Java Applets, What went wrong?

May 17, 2006

When the web was in its early days Java applets were the first introduction of real interaction for web pages, allowing animated images, calculators etc. With newer technologies such as JavaScript and Flash the humble Java applet is seen less and less. I see the reason for this partly to newer technologies being more lightweight and partly to Sun simply not marketing/ integrating their technology better. The newer technologies offer much of the common functionality without the overhead Java applets provide, and with the ease of use Flash brings, as well as its ability to make very nice interfaces you can see how it grew so popular. Meanwhile Java applets didn't appear to make much progress?

Everyone will be aware of the horrible grey box that is displayed when an applet fails to load, no nice message, no prompt to upgrade your runtime, just an ugly grey box. Add this to the lack of user feedback when an applet is loading (ugly grey box until it's finally loaded), compared to the nice progress indicators common with flash files and you have what now seems like old, ugly and slow technology.

And let’s not forget the awful Java plug-in, good idea, but in my opinion badly implemented. The Java plug-in should not need to add it self to the control panel, nor should it need to add it self to the system tray when an applet is loaded! A better updating interface would be nice too, those popup boxes are very annoying. All this must be especially confusing to non technical users! This is another area Flash has succeeded.

As a Java programmer and big fan of the technology/ language I see this as a bit of a shame, especially as Java as so much to offer (security was never an issue compared to active x). Although I am much more of a fan of Java on the server side 🙂


One Response to “Java Applets, What went wrong?”

  1. halcyon Says:

    haha my Java plugin for firefox appears as a virus on AVG
    and flash dosent work properly on my firefox either >_

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