April 06, 2008

Java 6 update 10 (N) the war is on!

I've downloaded Java 6u10 Early Access several days ago but it wasn't until today that I tested the new applet plugin in Firefox 3 to see if it could live up to my expectations. And I must admit... excellent job guys, two thumbs up!!

The Applet features I appreciate the most (probably all):
  • Applet startup time with the quick starter is blazing fast and doesn't slow down the browser
  • Applets run in their own JVM process and can be isolated to one JVM per applet (finally you can provide your applets with a sane VM and you can kill offending applets without killing your browser)
  • Support for JNLP (native libraries / custom JVM startup parameters like memory settings, hallelujah)
  • Customization of JVM launch feedback, no intrusive Sun logo if you want a clean integration (this was a personal request, thanks a lot!)
  • Improved Java - JavaScript communication (I foresee a bunch of Applet widgets :)
If you don't believe me, try this: NASA world wind (a 3D earth in a webpage) or even Quake2 (Jake2) inside an Applet, no offline installation or drivers or libraries required, just click the link and start playing, insanely incredible!!

Damn, this should have been applets way back in time, but now I truly believe the war for the next gen web platform is on! And again congrats Java 6 update N team, you guys did a hell of job!

April 01, 2008

JPA not ready for desktop applications

Ever since JPA was released I wanted to use it. Since I'm working on a desktop application in my free time that needed some offline storage I immediately thought about using JPA for this.
All I needed was a small database to bundle with my application, HypersonicSQL (HSQLDB) is the all-java database I've been using with great success for integration testcases for the past few years. It's only 640KB in size and doesn't require an installation. This means it can be used as a library in a WebStart or Applet application.
For my needs HSQLDB + JPA is great, no more messing around with serializing objects to disk or using the Properties API. Using POJOs for user settings and caching online resources sounds great.
However when looking for examples of using JPA in a desktop application I found very few and I soon figured out why...
First I looked at the JPA provider I was familiar with from the J(2)EE world: Hibernate. After getting all it's dependencies I soon figured out why nobody uses JPA in a desktop application. Although the JPA API is lightweight, the JPA Providers aren't as you can see in the graph on the side. The thing that shocked me the most is that all the providers (including dependencies) are at least 4 times the size of the SQL database. Too bad, because the API was designed to also be used in desktop applications and it could be a huge productivity boost, but these outrageous sizes don't make it good candidates for web-deployment.
JPA Provider developers should really think about the desktop application platform and make a serious effort to reduce it's library size and required dependencies!