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In our July 1995 feature story "Java: The
inside story," we called upon SunWorld Online readers to
detail their level of addiction to the language that aspires to
transform the Web into the application platform of choice.
Though unscientific, the poll -- which generated nearly 200
responses -- reveals a fair amount of interest in Java applets. More
than two-thirds of the respondents said they're developing Java
applications now or in the near future. "Now that you've introduced (at
least the idea of) Java, I've permanently lost my C++ ambitions," one
Java enthusiast proclaims. Another says he's trying to use Java as a
replacement for C++. Beyond development, nearly half of the respondents
indicated they use the HotJava browser at least occasionally.
How often do you use HotJava (or some other Java-aware Web browser)?
It is my primary web browser: 16.5% ( 31)
Occasionally: 31.4% ( 59)
Rarely: 11.2% ( 21)
Not at all (at least not yet): 36.2% ( 68)
When do you plan to DEVELOP Java applications?
Immediately: 36.2% ( 68)
In the next few months: 33.5% ( 63)
In the next year: 9.6% ( 18)
Not in the forseeable future: 15.4% ( 29)
Number of respondents: 188
Source: SunWorld Online reader survey, July - mid-September, 1995
Sun's Java home page recently hosted a Java applet-writing contest,
spiced-up by the chance to win a SPARCstation Voyager. The winning entries
offer only begin to illustrate Java's potential. Many of our readers
offered comments that shed further light on the types of applications
Java may enable and inspire.
Although some respondents were reluctant to discuss their current
efforts ("Shhhh ... sorry" and "It's a secret!"), others kindly shared
As one respondent noted, a key advantage to developing applets today is
"to get ahead of the learning curve before the technology takes off."
Another reader wrote: "With Java, I can see Web browsers being the
Swiss Army knife of Internet tools." Indeed, Java proponents see it as
a key to enhancing the Internet's level of interactivity with users.
Java projects in the works include:
- An Internet Relay Chat client applet.
- Special effects for interactive surveys and games; live content
integration. (Editor's note: Many readers reported working on
this type of project.)
- Animate logos and create "barker" screens.
- Forms-based data processing applications with "smart fields" to do
client-side business logic processing, including "instant" help and
other information-based feedback. (Editor's note: Another common
- Internet-based live auction system and chat system.
- Interactive children's picture books.
- A prototype system built as part of a research project investigating the
content-based retrieval and manipulation of multimedia. The system
will be based on hypertext and will incorporate facilities for the
structuring, composition and presentation of distributed multimedia
(i.e., MPEG) stored on a continuous media storage server.
- Have internal customers be served not only static (refreshed on a cron)
pages, but also data files and packaged analytical tools. Essentially,
the distribution on the analytics.
- PDA development
- Interface for a spreadsheet.
- A variety of graphical manipulation applets similar to some of the demos such
as the live hookup to the stock ticker.
- Molecular database browsing.
- Simulations of theoretical machines.
- A Java applet that'll let you send files to a server via forms.
- Interactive educational courseware modules.
- An extendable file manager.
- An interactive GIS system that can use more than one database to get
its data, comparing each data set to its ground reference map.
- Compute-intensive programs that can run locally on many cheap PCs
rather than tying up a server.
- WebPlot, an application to submit and monitor plot/print jobs for
Unix, Windows 95, NT, and Mac clients.
- Class library wrapper to Winsock 2.0
- Inter-applet communications such as Tooltalk/OLE-style multicasting
- Interactive Internet Dating service (a la CUSeeMe).
- Database access libraries (Oracle, SQL).
- 3D imagemap-style clickable graphic interface.
- 1. Electronic Design Notebook (EDN) interfaces to existing FORTRAN
design programs in aircraft engines 2. Interactive mission profile for
High Speed Civil Transport.
- Online home shopping.
- X-ray image viewer.
- Interactive physics problems.
- Proof-of-concept interactive database apps. (The reader reports
that current HTML forms are too limited for sophisticated, interactive
- Interactive, Internet-based games.
- Virtual tours.
- A Java lava lamp.
- Loaner request tool for internal use.
- Business MIS tools using Java for enhanced front/back end
communication between remote nodes over an internal corporate WAN.
- A WYSIWYG HTML editor.
- A trouble ticketing system hooked into a database as well as user
- A replacement for CGI scripts. Instead of having my server process
the forms, make the Java applet parse and return the data.
- Database access applications (dynamic based on data requested,
- Browser for choosing and buying fonts.
- Interactive presentations.
- Simulations of biological processes.
- Virtual post office demo, including banking and insurance
We also asked readers to describe what applets they'd request if they
had an ace Java developer at their disposal. Their answers may provide
added inspiration to others. (Entrepreneurs, take note!) Many users
indicated a craving for development tools. Here are some highlights
from the list of proposed dreamware:
- A Java-based global network operating system usable on any gadget
having the interpreter and a connection. ("Who needs workstation
operating systems anymore? The Internet Is The Computer!")
- Interactive, online reports for end-users. ("For example, we charge
users for computer usage. They should be able to see their status at
- Extend the embedded applet component libraries to permit movable,
scrollable, resizable windows.
- Develop tutorials for object-oriented languages like C++. Teach the
concept of objects, classes, and templates.
- An immersive virtual-reality information and merchandising
- Create a better Java runtime environment akin to that of Smalltalk,
with debuggers and object state inspectors.
- Java Doom.
- Interactive multi-player games such as Marathon.
- Security applets for credit card transactions.
- Tourism-based applets for interactive tours of cities, etc.
- A HyperTalk interpreter running native on the Java byte-code
machine, along with widgets mimicking HyperCard widgets. ("That way we
could leverage the existing base of HyperCard applications, making
formerly Macintosh-only tools available to anyone with a web browser
- An online technical library application.
- Internet WWW-based multimedia applications for information
- A WYSIWYG word processor.
- An authoring environment for building Java applications.
- A toolkit for supporting the building of educational modules.
- An x86 Solaris version. ("Sun always makes the x86 Solaris users
- 3-D interactive interface ("A magnitude higher than something
stupid like Microsoft Bob.")
- Java GUI debugger ("We need tools!")
- A port to Linux.
- A Quattro-Pro quality spreadsheet package ("This would include
plotting data as well as sophisticated formula creation.")
- Financial stock market quotes.
- Sports updates. (Editor's note: See http://espnet.sportszone.com/
for a Java-enabled sports information Web page.)
- SQL (Oracle/Sybase/Informix) database front-end applications.
- A Web site to display gif files from a database.
- A DOS emulator.
- A VRML applet.
- A simulation toolkit.
- Database apps with better visualization.
- Something multiuser - integrated MBONE video perhaps.
- A centralized e-mail station, based upon the POBOX.COM idea of one
e-mail address for life. I'd like to add intelligence to routing, etc.,
with active filters and the ability to re-direct filtered messages to a
different account, or a pager or even to a fax machine.
- GUI applet development environment (a la NeXTStep).
- Basic VRML viewing environment.
-- Michael O'Connell
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