Oracle puts Java Browser Plug-in on Death Row

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The Java Web browser plug-in just got its death notice. Oracle announced it's deprecating the browser plug-in this fall with the release of JDK 9, and removing it completely in a later release.

Oracle ending support for Java browser plug-inOracle ending support for Java browser plug-in

Oracle said browser developers moving away from supporting NPAPI plug-ins was behind the move. Site designers have been moving away from plug-ins such as Java, Silverlight, and Flash because mobile devices don't support them, and those design changes have been carrying over to the standard versions of sites, too.

Oracle said on its blog,

With modern browser vendors working to restrict and reduce plugin support in their products, developers of applications that rely on the Java browser plugin need to consider alternative options such as migrating from Java Applets (which rely on a browser plugin) to the plugin-free Java Web Start technology.

NPAPI, or Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface, was released in 1995 for Netscape Navigator 2.0 as a way to extend the browser's capabilities through plug-ins. It was later adopted by other browser makers, but now is being phased out in favor of content that doesn't require special plug-ins.

Java is considered a major security vulnerability and if you don't need it on your Mac, considering disabling or removing it. Apple has blocked Java plug-ins from running in Safari over security concerns more than once.

Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla are all at various stages of phasing out NPAPI plug-in support, so it's only a matter of time before the relatively few number of people who do need Java (which is different from Javascript) in their browser will be out of luck. Ending NPAPI support in browsers also means Flash and Silverlight are on borrowed time, too, and the sites that rely on them to display content need to move to newer options that don't require plug-ins like CSS 3 and HTML 5.

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Odds are Oracle's announcement is drawing more "There's a Java plug-in?" comments than "Oh no! I'm screwed!" comments. Good on Oracle for giving everyone an heads up now on their Java browser plug-in plans.

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Hmm, I do have a section of my website with Java apps that I wrote in high school where some of them can be played in the browser directly. I wonder if I should bother updating that ... but I don’t think so. Who goes to those pages anyway?

Its kinda sad that Java is considered a security vulnerability, because one of the original goals of the Java plug-in was to make a sandbox in the browser where applets could be securely contained thus allowing remote code to execute without worrying about it touching your computer’s files like you would have to if you ran an arbitrary binary executable.

I basically got my start in programming by writing Java games, so that’s another reason to be sad whenever it takes a step towards decline. I rarely use Java anymore though. (Obj-C, C#, Swift, Ruby, JavaScript are the ones I commonly work in.)

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