Java Rant!!
... or "why doesn't anything happen when I push the button?"

Click for Compatibility Table
"Java: cross platform"

  -- boy, did I fall for that one. My intent here was to deliver a product that could be run on all sorts of different platforms, so that people wouldn't have to be tied to a specific type of computer, or have to install proprietary software. Unfortunately for the javalab, that was a bit of a naive hope.

As I see it, our main problem is the fact that the applets depend on how well browser-based Java is implemented by the browser companies on different platforms. Internet Explorer on Windows NT? IE on Windows 95? Netscape on Linux? under OSF? on a Mac? Mozilla? Opera? All execute at different speeds, and exhibit a variety of behaviors. One applet that runs beautifully under Netscape on my Alpha doesn't update graphics on Windows NT machines, and flat-out won't run on a Mac. Who knows? And don't EVEN get me started about one-button mouses versus three-button mouses...

So here's the policy. We try to make things work right on Windows platforms, since that's probably what most of you are using. We also try to make it work under a variety of Linux/UNIX machines, because, frankly, I like them the best. I have less Mac support than the others, but we try. Sometimes we simply don't have the time to fight all those java/browser issues -- apologies in advance.

And as far as speed goes (because in these calculations you often want to maximize your computing speed), it really seems to be variable, depending on which applet is running in which browser on what machine. It seems, though, that if you really want to blaze, run these things on a fast Windows-based PC. This is particularly important to all my colleagues who (like me) live in the UNIX world.

Hopefully standardization will come with time (and I hope it's not because Wintel takes over the world). Until then, we just have to deal with it.