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Critical Java update boosts applets

Applets become desktop widgets via Java SE 6u10

The impending Java Platform Standard Edition 6.0 Update 10 (Java SE 6 u10) features technology critical to reviving the concept of client-side Java applets.

An analyst concurred that the update boosts JavaFX.

"The JRE is slimming down at the same time as alternative plug-ins like Silverlight and Flash/Flex are getting beefier, so it helps to make Java (with JavaFX) a competitive alternative to other RIA platform technologies," said analyst Jeffrey Hammond, of Forrester. But Sun still needs to work on getting JavaFX on mobile devices, something not addressed by Java SE 6u10, Hammond noted.

Another boost for applets is inclusion of a built-in Deployment Toolkit in Java SE 6u10. This ensures that users are running the most recent version of Java SE. This makes it easier to deploy applets or Java Web Start programs, Sun said.

Also highlighted is the capability to drag applets directly from a browser and run them as desktop widgets. This is being done by a new implementation of the Java Plug-in. "Browsers don't need to embed the Java [virtual machine] in them. Bryant said.

"My end users can take the mouse, drag that applet out of the browser, drop it on their desktop and now it's running as a desktop [application] outside the browser," Bryant said.

A browser-independent architecture in Java SE 6u10 enables the plug-in to operate in the same fashion across a variety of browsers.

A modern look and feel is featured via Nimbus, offering enhanced user interface controls for developers. It is drawn using Java 2D vector graphics.

To improve graphics performance of Java applications on Windows desktops, the graphics pipeline in Java SE 6u10 has been rewritten to use Direct3D, a 3D API, for tasks ranging from fills and copies to translucency, gradients, and more advanced 2D operations. Runtime performance of Swing applications is bolstered as well via this improvement.

Sun had provided this download URL as the place to access the update. The release candidate for Java SE 6 u10 is available online.

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