Java Applets: Good Examples of Bad Design

Java applets are bad.

Repeat the previous sentence 10 times, hopefully out loud in a crowded room of web designers and developers drinking their grande half-soy, half-low-fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread decaf cappuccinos.¬†Applets create confusion for users. Applets are slow to load. Applets are usually frivolous and unnecessary. Don’t use an applet just because you can! Applets are bad. Applets are bad. Applets are bad. Say it another 10 times just to make sure it sticks.

Don’t believe me, some random guy on the Internet? Then listen to these experts:

“One of the ten new mistakes of Web design is using applets where plain or Dynamic HTML would have done the trick.” — Jakob Nielsen (the authority on web design)

“Java applets: They take forever to download and contribute nothing in the way of actual content. Sometimes they offer the added bonus of crashing your browser or providing a mouse hole for malicious content (i.e., viruses).” — Information Today

“Applets are usually inaccessible and sometimes unsupported.” — Microsoft Usability Research Department

“Java applets are bad news, and have always been bad news. They were a hack that awkwardly solved a temporary problem with Web client dynamics, a problem that has since been more elegantly solved by DHTML scripting.” — JavaWorld

“If you can avoid using Java Applets, do so.” — J.P. Thiel (Computer Security Analyst)

“All applets from all sources, whether signed or not, can read and write files in /usr/tmp.” — Attacks from Outside the Operating System, Prentice Hall

“You should consider removing all applets from your websites.” — IBM Accessibility Center

“Avoid using applets.” — University of California, Berkeley

“Applets introduce usability and deployment issues.” — Apple Computer Developer Connection

Developers often use Java applets just because they can, or because they don’t know how to do it any other way. Don’t fall into the uneducated and unprofessional trap of using applets when some well-thought-out DHTML will do. Spread the word.

Applets are bad.

Author’s Note:

This article was spawned by a series of discussions and arguments with a roomful of various-level developers and junior management. Being only one month new to the company and therefore not having had enough time to prove my expertise, my extensive experience was often somewhat disregarded when my recommendations vehemently conflicted with the current path of development.

Almost seven years later, I am still working at the same company, having outlasted all but one of the above-mentioned developers and management. Apparently, I was able to stem the tide — to this day we have avoided any production use of Java applets. What a relief!

Prior to the reorganziation, this was the 400th article on Richard’s Ramblings — an obsolete and meanginless statistic.