Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Ken Russell on the new Java Plugin

Category: Java, Podcasts, Recording

After we posted about the news that Sun has rewritten the browser Java plugin system, we got a chance to sit down with the lead engineer on the project, Ken Russell.

He got to tell us about the fun implementation issues behind the rewrite. It turns out that the new system is mostly written in Java itself, and there is a very thin bridge to the browser. The JVM also runs in its own OS process, so if the JVM crashes it doesn’t affect the browser.

There were also other tidbits, such as having JNLP working natively in the browser, and how this could be used to allow other scripting engines such as JRuby to run in the browser. One JNLP extension, and everyone can share JRuby.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 10:00 am

3.1 rating from 113 votes


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Comment by Karl M — October 18, 2007

I hope this is actually an improvement in Applet load times. AS3 is now out and supported in many browsers, and with it came huge improvements in performance that put AS3 ahead of Java applets in my mind. However if Java developers have come up with a method to speed the start time up then it can put it back on par with AS3.

Comment by Philip Plante — October 18, 2007

Do you never learn? How many times has everyone complained about embedded quicktime? seriously – stop.

Comment by ben — October 18, 2007

I’d rather have then break the site a little then not post info about cool stuff like this.

Comment by Jon Hartmann — October 18, 2007

We through it up as quicktime while we worked on getting it into Flash.

We replaced the quicktime version with a Vimeo flash version which keeps the high quality and allows for the length (we couldn’t use YouTube because of the length).

Comment by Dion Almaer — October 18, 2007

I only have nightmares about Java embedded into the browser. To this day I still set my browser preferences to disable Java. It’s very likely I’ll miss a revolution without even knowing it.

Comment by Dustin Diaz — October 18, 2007

The new 1.7 release will have the new lightweight VM people keep talking about(Consumer JRE). Think of it like this: having all the correctness and utility the java language provides with sub-second startup time – in a browser.

Silverlight and Flash are client-side environments. java is both a language and a platform. C# is a language, .NET is a platform, Ruby is a language, etc… IMO, this simple fact – that java is both – has allowed it to survive and become the next COBOL, only with pretty transparency. =)

I will be able to write a Java applet that calls an EJB(from a web browser) that talks to a financial services application on the mainframe in

Comment by Karl M — October 18, 2007

ugh…. there’s a post-limit?!?!

Comment by Karl M — October 18, 2007

Thanks for posting this, but all that background noise seriously gave me a headache

Karl M,
The “Consumer JRE” is actually Java 6 update 5 which will be released early next yeat and the Early Access version of Java SE 6 Update N already has many of the new features

Comment by Magnus — October 18, 2007

Very interesting interview, but the massive background noise killed all the fun.

A separate process should indeed speed up things quite a bit – especially on multi core machines. Just imagine you have several tabs open and all those flash ads cause the browser process to use quite a lot of power. If it’s running in another process it can just run over at another core.

Comment by Jos Hirth — October 18, 2007

Round up!

3.8 out of 5 stars should appear as 4 stars.

Comment by star — October 18, 2007


Comment by dejagothic — October 18, 2007

Everyone knows this situation: browser stops responding and repainting and you cannot do anything. And there’s a message “starting java…” in the status bar. That’s the reason why everyone hates java. Why flash starts immediately?

Is the new plugin solving this or not?

Comment by Martin — October 19, 2007

Since it is supposed to start in a separate process, it is unlikely to freeze the browser. Since it is supposed to have sub-second startup times (will undoubtedly be more when it needs to download and load a big jar file), it shouldn’t take ages to start up anymore.

Who knows, maybe we’ll be doing client-side programs in Clojure ( next year.

Comment by Reggie Drake — October 19, 2007

@martin – yes, this supposedly solves the startup issue, though the other poster is correct with regards to if you have a lot of code to pull down, though imagine pulling down an word processor once, then caching it.
AJAX has been evolving to offer the functionality of Java while Java has had performance issues. They both have a goal of offering RIA so what is easier: building up to an complete RIA with AJAX or refining Java down to provide RIA? IMO, if the Java team at sun can pull this off they will have leapfrogged the entire AJAX paradigm.

Comment by Karl M — October 19, 2007

Looks like Sun has something for them when they release this. But we’ll see how easy or hard it will be to do the same things people can already do in Flash, Silverlight and AJAX.

Comment by Andrew Assarattanakul — October 19, 2007

Check this out. Will the new java plugin care for this:

Comment by Richard — October 20, 2007


The only fact that you are comparing javascript to java, makes me understand what a bad name java made of itself during the “applet days”.

Java can do incredible things, that javascript or flash, or both can’t even imagine to do.

I really hope that this new plugin and the new lightweight VM will change things.

Comment by web design firenze — October 21, 2007

They should call it Java, new and improved with “Instant On.”

Comment by Kevin Chiu — October 23, 2007

1. What about an auto-install of the Java plugin for Linux Firefox? Now, you have to install the JRE and manually create a link from the Firefox plugin directory to the JRE plugin. This is so bad – you cannot go commercial with this.

2. What about a 64-bit plugin for a 64-bit Linux architecture? Today, we have to install 32-bit Firefox and 32-bit plugin on a 64-bit Linux. This is non-intuitive. Also, another no-no for commercial clients.

Comment by Alex Koifman — October 24, 2007

The best news I heard! I had a java klok applet that always freeze the browser 10 seconds. It really annoys me. Hope this plugin will be released as soon as possible. But why sun always does things so slowly?

Comment by stevpan — December 8, 2007

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