By Kevin Yank

Java applets to gain new life in Mac Firefox

By Kevin Yank

(Via MozillaZine) Firefox 1.5 for Mac OS X will have the Java Embedding Plugin built in to allow the browser to take advantage of the latest version of Java on that platform.

Java applets have had a rough time of it, as technologies go. Hyped beyond all reason when it first emerged, the technology was quashed by Microsoft’s sabotage of Java with the continual re-release of its out-of-date and stagnant Java Virtual Machine (VM).

Today, Java applets are an extremely capable technology. An ideal platform for building many of the rich Internet applications that everyone seems to be talking about, its biggest disadvantage continues to be the limited availability of the current version of the technology in Web browsers.

This is changing, however, with big-name PC builders like Dell and HP shipping their machines with Java preinstalled. Currently, one of the most troublesome holdouts is Firefox on Mac OS X, ironic since Apple is renouned among Java developers for supporting Java by building it into its operating system. Though Mac OS X has Java 1.4.2 built in, with experimental support for Java 5, Apple’s API for 3rd party Web browsers like Firefox is frozen at the now-obsolete Java 1.3.1, forcing applet developers who want full cross-browser support to avoid features offered by newer releases (such as XML support).

The Java Embedding Plugin, an open source project headed by Steven Michaud, came to the rescue by overriding the built-in Java support in browsers like Firefox and taking advantage of the up-to-date Java version in Mac OS X. Until now, end-users had to install the plugin before applets that required Java 1.4 or later would work in Firefox on the Mac.

Now, with Firefox 1.5 set for release in November, Java developers will be one step closer to seamless deployment of applets across all major browsers and platforms.

Full disclusure: SitePoint sells Editize, a product that relies on Java applet technology.

  • A little off topic, but what’s going on with editize? Been months without word.

    – eric

  • Right now, our approach to Editize is to keep it stable and cross-browser/platform compatible for the customers who have paid for it. The current version of Editize is quite successful on these fronts, so we’ve had to make very few if any bug fixes over the past few months.

    As for development of significant new features, I’m hoping to be able to do a major 3.0 release sometime next year, but it all depends on where SitePoint’s priorities will lie at that time. If we can justify the work involved, I’d like Editize 3.0 to fully support CSS, and present users with a set of content formatting tools specifically adapted to the styles in use on your site.

  • Thanks Kevin, Exactly what I wanted to hear. I’ve used editize on, and they absolutely love it….

    – Eric

  • Why Is Name Mandatory For Posting Anonymously?

    Your history is a bit selective. Microsoft’s JVM was universally praised when it first came out for being the fastest implementation around.

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  • amar

    I am developing an applet, which has to run on firefox 2.0 in mac 10.4.8. The problem is that even though my applet runs fine on firefox 2.0 on Mac OS X 10.4.2, it does not even show up on FireFox2.0 in Mac OS X 10.4.8, but the same applet also works fine on safari 2.0.4 on Mac 10.4.8.
    Can you please suggest where have i gone wrong.

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