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Introducing Sun Java 6 update 10

Introduction

Don’t be fooled by its unassuming name: the upcoming Java 6 update 10 is a very different animal than the updates that preceded it. Java 6u10 pushes the envelope by adding more new features and functionality than in any previous Java programming language update release, including many that have been a long time coming.

Officially, a “Java update release” is a release in which only the fourth version number (the 10 in 1.6.0_10) changes. Unlike major releases, update releases are not allowed to add, remove, or change any public APIs, and generally this has limited update releases to only containing bug fixes. 6u10 likewise contains no new or changed public APIs — but despite that restriction, we still managed to squeeze in some incredible new features.

Why A Special Update Release?

Once a Java program is up and running, it’s generally smooth sailing. Modern Java Runtime Environments (JREs) are stable, reliable, and fast.

Unfortunately, getting to the “up and running” part has historically been more difficult than it should be. Challenges have included:

  • Difficult to detect JREs, especially from a web browser
  • Difficult to automatically install new JREs
  • Large download size
  • Poor cold start performance
  • Little overlap between applets and Web Start programs

Java 6u10 was created as a response to these challenges. By carefully avoiding public API changes, we can get the fixes into your hands sooner — no need to wait for Java 7!

Java Kernel

The JRE provides many different APIs: Swing, AWT, ImageIO, SQL, CORBA, RMI, math, XML, XSLT, concurrency… too many to name, and each new release adds more. While the variety of APIs makes it easy to write Java software, it’s no coincidence that the JRE has been getting steadily bigger over the years (Java 1.5 was a smaller download due to better compression; the uncompressed JRE was still bigger).

Java Kernel is a new distribution aimed at getting Java software up and running faster. Instead of a full JRE, users download a small installer (the “kernel”) which includes the most commonly needed JRE components. Additional components are downloaded as needed, and the JRE will download remaining components in the background and then reassemble itself.

In the current build, the typical download size for Swing programs and Java applets is on the order of 4-5MB, compared to 14.4MB for the full JRE

Next-Generation Java Plug-In

Java 6u10 includes a brand-new implementation of the Java Plug-in, which is used by default as long as you are using Firefox 3 or Internet Explorer. The next-generation plug-in runs applets outside of the browser in one or more separate processes. Applets still appear inside of the web browser window as they always have, but this means that it is now possible to use different JRE versions, command-line arguments, and configurations to run different applets. The isolation provided by running the web browser and the JRE — two very large, very complex pieces of software — in separate process spaces improves the reliability of both, and gives applets the same flexibility and control over JRE configurations that other Java software has always enjoyed.

Since applets now feature the same powerful JRE selection and configuration that Java Web Start programs do, it was only natural to use the same mechanism for both. The Java Plug-In now supports using Java Network Launching Protocol (JNLP) files to specify applet configuration and startup options. With very little additional work, you can now deploy the same program as both an applet and a Web Start program, and still take advantage of JNLP services such as PersistanceService and FileSaveService.

New Plug-In Advantages:

  • Improved reliability
  • Improved JavaScript communication
  • Per-applet control of JRE command-line arguments
  • Per-applet control of JRE memory settings, larger maximum heaps
  • JNLP support
  • Per-applet JRE version selection
  • Improved Vista support

Source / full article: Sun Developer Network (SDN)

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April 16, 2008 - Posted by | Downloads, Friends, News, Recommended External Security Related Links, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , ,

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