(Via MozillaZine) Firefox 1.5 for Mac OS X will have the Java Embedding Plugin built in to allow the browser to take advantage of the latest version of Java on that platform.
Java applets have had a rough time of it, as technologies go. Hyped beyond all reason when it first emerged, the technology was quashed by Microsoft’s sabotage of Java with the continual re-release of its out-of-date and stagnant Java Virtual Machine (VM).
Today, Java applets are an extremely capable technology. An ideal platform for building many of the rich Internet applications that everyone seems to be talking about, its biggest disadvantage continues to be the limited availability of the current version of the technology in Web browsers.
This is changing, however, with big-name PC builders like Dell and HP shipping their machines with Java preinstalled. Currently, one of the most troublesome holdouts is Firefox on Mac OS X, ironic since Apple is renouned among Java developers for supporting Java by building it into its operating system. Though Mac OS X has Java 1.4.2 built in, with experimental support for Java 5, Apple’s API for 3rd party Web browsers like Firefox is frozen at the now-obsolete Java 1.3.1, forcing applet developers who want full cross-browser support to avoid features offered by newer releases (such as XML support).
The Java Embedding Plugin, an open source project headed by Steven Michaud, came to the rescue by overriding the built-in Java support in browsers like Firefox and taking advantage of the up-to-date Java version in Mac OS X. Until now, end-users had to install the plugin before applets that required Java 1.4 or later would work in Firefox on the Mac.
Now, with Firefox 1.5 set for release in November, Java developers will be one step closer to seamless deployment of applets across all major browsers and platforms.
Full disclusure: SitePoint sells Editize, a product that relies on Java applet technology.