Once ubiquitous Applet is finally being prepped for an exit come Java 9

Around the year 1999, Java Applets were in the pink of their youth. Whole careers around web designing were springing up with the promise of Java applet driven websites driving the next stage of the internet boom.

I was mid-way through my Computer Science Engineering course when this talk of applet driven websites with a relatively new language Java started going around the study circles. There was no Facebook or Orkut to grab on to the trending news so we relied on classroom and computer lab discussions to gather whatever information we could around the latest technology.

One thing I do remember is that among all the websites I used to access over my 33 Kbps dial-in internet connection, the ones with Java applets were the slowest to load. Although it would take a few years for the internet to speed up but the prospects of making a quick buck as a Java web designer armed with applets was making us all eager to graduate and start rolling in the bucks.

Then in the year 2000 came the famous dot com bust and we were left high and dry with the “Core Java – Complete Reference” book occupying the corner of my study table looking like a spent-up promise. We were unsure then whether to keep pursuing Java or go back to the humble and dogged C & C++. That apprehension, however, turned out to be false as in 2002, I picked up that book again. From then onward not only did things start to turn for the better, Java applets also settled down into comfortable acceptance across the web designing world.

Further on now, in 2016, with tech waters of more then a decade flowing from below the innovation bridge, and like all things tech, applets too are facing obsolescence. Driven by the security fears around use of applets in browsers early on, followed by a decent sized following of Flash and finally HTML 5, have all made applets outdated and cumbersome.

Knowing all this, it was still a surprise for me, when a few days back I saw the JDK 9 JEP list1 and saw JEP-289 which said that applets are going to be marked as deprecated in Java 9. This, we all know, is the first step in the formal removal of applets and their JVM support, in one of the forthcoming versions of Java.

The official reason/motivation for deprecating Applet API is2

To run a Java applet in a web browser requires the use of a browser plug-in. As of late 2015, however, many browser vendors have either already removed plug-in support or else announced timelines for such removal. Once browser plug-ins disappear, there will be no reason to use the Applet API.

Java 9 is coming in March 2017 and that is when the Applets will be marked for exit by officially deprecating them. Whatever be the fate which awaits Applets, they will always be remembered as the technology that fuelled the first dot com bubble!

As a parting note, some throwback nostalgia. Remember the code for that Hello World applet3 all of us created for the first time around the turn of the century and awed ourselves with the animated letters flowing on the screen…

import java.applet.Applet;
import java.awt.Graphics;
public class HelloWorld extends Applet {
    public void paint(Graphics g) {
        g.drawString("Hello world!", 50, 25);
    }
}
<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE> A Simple Program </TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>
Here is the output of my program:
<APPLET CODE="HelloWorld.class" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=25>
</APPLET>
</BODY>
</HTML>
1.http://openjdk.java.net/projects/jdk9/
2.http://openjdk.java.net/jeps/289
3.The “Hello World” Applet – mit.edu

 

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