhanced clustering capabilities. The new clustering capabilities enhance high availability and scalability for deployment architectures through in-memory session state replication. With in-memory state replication, clustered server instances replicate session state in a ring topology, storing the replicated information in memory. This article describes the clustering capabilities of GlassFish version 2 and helps you get started deploying your application to a GlassFish cluster."

You've probably seen lots of updates about JavaFX Script, but what about JavaOne's other JavaFX debut? Answers are in today's Forums, in the thread Re: So where is Mobile JavaFX??, where terrencebarr writes,
"as for Java FX Mobile: Sun is working full steam on getting the evaluation version ready. It takes time to put together such a complex piece of software and to integrate and test it with real devices and operators. Details on availability and licensing will be announced when ready ... I wish there was more specific information available at this point but things are still in flux."

Changing a thread topic somewhat, hallenberg's
Re: Need JVM for ARM 9 Processor asks if having to get both a JVM and an MP3 audio decoder is more work than necessary.
"I'm sorry to butt in a bit off-topic (as this forum is concerned), but why use Java? Madplay does that just fine. All you need is a cross-compiler. The decoding would probably have to be done natively anyhow, so it seems to me like a pain to set up in Java. Just my two cents, I might be wrong."

Finally, some Swing architecture thoughts from kschaefe in
Re: Purpose of TreeTableNode.getColumnCount(...):
"Some good point in there, which give me a couple of thoughts. Does TreeTableNode need a getDepth()? Interesting idea to include it, but that would be problematic. There is no definitition of root other than the node which was assigned as the root for the model. Theorectically, you could have a very large tree that contained many levels and for a particular tree table only display a certain branch of data. That means that the "root" actually has a parent. A getDepth() would also require an isRoot/setRoot flag to determine your depth from the closest root. But that could lead to troubles if the larger model is used simultaneously elsewhere. Not sure if any of that really has a point, but I thought that I'd get my thoughts on paper."

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The curious comebacks of applets and the NetBeans Mobile