By Shane Cooper
Java's original development team gave their project the code name "Oak." Later, speculation suggested that the name JAVA is a derivative of the founders' first names, James Gosling, Arthur Van Hoff and Andy Bechtolsheim. Originally, the plan was for a lightweight web browser, HotJava, introduced in 1995, but later became a programming language for multiple uses, according to the official Java website and the book "Beyond the Basics," published by the Virginia Tech Computer Science Labs.
However, the compactness and lightweight cross platform technologies of Java have expanded the original use and intent of Java.
Applications are programs with complex user interfaces, database connections, network access and specific platform dependencies. Applets, or more specifically, Java applets are mini applications that are more simplistic in use yet complex in nature, and like applications require code to be compiled in a specific manner.
Applets can run as standalone programs. As mini applications, Java applets run completely independently from a web page, but are typically called inside of a web page for specific functionality.
Writing Java applets is more complex, usually requiring a programmer to learn a full language to make the mini applications function properly. Java applets must be precompiled or compiled on the fly, depending on the developer's intentions. Either way, Java applets have to be compiled or translated from text into something the user can use and interact with.
Depending on the needs of a given website, both technologies can perform specific functions.
You can determine best which technology to use based upon a site's overall need requirement to be effective.
Java applets take much more programming skill, time and design, usually requiring a master programmer to be involved.
Writing since 2005, Shane Cooper has been involved in the IT service field as a systems administrator, architect, director and consultant. His work appears on eHow and Answerbag, where he specializes in software, servers, networks, virtualization, Macintosh and Microsoft subjects. Cooper is a Microsoft Certified Engineer and a VMware Certified Engineer.