Java applets are a useful tool that enhance websites for users. Following below is brief explanation of applet and more about their uses and intricacies.
What is Java applet?
Written in Java, a Java applet is a small application that can be downloaded from the internet and run. The browser must have Java Technology enabled in order for the download and run to be successful. These applets are usually embedded into a website and are run within the confines of that website. The applet can appear in multiple places including a frame of the web browser page, a new browser window, a standalone applet testing tool, and applet viewers. They are very fast and can be executed across different platforms thanks to the fact that they byte code is platform independent.
Advantage of applet
There are many advantages of applets with one of the biggest advantages being the fact that they are supported by most web browsers. Additionally, the same applet can successfully run on all installed versions of Java at the same time. There is no need for the latest plug-in to be installed for an applet to work.
Applets tend to run quickly because many websites cache them. This allows the applet to load quickly when the user returns to the web page the applet is located on. Applets also help make web solutions scalable thanks to the ease at which they moved from server to client.
Disadvantages of applet
A big disadvantage of applets is that they do require the Java plugin to work. This means that some browsers, Apple’s Safari being the most famous, do not run applets as all due to the fact that Safari does not have the Java plugin.
If the computer system requires administrator permissions to run the applet, something most common in workplace or school environments, the user tends to not bother requesting that the administrator give the system permissions to run the applet unless it is vitally important.
There are a variety of different types of applets including signed, unsigned and self-signed. A Signed applet contains the signature of the applet creator and a third-party verifying the applets security. In theory, this signature is validated through the web browser being used and once verified, the applet can get more permissions. The idea is that because the applet is signed, any damaged caused by the applet can be traced back to the creator requiring them to take responsibility for it.
What is Unsigned applet?
Unsigned applets are not signed by the creator. This means they have significantly more restrictions such as not being allowed to access local files, the firewall, web access that limits the applet to its own download site, and more. Many of the security concerns with unsigned Java applets have been addressed but there are still some security risks associated with them including malware and viruses.
What is Self-signed applet?
A self-signed applet is signed by the actual developer of the applet. These can pose a security risk and Java typically alerts users to the associated risks prior to allowing the applet to run. Even then, the self-signed applet is only run after user permission is granted. Many self-signed applets are just used for development purposes as many developers will request that a third-party approve the applet as safe.