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Thursday, 17 December 2009

Firefox IE8 Chrome Opera Safari - best browser for Java?

Initially, I was not going to write up about browsers until I had to download all the known web browsers to test a project front-end. I already had Firefox, IE8 and Chrome installed therefore all I had to do was to download and install Opera and Safari. There might be other browsers outthere but this what I am working with for the moment. So what's the problem? You might ask. Well, I decided to see how simple it would be for a normal user without much computer experience to view a Java-enabled application embedded in a web app or simple HTML page.

Before I go on about what I think, first let me give you an idea of the PC I am currently using:
  • Dell PC with a dual 22" screen (customised version of Inspiron 530)
  • 4Gb of RAM
  • Intel Pentium Dual 1.80GHz (looking to upgrade this after xmas)
  • Windows Vista Ultimate (how rubbish is that?)
  • Java RE version 1.6.0_17
  • and a few other hardware and software.
So as you can see, my personal PC is quite simple in settings. Ok, for some reasons, I decided to launch all the browsers at once and load the JavaFx homepage (http://www.javafx.com) and all I wanted to do was to compare which one loaded the fastest. Here are my findings, in brief:

Firefox
This is probably the best browser outthere but lately it has been crashing on me. And btw, it does not cope well with Google Wave. Anyway, here is what Firefox gave (see screenshot):


As you can see on the above screenshot, the JavaFx homepage loads in its entirety. To be quite honest, the page was loaded without any fuss but bear in mind, I already had Java installed. The "Demos & Samples" box in blue requires Java to be installed as it a JavaFx applet. As I already have the JRE installed, the browser did not ask me for any plug-ins ( I could be wrong feel free to share your experience).

Internet Explorer 8


I am not a great fan of IE in general, but for this simple test; IE8 loaded the page faster than Firefox. Also, it did not ask me to install a specific plugin in order to load the JavaFx portion of the page. IE handles Google Wave much better than Firefox, so this is the browser I use to interact on the Wave.

Google Chrome


Google Chrome, like Firefox and IE, did not cause any problem and it was the fastest at loading the JavaFx page including the Java applet. So far, it is the best performing browser but it is not my personal choice so I rarely use it. Also, I like the fact that Chrome scales the page to fit nicely in its window.

Opera


As you can see in the above screenshot, it seems as if the applet was not fully loaded. Indeed, Opera has loaded some portions of the JavaFx applet but I do not know what is happening here now. This page has been the same since I loaded the browser until now. Again, Opera did not ask me for any plugins to be installed nor did it ask for anything else. I suppose this is not an issue from Sun ;) but something that the Opera team should look at. I know Opera can find the JRE on my system (see screenshot below) but it seems not to be a big fan of Java. In the screenshot below, you can see the JavaFx splash screen but this is all you will see and nothing else. Off-subject, I really like the user interface and I might start using it for a bit longer just to see if it can convert me.


Safari


Ha! what the hell happened here. I have my JRE installed, the previous four browsers did not ask me to install Java (again!!!). The demo applet did not even load, this is Safari running on Windows machine not Mac. So I did what it has asked me for the thousandth time. I clicked on the provided link, takes me to the Java RE download page and I did all the required and look!!!!


Java!!!!! This is the confirmation that I already have the software installed so what's the big idea? The Apple team are not doing a good job to support Java but I can browse to Youtube and watch video without installing Flash player (it recognises that it's already installed). Well I do not think I will be using this browser again anytime soon.

Final words
When it comes to browser to support, you have to test your application on multiple browser ( and OS platform too) to make sure it will not affect the expected user experience that we are so accustomed to.

I do not know why Opera and Safari have issues with the JavaFx site, it could be anything from the site designers to the respective browsers' team. I believe that Java is probably the best Cloud computing platform currently outthere (when it comes to high performance applications) and that browser providers should make sure that at least they do support the platform.

I have a question:

Who should be to blame if Java or any other plugins such Flash is not supported in the browser? The plug-ins developer or the browser developer?

I believe the plug-ins developer should be to blame as they can be a million plug-ins on the net and you cannot possibly cater for all of them. But on the other hand, as in Java 's case, the plug-in is supported without any major issues by the top 3 which accounts for 93.9% percent of the market (based on November 2009), should you as the plugin developer care? I say yes at least for the Mac users' sake. We can overlook opera for now but I am sure that all the Apple fans still use Safari as their prefered browser. Do not try to leave them out, they brought us the iPhone.

Anyway, based on my simple test, I think the best browser for Java applet is (in order of best performance):
  1. Google Chrome
  2. Internet Explorer (make sure you do support this browser as a priority)
  3. Mozilla Firefox (this should also be supported right after IE)
The other two browsers are not included as they did not even successfully launch the applet. I am not saying that you guys are going to have the exact same issue as me and therefore looking forward to your comments.





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Item Reviewed: Firefox IE8 Chrome Opera Safari - best browser for Java? Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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