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AJAX, why not Applets

 
 
Dilton McGowan II
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      08-09-2005
Why is AJAX getting such attention, why not just use Applets and have
extreme programming flexibility? Is it so bad if people must download a
single plug-in?


 
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Chris Smith
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      08-09-2005
Dilton McGowan II <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> Why is AJAX getting such attention, why not just use Applets and have
> extreme programming flexibility? Is it so bad if people must download a
> single plug-in?


For one thing, yes it is quite a deterrent that running applets requires
downloading and installing a plugin. That's a very large plugin for
someone (part of slightly under half the U.S. population, and a far
larger percentage in many other parts of the world) still working with a
standard phone line.

The bigger deal, though, is that it's a bother to go to the web site,
agree to the EULA, download something, then find and run it, and click
through all the install screens. That stuff isn't impossible -- and may
even be worth it for an application that sees use on at least a weekly
basis -- but it definitely causes more problems and just makes things
look less magical than if it all just works.

The even bigger deal yet, though, is that applets were designed to be
self-contained, and it shows. Even the little box on the page where the
applet is confined to reside demonstrates how little an applet is
actually a part of the web page, and how much it is its own little thing
that happens to reside in a web page. Matching the look and feel of the
applet with a surrounding page is fragile and will never look quite
right. There isn't anything remotely like HTML/CSS where the server can
generate and transmit on-the-fly a huge variety of content and
presentation choices; it's all got to just be there in code, meaning the
client gets thicker and has to load more stuff up-front. That makes it
feel kludgy to use the page.

In short, there are more problems that I can mention in a reasonable
time-frame. JavaScript has its own issues, of course, but use of
JavaScript to communicate directly with the server really is an exciting
and useful idea as a way that applets never approached.

--
www.designacourse.com
The Easiest Way To Train Anyone... Anywhere.

Chris Smith - Lead Software Developer/Technical Trainer
MindIQ Corporation
 
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Dag Sunde
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      08-09-2005
"Chris Smith" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> Dilton McGowan II <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> Why is AJAX getting such attention, why not just use Applets and have
>> extreme programming flexibility? Is it so bad if people must download a
>> single plug-in?

>
> For one thing, yes it is quite a deterrent that running applets requires
> downloading and installing a plugin. That's a very large plugin for
> someone (part of slightly under half the U.S. population, and a far
> larger percentage in many other parts of the world) still working with a
> standard phone line.
>
> The bigger deal, though, is that it's a bother to go to the web site,
> agree to the EULA, download something, then find and run it, and click
> through all the install screens. That stuff isn't impossible -- and may
> even be worth it for an application that sees use on at least a weekly
> basis -- but it definitely causes more problems and just makes things
> look less magical than if it all just works.
>
> The even bigger deal yet, though, is that applets were designed to be
> self-contained, and it shows. Even the little box on the page where the
> applet is confined to reside demonstrates how little an applet is
> actually a part of the web page, and how much it is its own little thing
> that happens to reside in a web page. Matching the look and feel of the
> applet with a surrounding page is fragile and will never look quite
> right. There isn't anything remotely like HTML/CSS where the server can
> generate and transmit on-the-fly a huge variety of content and
> presentation choices; it's all got to just be there in code, meaning the
> client gets thicker and has to load more stuff up-front. That makes it
> feel kludgy to use the page.
>
> In short, there are more problems that I can mention in a reasonable
> time-frame. JavaScript has its own issues, of course, but use of
> JavaScript to communicate directly with the server really is an exciting
> and useful idea as a way that applets never approached.
>


Agree with Mr. Smith here, but...

In certain cases Applets are *really* usefull. In controlled situations
where you need i.e. a "grid" gui, access to the users clipboard, printer,
et.c. You can use a signed applet, and extend the usefullness of the
browser as a application-container.

I have used that approach for a couple of customers where the users are
a select group of their vendors or customers, and are so far very happy
with it (for 3 years now).

--
Dag.


 
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Andrew Thompson
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      08-09-2005
On Tue, 09 Aug 2005 09:13:21 GMT, Dag Sunde wrote:

> "Chris Smith" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
> news:(E-Mail Removed)...
>> Dilton McGowan II <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>>> Why is AJAX getting such attention, why not just use Applets and have
>>> extreme programming flexibility? Is it so bad if people must download a
>>> single plug-in?

>>
>> For one thing, yes it is quite a deterrent that running applets requires
>> downloading and installing a plugin.

...
>> The even bigger deal yet, though, is that applets were designed to be
>> self-contained, and it shows.

...
>> ..Matching the look and feel of the
>> applet with a surrounding page is fragile and will never look quite
>> right.


That is a very good point Chris, and it seems
lost on most Applet developers. I can select
"Font Zoom - 150%' in the browser menus and a
web page (and it's text and links) will instantly
scale to my needs. An applet (the fonts and such)
won't.

If the author uses styles that do not provide
enough contrast, I can override those styles with
my own (not in IE, but most others). That does
not work for applets either. There is no easy
way for the end user to tweak an applet's PLAF.

>> In short, there are more problems that I can mention in a reasonable
>> time-frame.


I agree, that is part of the problem. So few applet
developers really understand the rigors of web development,
they do not appreciate what the *text* of an actual
web page goes through before it gets presented to the user,
and just how much applets get in the way of that.

I am not saying it would *not* be possible to make an
applet that can gain those advantages (back), But that
would probably require a significant amount of JS, probably
more than it would take to have created the page, and done
basic validation on form fields and such, in a DHTML page.

>>JavaScript has its own issues, of course, but use of
>> JavaScript to communicate directly with the server really is an exciting
>> and useful idea as a way that applets never approached.


What? I must admit I have not tried it, but what
is the problem with an applet connecting to any
number of servlets or other documents/resources
on the site from which it originates?

Did I miss something here?

> In certain cases Applets are *really* usefull. In controlled situations
> where you need i.e. a "grid" gui,


- HTML table

>..access to the users clipboard,


- snippet of JS

>.. printer,


- 'alt f | p', or 'ctrl p' ..in my browser.

> et.c. You can use a signed applet, and extend the usefullness of the
> browser as a application-container.


You need to add those things to a (signed) applet
specifically, whereas they come free with a little
well designed HTML and some snippets of JS.

Perhaps you think I am going a little off topic,
but I am also thinking of another thread where the
(D)HTML/Applet divide was being discussed.
<http://groups.google.com.au/group/comp.lang.java.programmer/msg/7f4320f3a5860ce7>

Again in this thread, I find myself wondering if
there is anything in the applet that could not
be done (usually, better, faster and cleaner)
in appropriate HTML/CSS supported by well
written JS.

--
Andrew Thompson
physci.org 1point1c.org javasaver.com lensescapes.com athompson.info
Presented in BC [Brain Control] Where Available
 
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Dag Sunde
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      08-09-2005
"Andrew Thompson" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:1a20p4ypp1mja.153hxx7ahq6mo$(E-Mail Removed).. .
> On Tue, 09 Aug 2005 09:13:21 GMT, Dag Sunde wrote:

<snipped>
>> In certain cases Applets are *really* usefull. In controlled situations
>> where you need i.e. a "grid" gui,

>
> - HTML table
>
>>..access to the users clipboard,

>
> - snippet of JS
>
>>.. printer,

>
> - 'alt f | p', or 'ctrl p' ..in my browser.
>


An html-table implementing a spreadsheet-like gui, with
multiple selection, cut/copy/paste, formatted print,
save, arrow-key cell-navigation, etc. etc.?

I have thought about trying to implement such a beast in
HTML/CSS/JS several times, but always given up before I've started.

>> et.c. You can use a signed applet, and extend the usefullness of the
>> browser as a application-container.

>
> You need to add those things to a (signed) applet
> specifically, whereas they come free with a little
> well designed HTML and some snippets of JS.


Of course you have to add them, but the complex functionality
I described above (should have been more specific the first time),
does certainly *not* come for free "with a little well designed..."

>
> Perhaps you think I am going a little off topic,
> but I am also thinking of another thread where the
> (D)HTML/Applet divide was being discussed.
> <http://groups.google.com.au/group/comp.lang.java.programmer/msg/7f4320f3a5860ce7>
>
> Again in this thread, I find myself wondering if
> there is anything in the applet that could not
> be done (usually, better, faster and cleaner)
> in appropriate HTML/CSS supported by well
> written JS.


The scenario I described above is one of the main reasons I
turn to Applets once in a while. (My customers are brokers,
and live & breathe Excel). So if you have any suggestions on
better, faster and cleaner, implemented in HTML/CSS/JS, I will
be eternally grateful.

--
Dag.


 
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Andrew Thompson
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      08-09-2005
On Tue, 09 Aug 2005 11:33:17 GMT, Dag Sunde wrote:

>>> In certain cases Applets are *really* usefull. In controlled situations
>>> where you need i.e. a "grid" gui,

>>
>> - HTML table

...
> An html-table implementing a spreadsheet-like gui, ..

[snip]

Well (harumph) that is a lot more specific than "grid",
and yes, I agree you have already gone beyond what I
would recommend for DHTML. The JS could probably do it,
but the complexities of x-browser support would probably
make the end JS significantly larger than the (compressed)
applet.

--
Andrew Thompson
physci.org 1point1c.org javasaver.com lensescapes.com athompson.info
Transmitido en Martian en SAP
 
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James Yong
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      08-09-2005
"Dilton McGowan II" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> Why is AJAX getting such attention, why not just use Applets and have
> extreme programming flexibility? Is it so bad if people must download a
> single plug-in?
>
>

Hi,

Just to add on. I am not sure why people wanted to use Ajax at all.

For form validation, it is safer to have it done at server side rather than
client side validation. Because the user may turn off javascript support of
the browser.

Shouldn't this consideration be taken that it is better not to have Ajax
because it is dependent on javascript.

BTW, I never used Ajax before.

Regards,
James


 
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Andrew Thompson
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      08-09-2005
On Tue, 9 Aug 2005 21:20:24 +0800, James Yong wrote:

> "Dilton McGowan II" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
> news:(E-Mail Removed)...
>> Why is AJAX getting such attention, why not just use Applets and have
>> extreme programming flexibility? Is it so bad if people must download a
>> single plug-in?

....
> Just to add on. I am not sure why people wanted to use Ajax at all.
>
> For form validation, it is safer to have it done at server side rather than
> client side validation.


In what situations are you recommending the server
does not *also* do validation?

>..Because the user may turn off javascript support of
> the browser.


Yes, of course they might.

Then again, I dealt with a project where the D/B
programmers wanted to do all validation at the
front door of the D/B, as seemed to make perfect
sense to me (ultimately, the D/B has to look after
itself, first).

As opposed to the GUI people who were arguing that
they wanted to do all validation in the GUI and
'just trust us'.

Since the project had only enough budget to do
one or the other, the managers chose 'client side'
and as a result, chaos reigned as D/B and GUI people
read specs. in different ways, and no end of crappy
data was corrupting the D/B.

If you have to choose '1 or the other', keep the
validation on the server or D/B that is supposed
to be *acting* on the information.

--
Andrew Thompson
physci.org 1point1c.org javasaver.com lensescapes.com athompson.info
Fun For The Whole Family (Except Grandma and Grandpa)
 
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James Yong
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      08-09-2005

"Andrew Thompson" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> On Tue, 9 Aug 2005 21:20:24 +0800, James Yong wrote:
>
> > "Dilton McGowan II" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
> > news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> >> Why is AJAX getting such attention, why not just use Applets and have
> >> extreme programming flexibility? Is it so bad if people must download a
> >> single plug-in?

> ...
> > Just to add on. I am not sure why people wanted to use Ajax at all.
> >
> > For form validation, it is safer to have it done at server side rather

than
> > client side validation.

>
> In what situations are you recommending the server
> does not *also* do validation?


Hi Andrew,

I think you have gone on to reply the question that you have asked me above


For form validation, I prefer doing it in the serverside because by doing it
in java
(i don't use XML for validation), I can make the overall code less and also
ensures that the web application works regards of the browser that the
client is using.

Right now, I am looking for some worthwhile reasons to use AJAX.

Regards,
James





 
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Chris Smith
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      08-09-2005
James Yong <james1@$1.com> wrote:
> Just to add on. I am not sure why people wanted to use Ajax at all.
>
> For form validation, it is safer to have it done at server side rather than
> client side validation. Because the user may turn off javascript support of
> the browser.
>
> Shouldn't this consideration be taken that it is better not to have Ajax
> because it is dependent on javascript.


Communication between JavaScript and the server (what's being called
AJAX here) is not incredibly useful for form validation.

The opportunities it presents are exactly in the various interactions
that occur outside of form validation, though. Your post was actually
illustrative of exactly how limited web development generally is.
JavaScript talking to the server is exciting to a lot of people
precisely because it opens up a lot of possibilities besides just
validating forms. For example, it might tell you how many results to
expect as you're typing in a query, so that you can narrow things down
appropriately without a "submit and revise" cycle.

Its most important applications so far come from scanning quickly
through large amounts of data that is loaded on demand... the sort of
thing that was previously possible only with applets or other more
isolated client-side code, but without the disadvantages I described in
my earlier post to this thread. Using JavaScript for this stuff in the
past has been either painful or just plain inappropriate, because of the
time required to reload a page.

--
www.designacourse.com
The Easiest Way To Train Anyone... Anywhere.

Chris Smith - Lead Software Developer/Technical Trainer
MindIQ Corporation
 
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