Java Web Start Technology and Application Clients in the GlassFish Application Server

By Tim Quinn and Rick Palkovic, April 2007  
  Download PDF of All 4 Parts

Articles Index

Part 1 - Introduction
Download the Sun Java System Application Server and the Java EE SDK for free.

With the Sun Java System Application Server or its open source counterpart, the GlassFish application server, your end users can download a Java EE application client that you have built, along with any JARs it needs, and run the application client with a single mouse click.

To make this capability available, you do not need to develop your application differently or distribute any files to end-user systems yourself. Launching application clients with Java Web Start software overcomes the distribution problems that have historically impeded widespread use of application clients. The GlassFish application server provides Java Web Start support automatically, providing the feature without any extra effort from you as a developer or administrator.


Application clients in Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) are the standard way developers can give their end users a rich-client experience on the frontend while taking advantage of web services, enterprise Java beans (EJBs), and other enterprise elements in an application server on the backend. Historically, application client technology has been under-used, at least partly because it has been inconvenient and unwieldy to distribute the developer's application client code and other required files to end-user systems and to make it easy for end users to start the application client when all those files are in place.

Beginning with Version 1, the GlassFish open-source application server greatly simplifies this distribution and launching process for administrators and end users alike by using Java Web Start technology to distribute the application client and the required supporting software and to launch the application client. This feature, along with new ease-of-development improvements like annotations for EJB references added to the Java EE 5 specification (and to the GlassFish implementation of that specification), makes application client technology a compelling way for Java EE developers to provide a rich-client experience to end users.

This article is organized into four parts:

  • You are reading Part 1, the introduction.
  • Part 2 provides a brief overview of Java Web Start technology and Java EE application clients, and then explains the unique combination of these technologies in the GlassFish project.
  • Part 3 describes how end users, developers, and administrators can take advantage of the Java Web Start feature of the GlassFish application server.
  • Part 4 explains several security aspects of Java Web Start support in the GlassFish project and some other advanced topics about the feature. It finishes up with a look at the future of the Java Web Start feature of the GlassFish application server.


Part 1 Introduction
Part 2 Java Web Start Technology
JNLP and Java Web Start Technology
Java EE Application Clients
Part 3 GlassFish Application Clients: The Java Web Start Experience
The Developer Experience
The Administrator Experience
The End-User Experience
Using the Client
Java Web Start File Caching
Part 4 Security and Advanced Topics
Advanced Topics
A Look Ahead by Tim Quinn

In Part 2 of this article, you will learn about Java Web Start technology.

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