Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Iris: Example of combining Java applets and Ajax

Category: Java, Showcase

Last week I got to see Iris, a Flickr manager that uses Java applets and Ajax together to give enhanced features such as:

  • Native desktop integration (drag and drop works, full screen)
  • Rich media: OpenGL for 3D graphics (hardware accelerated), OpenAL for spatialized audio, Java Media codecs

Jasper Potts, a Sun developer, explains Iris, and points us to a video of the product.

There are some really nice features here, although having to click through three “trusted” dialogs is a pain. Also, note that you need Java 6 installed to see the glory.

The Swing team had an interesting time delving into the CSS world, and aren’t fans of it for layout. That being said, they would love to be able to style Swing components in a simple way, and our own Ben has a solution to this problem.


Here we see drag and drop support:

Iris Drag From App

Rich editing of images is available:

Iris Edit

This diagram shows us how the bottom applet fits into a frame and communicates with the Java side.

Iris Pieces

Posted by Dion Almaer at 8:42 am

3.1 rating from 48 votes


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wonderful – and on the heels of the announcement of JavaFX. I have a feeling AJAX, as a paradigm, is not long for this world.

Comment by Karl — May 9, 2007

Well old hat really…Entrust True pass has done this for years, albeit non visually. This could be a way to add strong authentication to an app.

And yeah, the trusted applet warnings are annoying

Comment by Mike — May 9, 2007

Woooow, I cannot believe my eyes.
Indeed, you cannot do such things with other web technology :)

Comment by Me — May 9, 2007


Hardly…..Forgetting about the natural scaling factors involved in a single vs. distributed set of flash pieces – it’s not nearly as scalable from a dev perspective.

Tell me really do you believe you’ll find the same number of developers able to “hack” in swing / flash as can be done in html? No – you can’t. The abstraction is too close to the real thing for that….Very powerful when you need it I’m sure but not quite an “ajax” killer.

Comment by Jesse Kuhnert — May 9, 2007

I am getting org.jdesktop.iris.ToolboxApplet not found.

Is there a Flash/Flex implementation available ? ;-)

Comment by Sam — May 9, 2007


If you are referring to JavaFX, it is an AJAX killer. If you are referring to the scalability of flash and are saying it isn’t – I agree totally.

JavaFX has been around as fe3 for a while and is built on java. more importantly it is an abstraction of java, making rapid development of robust applications a reality. The topic of this post exists in a gap(hybrid), behind us is AJAX, ahead of us is JavaFX.

Comment by Karl — May 9, 2007


I have no idea what you talking about / smoking but if it works for you it works for me. =p

Comment by Jesse Kuhnert — May 9, 2007


Unless it can be integrated directly into the browser’s runtime rather than just another clueless plugin (Flash, Java, Quicktime, Windows Media, ad nauseum), I don’t think that many people will want a part of it.

I mean, I only envy Flash because of the video and vector animation playback that it offers; Wikipedia would be able to use it for those reasons, too, if it wasn’t for the extra-proprietary locks on Flash.

So of course, the only option open to them is Cortado, a Theora-playing Java applet by Flumotion, which has issues of its own. Yet, this is only because Sun has consistently ignored its once-heavily-touted Java Media Framework, and has never (until only recently, post-McNealy) given an iota of a thought as to how they would improve their desktop offerings.

And yet now, it wants to get back into the “rich out-browser web application” ego championships against Microsoft and Adobe, complete with their own army of stereotypically thin-skinned, overly-defensive sheeple developers and blogevangelists?

Why can’t it clean its own house first, like shaping up – no, REFORMING – how Java applets historically take forever to render within any given browser for any given purpose?

Unless, of course, they’ve left the applet in the dustbins of computing history’s flaming failures and switched completely to the slightly-less-troublesome Java Web Start?

I wouldn’t be surprised.

Comment by Rayne Van-Dunem — May 9, 2007

Well said Rayne. I think Sun needs to take a clean-state approach than try to tweak with Applets. It is time to let go of the old cheese. A good server-side technology does not guarantee client-side performance.

Comment by Subramanian — May 19, 2007

Do you have any idea where can i get the IRIS sources? Or information about how this demo was implemented? I tried to access to the project on but it’s closed.

Comment by Nicolas CASTEL — May 29, 2007

NO FUNCIONA, o es que este proyecto ya está en el olvido?

Comment by EliasBG — September 5, 2007

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