Is Java WebStart Deprecated?

August Nagro augustnagro at
Tue Nov 7 02:52:51 UTC 2017

> If you target one specific OS in your company

Even if this was always the case, why limit yourself? Java's motto is
'Write Once, Run Anywhere', after all.

> I think we should have separated deployment strategies from the java

If we really want separated deployment strategies we should deprecate the
JAR format as well, since WebStart is in many ways its extension

Consider the difficulties of distributing client applications as standalone

   - Need to build N times, and have the hardware to do so.
   - Have to codesign and deploy each executable separately.
   - Updating the application means more engineering.
   - How does one launch with custom context from a browser?
   - Custom loading screens?
   - Shortcut installations?

WebStart and JNLP solve all these problems in ~30 lines of xml.

While the companies behind MineCraft and Intellij IDEA can afford the extra
effort of OS-specific deployments, most individuals (and even medium sized
teams) don't have the resources. For example, my high school calculus
teacher wrote a beautiful integration-modeling Applet with Swing, which was
eventually migrated to WebStart. I seriously doubt the tool would exist if
it required OS-specific bundling. Instead the class would be sharing
unversioned JAR files.

This doesn't even take into account the valid use cases others have shared.
And WebStart seems to be a popular deployment mechanism, considering it's
mentioned on /r/Java every week.

There are of course drawbacks to WebStart, such as:

   - Scattered documentation
   - Some platform-specific bugs
      - Mac shortcuts not integrated with Spotlight search or Applications
      - Permissions dialogue is pretty ugly on Mac
   - Only really works on Oracle distribution
   - Startup time can be slow
   - Requires full JRE Installed
   - Security model is a pain
      - Why is code signing required even for applications that use even
      the most sandboxed setting?
   - Big maintenance burden on Oracle

But with all the negatives considered, WebStart still has too much
potential to deprecate and throw away. If the technology was brought to
OpenJDK (like JMC and the other proprietary features) I suspect people will

- August

On Mon, Nov 6, 2017 at 9:43 AM Michael Nascimento <misterm at> wrote:

> On Mon, Nov 6, 2017 at 1:00 PM, Mario Torre <neugens at> wrote:
> > Each distributions have their own app store already, in fact they had
> > before App Store was even coined as a word. If you target one specific
> > OS in your company is pretty easy to create, for example, an rpm and
> > have a global configured repository that can be managed like any other
> > across your organisation, and doesn't have to be accessible
> > externally, it's very well suited for secure deployments of software.
> Except that for many enterprises, including a customer I worked for 7
> years, you had to support pretty much any OS. Only 150 out of 300
> "core" users (that had standard hardware/OS, the rest was BYOL over
> the VPN.
> > Also, while I didn't follow the whole discussion about its proposal, I
> > believe the future jpackager API will make it easier to create
> > distribution specific packages for a variety of targets. Flatpacks and
> > similar methods are also gaining leverage. I think we should have
> > separated deployment strategies from the java platform many years ago,
> > it's good we're doing that now at last.
> Updating with a differential download is a pretty neat feature of JWS.
> We had users at the Amazon forest area (yeah, this is enterprise
> software, they were independent sales representatives) and having a 20
> MB application requiring just a 30-400kb upgrade at most was (and
> still is) a crucial reason for embracing JWS.
> Regards,
> Michael <div id="DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2"><br />
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