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One possible solution has been presented by a programmer friend; rebuild the utility using JAVA. So the question is, do we mind waiting for JAVA machines to load? Is it a big deal for dial-up users? Other comments about using JAVA? Thanks.
I'm sure there are many out there who will champion the use of java, but for me I will be happy if I never see a java applet ever again. It's my least favourite web technology aside from Adobe's PDF-based browser hijacking ;)
Checking for a newer version of the pictures every time, should just result in a short 304 not changed response, without sending the picture, which should not cause bandwidth or cpu load problems. Perhaps increase the number of sessions the webserver can handle? Sounds like the cheapest, and appropriate solution.
I've done all I can. I've implemented appropriate image expiry settings. Browser preferences override this. And my hosting company is not about to change their settings for one account since they use a very liberal threshold as it is.
My interest is in the general acceptance of JAVA by Joe User, not webmaster's war stories because they couldn't figure it out. Please stay on topic. Thanks.
My interest is in the general acceptance of JAVA by Joe User
Most "Joe Users" back out of a page with a java applet - they are incredibly slow to load and synonymous with late-90s personal home pages. You'll probably get up to a third of your visitors who will leave because of an applet (I'm not kidding). But the problem is bigger than that - the dispute between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems over Java means that Windows XP was shipped with an ancient JVM, and users have to visit sun.com if they want something more up-to-date (which they seldom do). Don't quote me on this, but I think that some XP installations come with no JVM at all. The speed problem is related to this old JVM, and you may encounter difficulties making a complex applet work with old (MS) and new (Sun) JVMs. Also, higher security settings in IE6 block applets, whereas JS is more tolerated. This is without going into the accessibility problems that applets cause. Seriously, you don't want to go down this path.
Can you do something with Flash instead?
The second problem is that users would need to download the plugin when they visit your website for the 1st time. This is what people mean by "Java is slow". Once the plugin is downloaded, Java executes pretty fast.
The only scenario where I think Java is appropriate, is in big intranet applications runnning in a heterogenous environment where you control the plugin deployment and versioning.
Having never used java as a webmaster I can only comment as a user. As for figuring it out, I figured it out just fine, its just when I visit pages like BBC news with a java plugin installed and enabled, the page takes an extra 5 seconds to load while the JVM fired up (for their news ticker!). This is why I said I installed and uninstalled it so frequently.
Which also seemed to be right in line with the topic title ;)
However, if you were looking for stats rather than opinions, I did come across some from thecounter.com for May last year:
Java enabled - 32260380 -84%
Java disabled - 303888 -0%
Java unknown - 5549313 -14%
Unfortunately, java can be difficult to detect accurately, although I would assume that a large proportion of the unknowns do not have java enabled.
Counter.com stats for Feb 12 2004:
Java enabled: 143371596 (94%)
Java disabled: 1732121 (1%)
Java unknown: 7204118 (4%)
However after review, I do feel that JAVA takes too long to load - even for me with a lightning-fast connection and the latest hardware. Thanks.
It makes your site 'look bad' to Mr Joe Public if they have this Firewall installed.
It's a security concern, plus it is so sloooowwww, that as stated above, most people won't wait. Mr Joe Public clicks and if nothing is happening for a few seconds, they start to ask themselves "what have I done, why isn't this working, should I restart the machine? maybe I need to reinstall windows?" And yes, reinstalling windows seems like a common attitude amongst Joe Public when things start to go slow: "the disk must be too full, so I'll reinstall windows".....and by this point they are trying other sites which work fine. Then they think it's your site that is the problem and won't come back.
Almost regardless of it's use, Java is bad web design. There are a few exceptions when it may be needed, but it general there is an alternative. In your case I can't think of another alternative for using hundreds of (the same) graphics. But users may not like it.
Just to clarify however, this argument applies only to Java applets. Where Java really shines is when it is used on the server side in the form of servlets and JSP (and EJB too, if you're talking about an enterprise application). Unfortunately, many people just think of applets and make the connection that all Java is bad. Not true.
Server-side Java is good.
Client-side Java is bad in 99.9% of cases.