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User experience installing 6u10

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Joined: 2007-08-07

I just tried the beta for JDK 6u10 and I was really excited! I've been doing a lot of work with Flash recently, but with the Quickstarter and the Java kernel I could imagine using Java instead. There were always two issues that spoilt the user experience of Java applets, IMO: the Java startup time, and the download time if the user doesn't have Java installed. The Quickstarter addresses the first of these, and the Java kernel addresses the second.

I have got a request, though. Installing Java is now much faster, but would it be possible to make the process simpler as well? Suppose you are using Windows, and you uninstall the Flash player through the control panel. If you now start IE and visit a site that uses Flash, all you see is a box inviting you to install the Flash ActiveX control. If you accept the installation, Flash is installed without the need for the user to answer any more questions.

It would be perfect if the Java installation could be this simple. I think it's easy for us to forget, as programmers, how confused normal users get when they use their computer. Every screen they see in the installation wizard is a chance for them to give up. If they are asked a question which they don't understand, they may give up because they are afraid their computer will go wrong if they answer incorrectly.

Thanks for all your work on Java technology and 6u10.

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Joined: 2007-08-07

There aren't a lot of screens, and I personally don't find it hindering or offensive either. The problem is with users who aren't particularly computer literate. When they are using their computers, they are confused for much of the time, in my experience. What usually happens is that someone shows them how to do a particular task, like searching Google and displaying the resulting web pages. However, they only know how to do these rigidly defined tasks, and lack the confidence to take on something else.

For example, I can imagine the process with Java going something like this. "Oh, I'm being asked to install something. That's not what websites normally do. If I click cancel, do I get back to my comfort zone?" (cancels) "Yes, it's back to normal. But half the content on this webpage is missing. Perhaps I'd better try and do the installation." (try again) "I'm not going to read the license, it's much too long. Perhaps if I click Accept it will go away. Ah, it does. What's the Google toolbar? Aren't toolbars something to do with spyware? My friend will be annoyed if he has to disinfect my machine again. But Google are a nice company, I read about them somewhere. Don't they run the Internet or something? Shall I take a chance?" At this point, some users will carry on, and some users won't. And then it gets to the next screen, and the process repeats itself. At every screen, you lose more of these people, as they lose confidence and abandon the process.

If you think I'm wrong about this, I can try to set up a test if you like. I will uninstall Flash and Java from my machine, then ask someone who isn't a big computer user to visit a webpage that uses each of them, and try to get it displaying properly.

I know there are reasons for all the screens, so it's not just a case of dropping them. (The Google toolbar screen is, I imagine, there because Google paid you.) At the same time, I think you will see benefits from any that you are able to get rid of.

The Deployment Toolkit looks great.

Joined: 2003-07-08

Also, you should look at the deployment toolkit ( It hides a lot of the gory details and makes it easy to have such blocks in web pages for applet content.


Joined: 2004-09-02

I supposed - although how many steps do JRE requires?

As far as I remember, one for license, then one for directory & component choices.

For Flash they do not give users the choice of what and where to install, and hide their licenses as a link on the download page.

Personally I don't find the processes too hindering / offensive, but then that's me :-)

P.S. this discussion might be better placed on the "6uN" section, btw.