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The ongoing switch from Java to Flash

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atehrani
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Joined: 2004-01-14

It pains me to see articles such as this one, online game developer moves to Flash from Java.

http://blog.sharendipity.com/were-moving-to-flash-heres-why

Also the Cisco MeetingPlace application that I use at work recently moved to Flash for desktop sharing, previously it was all Java based.

Update 10 couldn't have come sooner, but I hope it is not too late. What can we do as a community to re-establish the applet brand?

The article states that the technology is sound, but the brand itself is failing.

What are people's thoughts and views?

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linuxhippy
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Joined: 2004-01-07

> It's terrible really. If I were sun I'd throw a
> zillion dollars at hiring the team that designed the
> Flash plugin. What is the problem? Why is the
> plugin so remarkably unstable?
So, yet another "If I were Sun" post.

There is no problem, the plugin has been rewritten for JDK6u10 and currently the last bugs are ironed out.

- Clemens

shaisoft
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Joined: 2007-04-26

Well.. it's true only on the PC.. But Java for mobile (J2ME) is the future language for the mobile platform.. also now we have more cellphones than PC and more Java on mobile support than flash has on PC!!!

cowwoc
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Joined: 2003-08-24

> Well.. it's true only on the PC.. But Java for mobile
> (J2ME) is the future language for the mobile
> platform.. also now we have more cellphones than PC
> and more Java on mobile support than flash has on
> PC!!!

Given the fact that Sun has limited resources I believe they're focusing on the right market. It is far easier for Flash to win on mobile platforms because their platform is much lighter (does less, requires less resources). Java cannot and should not try to go everywhere. It is technically possible to push Java applets onto mobile phones but purely from an efficiency point of view we are better off waiting for the phones to get more efficient and port Java6 update 10 there. For example, take a look at http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/embedded.jsp

My point is: Java is facing an uphill battle in the customer space. It should increase its chances of success by focusing on the market where it is better suited, grow a strong brand name with customers, and grow from there to other markets.

ilazarte
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Joined: 2005-11-28

It's terrible really. If I were sun I'd throw a zillion dollars at hiring the team that designed the Flash plugin. What is the problem? Why is the plugin so remarkably unstable?

I really don't understand why JavaFX script enters the picture at all in Suns mind. The stopping point to getting Java in browsers has been the user experience! Broken downloads, applets which crash browsers, security warnings which scare away users... Why doesn't this happen in Flash? A lot of people actually *love* coding in Java. As a serious scripter in other languages, I know when I have to get something done that matters, I always turn to Java.

Java the media/ria platform needs to look at itself in a brutal light and ask, what do we need to do as a technology to get Youtube to ditch Flash for Java. I'm SURE the last thing the Youtube team would care about would be JavaFX script.

mhall
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Joined: 2003-06-15

YouTube wants good VP6 playback in a quick-loading player.

ilazarte
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Joined: 2005-11-28

that's a key ingredient, but it also serves ads, makes data storage requests for related content, and needs to be able to write to a data store as well for features like youtube annotations.

sounds pretty well-rounded to me.

cowwoc
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Joined: 2003-08-24

> I'm pretty sure you're too late on this one. Just on
> a browser penetration level, you're waaaaay behind.

I question the validity of this statement. According to http://forums.java.net/jive/thread.jspa?threadID=53140&tstart=0 the worse case scenario is 70% Java penetration. Even that figure is extremely pessimistic because Deployment Toolkit doesn't detect all possible JREs. I find it very hard to quantify 70% market penetration as bad. Sure it's worse than Flash but does the extra 10-20% market share really justify downgrading to Flash? There are plenty of things you can't or don't want to do in Flash that can be implemented very well in Java. Just my 2 cents.

PS: I agree with you that Applets have a bad brand name, but I think update 10 opens the door to fixing that. It's never too late so long as we play our cards right.

mrblonde
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Joined: 2009-03-02

This site appears to have unbiased statistics on Java usage:
http://www.statowl.com/java.php

Shows "Undetected" at only 18.50% for February 2009.

andrewhh
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Joined: 2008-02-28

So I thought I'd give JavaFX a try and compare it to Flash. First of all, the installation of a new JRE is absurd under linux. I should never have to use a terminal for this. Secondly, it plain doesn't work. I get the download/choose app dialog when I click on links for jnlp files.

This is a total failure as far as I'm concerned and I would never consider using it after this experience.

linuxhippy
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Joined: 2004-01-07

First of all Flash is completly proprietary. I am not very happy about depending on products of a single company, one of the reasons I chose java years ago.
For me it doesn't matter much wether the dependency is the OS, a proprietary runtime or a proprietary browser.

Flash/Flex seems fine for what it was designed, and thats great.
I had a look at flash recently because of low java adoption (yes, its 70%, but 90% would be better ;)), and for flash its still a long way to go until we can use it for our application.

> First of all, the installation of a new JRE is absurd
> under linux.
Come on, almost every propgram is really hard to install on Linux of you're not using your distribution's package manager.
With the package manager its just a few clicks, and you get updates automatically.

- Clemens

andrewhh
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Joined: 2008-02-28

To the fine folks at Sun, in response to this blog post.

I'm pretty sure you're too late on this one. Just on a browser penetration level, you're waaaaay behind. Youtube certainly didn't help by requiring Flash. Most of the games that hit the popular aggregation sites like reddit and digg require flash. If there was a great game, or a more useful chat widget, or a ubiquitous tool that required java, it would reach the magic threshhold that would enable the startup entrepreneurs to choose it without fear of limiting their market share.

Also, I use Linux, so when I see an applet loading I cringe. I expect a clunky experience that will increase my blood pressure by forcing me to wonder "is it wedged? is my browser hosed? is it a server issue?" Don't make Linux a second class citizen. We Linux users are a vocal, evangelical, knowledgeable and most important, trusted group. We're the ones who told our Windows using friends to ditch IE for Firefox. We're the ones who explain the liabilities of vendor lockin. We are king makers and you ignore us at your peril.

fwiw, I make my money as a java developer

afishionado
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Joined: 2004-05-26

> Also, I use Linux, so when I see an applet loading I cringe.

Really?

Several years ago, I remember having an interesting experience on a laptop that dual-booted XP and Debian. I remember surfing the web on Firefox under XP and hitting a page with an applet, and watching the entire browser freeze for five seconds (yes, five seconds). Under Linux, I would hit a page with an applet, and barely even notice.

No doubt there was something unusual about my configuration (sorry, I don't have that machine any more) but for Java the situation is not as simple as Linux being a "second class citizen". Now for Flash, on the other hand ... :-)

(Posted from a Fedora machine that has swfdec installed instead of Adobe's Flash plugin, and Evince in place of Adobe Reader, because I just can't take Adobe's garbage any more.)