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.

date:2007-10-22 20:37:34
tags:java, plugin, Software