What Is Java Used For

What is Java used for? Use a computer long enough, and you'll run into Java either in an application or on the Web. There's a reason that Java is so popular-it can run no matter which operating system you are using.

What is Java Used for on the Web?
While many applications utilize Java, one of the most popular ways in which Java is utilized is on the Web. Web programmers can embed a Java applet within a Web page to run an application in your browser. Applets are Java applications that are embedded in a Web page and run directly in your browser. Java applets are popular for chat functionality, mathematical calculations, viewing 3D images and even playing some online games. While Java applets in some cases are being replaced by Flash and other Web programming tricks, Java is still popular on the Web.

Java on your computer.
Java isn't only for online applications; many developers also write applications in Java to run locally on your computer. The Java runtime environment creates a virtual machine on which applications can run. Within the virtual machine, all the parameters are the same, regardless of whether you're running a Windows, Mac or Linux computer. The value of writing for the Java runtime environment is that developers only have to write one version of an application that runs in Java; they don't have to worry about what the end user is ultimately running on the destination machine.

You must install and enable Java to use it.
If you visit a Web site that has a Java applet, the applet works only if you have the Java runtime environment (JRE) installed and enabled. If you don't have the most updated JRE, or if it's disabled, you can't use Java applets or applications. To check for and install the most recent version of the JRE, visit http://www.java.com and follow the prompts to download Java or check your version.

Consult your Web browser's documentation for how to enable Java within your browser. When you install updates, Windows doesn't automatically delete the old Java version; you have to do that manually from the Add/Remove Software menu.

What's the difference between Java and JavaScript?
Java is an Object Oriented Programming language, or OOP, developed by Sun Microsystems. JavaScript is also an OOP, but Netscape is the mastermind behind it. While Java and JavaScript share similarities, they're more like distant cousins than siblings. JavaScript contains fewer commands and is easier to learn, but isn't as powerful as Java. Additionally, JavaScript only works within Web browsers, while programmers can create standalone programs for Java that have nothing to do with a Web browser.

Who should use which programming language?
Generally, the average tinkerer or self-taught Web programmer uses JavaScript, if anything. JavaScript is quite versatile, and enables you to isolate elements and change them on the fly, unlike Java. However, Java is a more powerful programming language and is well-suited for applications both within and without a Web browser. Your needs and abilities dictate which programming language you should use, but, for average HTML applications, JavaScript is a more flexible and more forgiving programming language.

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