Feedback on new applet plugin
I've tried the plugin a few times over the past couple months and wanted to follow up on some unresolved issues now that we're approaching the final release.
1) Is this issue scheduled for resolution? http://forums.java.net/jive/thread.jspa?threadID=39519
2) Are there plans to replace the orange "applet loading" animation with behavior similar to Flash so that pages that contain applets do not distract users while they load? I believe there was an earlier post that made the point that "this isn't the place or time to advertise Java" and I tend to agree. I believe end-users don't want to be spammed with this ad. I appreciate the fact you want to inform developers that Java is being used but I believe this is better accomplished by publishing usage statistics for client-side Java. Sun should publish regular updates that show what percentage of end-users have Java installed and what percentage has what JRE version. I believe this would go a long way towards increasing client-side Java usage.
3) Are there plans to do away with the tray-icon when the plugin loads? I made the point in an earlier post that if your target audience are non-developers then this icon brings them no value (instead it degrades the UI)
4) Are there plans to improve the error message users get when an applet fails to load for some reason? I believe the current message is targeting developers while again I'm concerned about non-developer end-users. Maybe you should have a layman error message with an "advanced" tab to get a stack-trace.
5) Are sufficient number of people using the new plugin on a daily basis? I've only recently upgraded to FireFox3 myself and I consider myself to be an early adopted for most technologies. My concern is that only a handful of real developers will try the plugin ahead of the final release and as a result they will discover a lot of problem after the fact.
Technically-speaking, I am very happy with the new plugin but I believe there is a lot of outstanding UI work that should be taken (just as) seriously when considering a final release. In my view, client-side Java requires Sun to apply a very strong effort to improve the UI of the applet plugin, Webstart and JRE integration into the desktop. I haven't noticed much work being done in this area (again, from a UI point of view, not a technical point of view).