Is Java WebStart Deprecated?

Chase Lau chase9 at
Tue Nov 7 16:23:26 UTC 2017

Those are good arguments, Gus. I especially agree with the is 'Write Once, Run Anywhere' sentiment. It seems to me that Java is forgetting the reason it’s so popular: because almost anything from a phone to desktop to IoT device can run the code easily. Taking away some of this ease seems like a bad idea to me.




From: August Nagro <augustnagro at>
Date: Monday, November 6, 2017 at 10:49 PM
To: Chase Lau <chase9 at>
Subject: Fwd: Is Java WebStart Deprecated?



---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: August Nagro <augustnagro at>
Date: Mon, Nov 6, 2017 at 8:52 PM
Subject: Re: Is Java WebStart Deprecated?
To: Michael Nascimento <misterm at>
Cc: Mario Torre <neugens at>, discuss at <discuss at>


> 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 platform


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 executables:

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 Folder
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 contribute.


- 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.

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