Welcome!

Machine Learning Authors: Kevin Jackson, Progress Blog, Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White, Dan Blacharski

Related Topics: Machine Learning , Java IoT

Machine Learning : Article

Hangover Thoughts About the Web and AJAX

After five shots of straight vodka, we enjoyed a Broadway-type show, and then more drinks and food

Yesterday, we celebrated the birthday of my employee Alex in a fancy Russian restaurant. If you haven't tried it, go there - once. The party started late, and I've never seen such a variety of food on the table at the same time (they call this setup "bratskaya mogila," which means "mass grave"). After five shots of straight vodka, we enjoyed a Broadway-type show, and then more drinks and food. Anyway, this morning the last thing I wanted to do was drive to my gas station.

Last time I selected a Java Web application framework (http://java.sys-con.com/read/136518.htm) and for a second, I regretted that I hadn't implement a Web application. If I had, I could have opened a Web browser and checked on the business without leaving home. At the moment, I was pretty sure there were only two types of users that could appreciate Web applications:

  • Sober people who want to buy goods or use services offered by companies like Amazon, Ebay, Google, CNN, or Playboy
  • Drunk owners of small businesses
But after a while I thought to myself, "Not just a Web application would let me connect to my business from home." I can create a Java Swing client that will connect, say, to an RMI server. And it won't cost me a penny because RMI comes packaged with Java! Even Open Source application servers may be overkill for a small business. Besides, deploying Java clients on all of my computers can be automatic using Java Web Start (JWS) technology (this will be my answer to the zero-deployment arguments of those who like thin Web clients).

Remotely Delivering Applications with Java Web Start
Let's say I've created a front-end Java application and want to deploy it on all three of my business PCs and two of my home computers. With JWS, I can automatically deploy Java applications (not applets!) that permanently reside on these computers. Every time a user starts the application, it automatically connects to a central server, compares the local and remote versions of the application, and downloads the latest one if needed. It can also automatically download JRE. Java comes with a so-called Java Network Launching Protocol (JNLP) API, and deploying a JWS application consists of:

√ Configuring the Web server so it can support JNLP files. Free Web servers are readily available (see http://httpd.apache.org/)

√ Creating a JNLP file (it's a simple XML file describing your application)

√ Uploading the application to the Web server to a location specified in the JNLP file

√ Creating an HTML Web page that has a link to your application's JNLP file, for example <a href="GasOrder.jnlp"> Start Gas Order Program</a>

You can read more about the Java Web Start technology at http://java.sun.com/products/javawebstart/

I can have a full-featured multi-megabyte Java client that's located and launched locally on each of my computers. If once in a while I need to deploy a new release of this application, I'll just upload the new JAR to the computer that runs my Web server and all client computers will update the local version of the application automatically as soon as they see the newer JAR on the server.

Thin Clients, AJAX, and a Goat
Let me tell you an old Jewish joke.

A poor man comes to the rabbi complaining that his family has only one small room, many kids, and almost no money. The rabbi says, "Take all your money, buy a goat, and keep the goat in your room. Come back in a month."

"But, rabbi, we don't have enough space even for us," the man said

"Just do what I say," the rabbi replied.

A month later the man comes back complaining that the goat smells and breaks everything.

"Sell the goat and come back in a month," the rabbi tells him.

A month later the man comes back to the rabbi with flowers.

"Thank you, rabbi! We're so happy the goat is out, now we have more room and some money!"

So what has that story to do with thin Web clients and AJAX? Everything! Since the early nineties Visual Basic and PowerBuilder programmers have routinely created rich client applications, and if, for example, they need to repopulate a part of the screen by executing some DB query when a user types a character in a text field, they just put this query in some flavor of the ItemChangedEvent of the GUI object.

In Java it's not as simple, but still not too bad. Just register an event listener with a window control, put the db query in one of the methods of this listener, and repopulate the screen using an event-dispatching thread.

Then the Internet rush brought in plain-looking thin HTML clients (aka the goat), which had to refresh the entire page after each request. Several years later, a complex technology called AJAX came about and now people are overwhelmed with joy when they see a portion of the Web page refreshed after typing in a single character. Wow! Isn't it time to get the goat out the room and return to good old fat Java clients? I wonder why sober application architects don't see it this way.

More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay. He wrote a thousand blogs (http://yakovfain.com) and several books about software development. Yakov authored and co-authored such books as "Angular 2 Development with TypeScript", "Java 24-Hour Trainer", and "Enterprise Web Development". His Twitter tag is @yfain

Comments (17) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Web Application Architect 01/19/06 02:51:17 PM EST

Absolutely ! I have created thick client applications as a student and was a whole lot more satisfied than today when I am a professional doing XMLHttpService and thinking so hard to refresh nothing but webpages. And guess what - business says "its no rocket science" !!!.

Don Babcock 01/05/06 10:47:07 AM EST

Actually, there are several good approaches to Java client ubiquity including Java Web Start et al. These days, getting the necessary "run time" on the client required to run Java applications is no more difficult than installing a Flash player or other browser plug in. But Java, player plug-ins and frameworks are just different instances of managed code approaches. As Peter Coffee recently opined in E-Week, managed code approaches seem to be the future in terms of taming the otherwise wild environment differences that have plagued browser based clients from the introduction of the second browser candidate forward.

James Ward 01/04/06 04:54:07 PM EST

The problem with fat client Java is client ubiquity. AJAX has ubiquity. But if you want ubiquity and the power of a real fat client, check out Flex. There's a free Alpha download based on Eclipse at: http://labs.adobe.com

-James

Don Babcock 01/04/06 02:33:33 PM EST

Right ON!

What is even more amazing to me is that sober developers would even think of:

"...and if, for example, they need to repopulate a part of the screen by executing some DB query when a user types a character in a text field....."

Such dynamic updating is often touted by proponents of AJAX but never does anyone consider the server load/overhead of making a query back to the serverside DB for every keystroke event on the client. Talk about bringing the network/server to its knees! Of course the Java app would do the same thing if implemented the same way. But the "fat" client programmer is more likely to make a single query with subsequent local refinement rather than refining on the server side. The Javascript programmer in a browser environment probably won't for a number of reasons.

Aside from all that, it is very amusing indeed for those of us that date back "pre-web" (3270 screens anyone? VT100?) to watch folks that have never known any other terminal user interface than the browser get all excited about being able to do what was standard fare long ago. Your anlogy is so apt! We've been living with the limitations of the browser (another "goat" instance) for so long that when the least thing comes along to aleviate that (AJAX) folks start foaming at the mouth. HTTP itself is another "goat" instance. Look at the number of kludgey things we have to do just to maintain state. Don't get me wrong. It is ideally suited for the purpose T.B. Lee envisioned. We've just pushed it way beyond anything he ever imagined at the outset.

Personally, I'm very excited about products like Netbeans 5.0 which finally deliver a VB-like development experience (in terms of layout ease) and which can easily consume web services via WSDL (it generates all of the Java client code for you.) Writing those services is trivial using Coldfusion components (Java and Apache Axis under the covers) and if you want the freebie version check out BlueDragon by NewAtlanta. Netbeans doing Java "fat" clients coupled with Apache and BlueDragon on Linux with a Postgres or other DB back end and you have a totally low cost and very robust solution.

Vince Marco 01/04/06 01:55:43 PM EST

I've been to one of the russian parties you mention at a restaurant in Brooklyn. And yes, it is really something to experience. But we never mention the cost. It was expensive, which is why you do it once.

That is what our industry has done with browser-based web applications, especially for enterprise development. Why exactly would we build enterprise apps the same way we build consumer-oriented apps? If we were designing an enterprise development/deployment technology would we design the web as it is today (complete with browser fragmentation)? I would hope not!!

But I would tweek your original solution description a bit. I would use web service requests using JAX-RPC instead of RMI. On the one hand perhaps you are right that running an app server isn't needed for your gas station, I would counter that running AXIS on Tomcat is probably going to be not much more hassle than configuring your RMI server and the firewall. And that is where your business' technical requirements will likely grow, so XML and web services do provide value.

I agree on all your other points and would add that the next trend beyond AJAX might be to actually build RCPs (rich client programs) which perhaps embed browsers in them for the web content they need. The ultimate portal framework might actually spread itself across both the browser and server.

Mike 01/04/06 01:53:24 PM EST

I have to disagree with Sean, at least partially. I've seen at least as many PC's with Javascript disabled as I've seen without Java. As far as Costa Gino's comments are concerned, there are some valid points there, if we were going back in time 20 years. Are there no web services? No http/s tunneling? Are we missing javax.net.ssl?

Costa Gino 01/04/06 11:55:27 AM EST

after five shots of vodka I always go to the same conclusion... only a triple espresso shot will bring me back to reality... and coming back to your story I will list some of the reality's issues:
i) your runtime architecture is two-tiers, client server story... and that is it... out of how you deploy it... it runs as two-tier.

ii) a special port into the firewall has to open
today enterprises have firewalls that open and close:
a) Will you open db port right there ???
b) Will you open RMI port ???
With (b) the worse part is that there are ... ports (many)

iii) security/encryption... while SSL is just there
you have to deal with encrypting ora-net or rmi... it is not impossible ... but is not just there

iv) security reloaded
thru web/html you expose pages you see and now... if you expose your binary service to internet (*.*.*.*) how can you make sure someone is not "enjoying" the methods that were not meant to do so.
(unless you saw it with fron-end rmi-actions and back-end rmi ??? hope you didn't go that far)

v) design --
you encourage developers to "power" client-side validations... what is wrong with that... the wrong things will appear as number (iv).

The whole thing will not be really enough for pure internet apps... for intranet yes ... but for intranet you don't really need jnpl and web server ...and xml... you can drop your classes (even jvm) to a network drive... you know that.

And last but not least:
If java fat client is so good ... the next step is to pop up unix/legacy terminals thru a web browser... and then that will be the solution... black/green screens will be "web" ready hmmmm !!!
Is this what you are looking for ?

Yakov Fain 01/04/06 11:33:37 AM EST

Guys, I appreciate your feedback, but please get down to Earth. We are not solving global warming problem here. We are automating a small business, namely my gas station. I do not need to worry about clients with unknown version of JVMs. I know exactly what is installed on my 3-4 client computers.

Sean is talking about thousands of clients... Yes, the chances are that I'll become a CIO of Mobile one day. But even then, I'd better know (and control) what OS and JVMs are installed in MY COMPANY's client's machines.

Stop thinking Google or Amazon. Get real :)

Jim Amsden 01/04/06 10:24:22 AM EST

But its not quite as simple as HTML/AJAX vs. distributed Java fat-client applications. Yes, it is now possible to reduce the cost of ownership of Java client applications through automatic updates. But this gets more complicated when there are a suite of related applications that need to be updated as a group.

But the real problem is that distributed client/server programs have to be designed differently than traditional fat-client applications. Distribution has to be factored into how the user interacts with the program, when fields are refreshed, what data is cached in the client and when, how tolerant the application is to stale data, etc. AJAX makes you think about these things because you can't build an application without it. Java can do it too, but you have to deal with the distribution patterns yourself.

Sean 01/04/06 10:04:32 AM EST

In the real world where you have thousands of clients with all sorts of different setups on their PCs, the browser is the common element you can depend on. Some PCs may have java, some may not; some have the wrong version, and it's not like java is all that portable between versions. No, AJAX avoids the issues of java and plugins, providing a solution you can deliver to the most people.

Mike 01/04/06 09:52:23 AM EST

You know, we are supposed to be able to manipulate the DOM from an applet just like you can from Javascript, its been there in one form or another since JDK 1.3. I say supposed to be because I haven't been able to get it to work right, and the documentation, as usual is lacking. So maybe we all need to start moving some votes on the Java bug tracker?

Christian 01/04/06 07:07:57 AM EST

I'm releaved to see there are people that have the guts to see through the frail hype of AJAX.
In many rich web clients JWS will be the best choice. The richer the client the better.
If you are doing a client for an intra net then there really should be no question about it (there are of course special cases and exceptions, as always...).

Marius 01/02/06 05:03:55 PM EST

The problem with your thought is Microsoft.

As long as most users are using MS Windows, which often hasn't Web start or a recent java version installed, it is easier for users to use a web application.

Installation of web start might even require administrator privileges which the user probably doesn't have.

skyanchor 12/29/05 07:25:24 PM EST

Though it may have been written with a hangover, this is one of the most clear-headed articles I've read in quite a while. I would just add that in the mid-90's Delphi additionally brought custom visual components and visual form inheritance to rich client development.

news desk 12/26/05 11:09:31 AM EST

Yesterday, we celebrated the birthday of my employee Alex in a fancy Russian restaurant. If you haven't tried it, go there - once. The party started late, and I've never seen such a variety of food on the table at the same time (they call this setup 'bratskaya mogila,' which means 'mass grave'). After five shots of straight vodka, we enjoyed a Broadway-type show, and then more drinks and food. Anyway, this morning the last thing I wanted to do was drive to my gas station.

news desk 12/26/05 10:33:53 AM EST

Yesterday, we celebrated the birthday of my employee Alex in a fancy Russian restaurant. If you haven't tried it, go there - once. The party started late, and I've never seen such a variety of food on the table at the same time (they call this setup 'bratskaya mogila,' which means 'mass grave'). After five shots of straight vodka, we enjoyed a Broadway-type show, and then more drinks and food. Anyway, this morning the last thing I wanted to do was drive to my gas station.

JDJ News Desk 12/25/05 10:34:59 PM EST

Yesterday, we celebrated the birthday of my employee Alex in a fancy Russian restaurant. If you haven't tried it, go there - once. The party started late, and I've never seen such a variety of food on the table at the same time (they call this setup 'bratskaya mogila,' which means 'mass grave'). After five shots of straight vodka, we enjoyed a Broadway-type show, and then more drinks and food. Anyway, this morning the last thing I wanted to do was drive to my gas station.

@CloudExpo Stories
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
"We started a Master of Science in business analytics - that's the hot topic. We serve the business community around San Francisco so we educate the working professionals and this is where they all want to be," explained Judy Lee, Associate Professor and Department Chair at Golden Gate University, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to close th...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
You know you need the cloud, but you're hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You're looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you're concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies. What do you do?
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that's no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, explored how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He expla...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve f...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...