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[aprssig] Rant - Cross platform portability

Gregg Wonderly gregg at wonderly.org
Mon Sep 18 14:03:09 UTC 2006

Rich Mulvey wrote:
>   Now, on this I have to disagree, at least when it comes to certain 
> Java applications.  Deploying Java apps to the end-user can be a total 
> PITA.  WebStart systems are one way - but IME a lot of users are so far 
> behind the technology curve that they don't have browsers set up for 
> it.  I've found that even having a web page with direct links to a JRE, 
> and telling them "Download this, run it, and you'll be ready to go" is 
> an exercise best suited for a masochist.  My experience with free 
> cross-platform Java application packager/installers is that they haven't 
> tended to work particularly well, though, admittedly, the last time I 
> surveyed them was about two years ago.

Hi Rich, thanks for jumping in and sharing your perspective.  I tend to just 
build jars, and point people at the JRE to download.  If I can't distribute with 
just these two steps, to get people going, I do something different, like make 
my jar application do some of the installation when launched.  It is possible to 
do things fairly seemlessly.  More and more PCs shipped with windows, are also 
shipped with a JRE.   But, downloading the 1.5 JRE, is still often required.

>   The biggest issue that I've run into is the problem with Sun's 
> abandonment of the javax.comm/serial/parallel port support for Windows.  
> Most of the Amateur Radio apps I've run into need some sort of rig 
> control, and with Sun bailing on comm support for the largest installed 
> base of machines, that becomes a problem.  Yes, there's rxtx and a 
> couple of commercial implementations.  RXTX is pretty good, and has 
> gotten much better over time, but I still run into the occasional 
> problem with it.

I have a copy of the 2.x version of the windows COMM api.  I use it for my 
applications and have tried to maintain a constant push on Sun, through emails, 
to put that entire version back on the web.

>   But that just underscores some of the many development hurdles to 
> cross-platform apps.  With the majority of Windows development systems, 
> you essentially get one-stop shopping for everything from the 
> presentation layer to hardware interfaces.  With Java it's more a case 
> of "Get something from HERE, and then something from THERE, and then 
> something else from OVER THERE - and then we can build a useful tool" - 
> and that's something that many of the people developing open source 
> applications just aren't willing to deal with.

The comm api is a hurdle.  I think that is a smaller hurdle than running VB on a 
linux machine.  I've been using the windows 2.x Sun implementation for years. 
I've used rxtx on linux for years.  I need to spend some time looking at rxtx 
for windows.

Gregg Wonderly

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