Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Sun has rewritten the browser Java plugin

Category: Java

Ben and I are sitting in a Sun briefing where Ken Russell of Sun is announcing that they have ground up rewritten the Java plugin in the browser. The features of the rewrite are:

  • Improved scripting support (java/javascript integration is better)
  • Improved reliability
  • Supports more powerful applets (applets can ask for more memory)
  • Better windows vista support (signed applets)
  • Enterprise features (run one applet in a particular JRE version)

This will be released via a Java 6 update beta and they will have the new plugin turned off by default, and you will be able to turn it on via a switch in the Java control panel. It has been tested in IE 6, 7, Firefox 3 alpha, and they are hoping that Mozilla back ports the fixes to Firefox 2.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 8:21 pm

3.5 rating from 45 votes


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I’m wondering if this for linux/mac or just for the windows guys

Comment by Psychiccyberfreak — October 17, 2007

I would imagine that Apple will release a new version of Java once its out of beta. Typically they release Java updates within a few days of general release on Windows.

Comment by Philip Plante — October 17, 2007

Call me stupid here, but why on EARTH would they make this new plugin for the Firefox 3 BETA and not the current, used by the masses around the world Firefox 2???? Talk about STUPID!! Why would they worry about IE6 and 7? Why not write it for IE8 Beta when it comes out? C’mon Sun, get your heads in the game!

Comment by Henaway — October 17, 2007

But I think the important question is… Will the new plugin not freeze the entire browser for 20 seconds when it loads a measly 30k applet?

Comment by Paul Irish — October 18, 2007

Paul Irish,

Java SE 6 Update N (not sure if this is the version talked about in this article) already has much reduced start time via the new Quick Starter functionality (also has to be manually enabled from the control panel for the time being). Update N will be released early next year but is available from the Early Access program already.

Comment by Magnus — October 18, 2007

Too little, too late?

Comment by Tim Cooijmans — October 18, 2007

“the new plugin turned off by default”

Official acknowledgement of failure…..

I know if I say this, there’ll be at least 10 guys who will say “but java sucks because, for example, it’s slooooow” (in fact, I bet it would be their only example) but…

There could be a LOT of things current developers could learn from Java. Like: well worked-out layers, possibility of binary (obscure) distribution still with open usage on API level, ability to call native libraries on certain platforms, rich standard library. When will all these be available for javascript?


Comment by Adam Nemeth — October 18, 2007

I guess performance is still poor.
Too bad Sun already missed the RIA boat.

Silverlight have taken all the right steps as a new comer. Rich media, declarative markup, and a mega-ultra-super fast renderer.

Comment by Vijay Santhanam — October 18, 2007

I agree with the Java problem… from my point of view, Java in the browser died because of the freezing every time you entered a set of pages. I’ve got dozens of support requests from friends which in the end all resulted in the Java plugin being uninstalled. Would it be that terrible to let the browser resume its duties while you start up Java.

About Silverlight. In its current form its bound to fail, because it has not learned the most basic lesson from FlashPlayer: People don’t want to worry about plugins. FlashPlayer’s stringest point is the installer. You run it and suddenly it opens the MAcromedia page and you’re done. Wheras Silverlight asks a bunch of questions and finally requires a restart.

In order for a browser plugin to get accepted you have to imagine the little sister running to her big brother and asking “Peter, a Page wants be to install something called Silverlight. Is that OK?” Right now there are two possible answers from big brother
a) No Idea what Silverlight is. Sounds like some hacker thing, probably a virus. Don’t install it!
b) No… you’ll have to restart and I’ll have to come and restart your game afterwards. Just go to some other page.

Comment by Hans Schmucker — October 18, 2007

Hmm, I’ve never had to restart when installing Silverlight, not even when installing 1.1 over 1.0 and not even had to restart the browser

Comment by Magnus — October 18, 2007

@magnus –

I had to restart on both FF2 and IE7 when Sliverlight was installed.

IMO, Java is so pervasive that giving the masses of Java developers better tools is only going to make more types of Java development mainstream.

Comment by Karl M — October 18, 2007

I wasn’t aware that any websites still used Java.

Comment by Andy Kant — October 18, 2007

This sounds very promising.

Java integration with browsers has always been very sloppy, but Java is such a powerful tool and so well suited for today’s style of web application.

Invisible applets scripted using Javascript are a great way to provide your app with network access, file access, and a way to do heavier operations that would be ugly and slow in crappy browser JS implementations.

Excited. I want to get my hands on this beta.

Comment by The "T" Zone — October 18, 2007

An old dog cannot learn new tricks.
They @Sun always get it wrong. Even if the Nth attempt succeeds, it must be a success indeed, otherwise I see no point of using this in a browser environment. And turned off by default… and no go for FF2… oh baby, its so stupid, so Sun-style…

Comment by Max Shirshin — October 18, 2007

1.) Why is it turned off by default? This is really sad, especially now that 6uN is in its testing stage. Imagine how much testing the new plugin could get if it would be enabled by default – maybe it could become meture enough to be enabled by default even in the final version? Please enable it by default…

2.) I also think that the initial blocking when loading java is a big problem. The same occurs also on Linux, where the plugin loads fast, but blocks a long time until the seperate “javavm”-process finished loading. Its simply very ugly for users.

3.) I just have to agree with othere here. java is great and powerful and the core-parts are rock solid.
However till now deployment technologies (plugin, webstart) all suffered from little developer-attention and were buggy.

I think if the new consumer-eddition works as it is promised, I am quite sure it will be a success. On the other side … if its buggy at the beginning I am afraif many users won’t install it again.

Comment by Linuxhippy — October 19, 2007

Noone understands that java is POWERFUL and FAST, you can do things in java applets that flash can only dream.
Think about full opengl 3d games that run in your browser.

The problem about java applets is that the first time you load an applet you have to launch the java VM, and it takes a lot even on the latest computers.

If they can make a plugin that loads seamlessly like the flash player, than things will change dramatically, and I will start to use applets again.

Comment by web design firenze — October 21, 2007

God.. Why they can’t profile this Java thing ? To make it run faster ? Why can Flash run faster ? Adobe have more money than Sun or what ?

Flash also runs “cross platform”, so I don’t see what it much be slower.

Comment by Nicolae Namolovan — November 1, 2007

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