Java Web Start is a new standard for distributing Java applications, based on a blend between applet advantages (delivered and automatically updated via the Web) and standalone applications (without any dependencies on a web browser). The documentation, several demonstrations, and implementations for Windows and Solaris users are available for download from http://java.sun.com/products/javawebstart/. Fortunately for Mac OS X users, an implementation of Java Web Start is included in every distribution of Mac OS X (specifically, Java Network Launching Protocol & API (JNLP) Specification, v1.0.1). There’s nothing to configure and nothing to set up—it’s just there, waiting for you to take advantage of it!
As shown in Figure 8-7, users will typically first encounter a Web Start application while browsing the Web. Clicking on a link to a Web Start JNLP file causes the browser to launch a helper application, which in turn downloads the resources for the Java application and then launches it. From that point on, users can launch a Web Start application without launching a web browser. In addition, if the application is properly designed and makes sense, Web Start applications can be launched independently of a network connection.
Figure 8-7. Web Start delivery
Consider, for example, a Tic-Tac-Toe game in which the user plays against the computer or a remote opponent. A user ...