Sun Adds a Little Zip to Java

Update 10 delivers on some long-promised performance improvements.

After a lengthy gestation, the faster version of Java that Sun Microsystems has been promising, is finally here. They company first talked about it prior to the 2007 JavaOne conference as the answer to make its planned JavaFX client side technology feasible.

As it has grown in complexity over the years, Java has grown in size. Today, visiting a Web page that uses Java (not JavaScript) often results in a 20-second delay or more while Java loads.

JavaFX was first introduced in mid-2007 as a rich client technology that would offer an Ajax-like experience but in just a few lines of Java code, rather than having to write all that JavaScript and XML code. It would clearly compete with Ajax and rich Internet application (RIA) technologies like Adobe's AIR and Microsoft's Silverlight.

When Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) introduced JavaFX in a preview release earlier this year, both James Gosling, the creator of Java, and Rich Green, executive vice president of software at Sun, acknowledged that Java as it stood was too bloated and slow to be an effective client-side technology. That would be addressed with "Update N," a new version of Java Standard Edition 6.

Sun posted the release, officially dubbed Java SE 6 Update 10, last night for general availability. It features a more modular kernel for faster loads, a rewritten browser plug-in and new updating technologies.

Rich Internet Appications a main driver

"We changed a lot of runtime deployment attributes and really focused on reinvigorating Java as a platform for consumer content," Danny Coward, chief architect in the client software group told "I think the desire for RIAs is the main driver of this release, and it's also the underpinnings of our JavaFX release." The official, public release of JavaFX is expected by the end of this year.

The improved start time is thanks to a two-pronged fix: the first is Java Quick Starter, an enhanced runtime to speed start time, and the new Java Kernel, which was rewritten to be less monolithic. Instead of having to load the full 13.5 megabyte kernel, just a 4.5 megabyte kernel is loaded, and other pieces are loaded as needed.

The result is startup is down to as low as two seconds, as opposed to an average of eight seconds for load and startup, according to Coward.

Update 10 also includes a completely rewritten Java plug-for browsers that will be much faster, more secure, and will allow consumers to drag and drop applets from a browser onto their desktop; that applet will run just like a locally-installed application. This new plug-in lets applets run in their own processes, so if one crashes, or is malicious, it won't affect the rest of the system.

Sun has also revised the Java Deployment Toolkit so installing Java applets or Java Web Start programs will be much easier, and the Deployment Toolkit will ensure that the appropriate and latest version of the JRE is currently installed.

This article was first published on To read the full article, click here.

Comment and Contribute


(Maximum characters: 1200). You have characters left.