Thursday, August 12, 2010

browsers vs java

aka: Are browsers solving the same problem that Java was invented to solve?

One of the problems Java intended to solve was this. Websites very super limited in what they could show the user via HTML (or php or within the browser. One solution to all those limitations was to make an executable binary and require the user to install it on their system. This was okay until you realize that applications served over the web tended to change very rapidly. It was unrealistic to expect the user to reinstall new versions all the time. What if the user could navigate to a web page and an application could dynamically be loaded onto their browsers.

Enter, Java applets. They were designed to solve just this problem. But Java applets died out and it is unusual too see anything written in Java on the web anymore.

Why? Because the browser has solved the problem that Java intended to solve all along. For the longest time, a browser was a viewer, which could render static HTML pages. Today, a browser is more of a virtual machine which runs JavaScript (and soon HTML5) at an incredible speed.

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