Monday, November 20, 2006

Integrating Applets With AJAX

For our new SONAR product, as demo'ed in the Enron Explorer, we needed a way of visualising the social network of up to 80,000 people. Our first thought was of course, Flash, but we found that it just wasn't up to the job* of visualising large numbers of nodes. If only there was a way of combining the scalability of a Java applet with a slick, whizz-bang AJAX interface... well, as luck would have it, there is!

There are certain problems you have to get round, particularly related to the issue of the applet showing through anything that you place over it, and the browser reloading the VM if you hide the applet in any way , but these are fairly straightforward to get round once you've figured it out (hint: try moving it off screen!) - m'colleague Jan Berkel blogs about the technique in more detail here.

It would be overstepping the mark to suggest that we invented the technique as speculative articles have been written on this subject before, but the feedback we've been getting from the Enron Explorer shows that a lot of people are taken most of all by the interface, and as far as we know we're the first to use it in a production application.

All we need now for the meme to take hold, of course, is a snappy acronym....

Hmmm..... there HAS to be an amusing acronym we can tease out of this - all suggestions gratefully received!

* OK, I'm fairly sure that, given enough time, we could probably have found a way of getting round the scalability issues associated with doing it in Flash, but as Jan mentions in the article, we had a large amount of pre-written Java code that it would have been a shame to waste, and what you also get with Java is a vast library of free code and APIs out there, plus complete flexibility over how you use them.


Anonymous said...

Im afraid a fresh start is due.. best to go for Java and make use of online resources,,,cool blog!

Anonymous said...

your reference link applet with ajax is no longer availabel.