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Using the Java Plug-in Converter

The Painless Way to Activate Swing Applets

Spider building a web There are several ways to create and implement JavaTM applets that make use of Swing components, and this article describes the easiest method we´ve run across so far. The article was contributed by Nancy Schorr, a member of the Swing team.

By Nancy Schorr

Coverter screen shotThe easiest way to create an HTML page that enables Java Plug-in is to use the JavaTM Plug-in HTML Converter that´s available for downloading on the Java Plug-in Web site. Here at Sun, we test Java Plug-in in many different configurations, so we have to create many pages that enable Java Plug-in.

After the HTML Converter works its magic, we rarely, if ever, have to edit the pages it generates. In fact, editing the Converter´s work is not recommended unless you're certain you know what you're doing. The technology behind the plug-in (presented in some detail in the "Plugging into Swing" article) is a bit complicated for the novice, so we highly recommend that you use the Converter.

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Downloading the HTML Converter

You can download the Java Plug-in HTML Converter from


You can also reach it from links on the Java Plug-in page:


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The HTML Converter Tutorial

When you have downloaded the HTML Converter, these are the steps to convert a plain applet page to an applet page that enables Java Plug-in:

  1. First, create an ordinary HTML page, complete with all text and pictures that you want your page to contain.
  2. Now forget about the fact that you are going to be using the Converter, and provide your HTML page with any applet tags that you would normally need to make your applet to show up on your page. For instance, here is a set of tags that you could use to enable the SwingSet program (the main example program that comes with Swing) as an applet:

    <head> <title>SwingSet demo</title>
    <h1>SwingSet demo</h1>
    <applet code=SwingSetApplet codebase=classes archive=SwingSet.jar
    width=695 height=525>
    </body> </html>

    Once you have placed a pair of <applet> and </applet> tags on your pages, as shown in the preceding HTML snippet, you´re ready to run your page through the HTML Converter. The Converter will then automatically convert the <applet> and </applet> tags in your HTML page to the kinds of tags that Java Plug-in recognizes.

    When you run the Converter, it will copy your original file to a backup file, and create a new file with the same name that your original file had. That way, you will still have your original file after you run the Converter.

    The next thing you must do, then, is start the Converter. This process differs for Windows users and UNIX users, so we have split the next part of this tutorial into the two subsections that follow.

Starting the HTML Converter under Windows

Here is a simple set of instructions for starting the HTML Converter application under Windows 95/NT/98:

    Because the HTML Converter is a Java application, you must have a copy of the JDK available to your machine -- preferably JDK 1.1.5 or later. You must also make sure that your CLASSPATH and PATH variables are set correctly, as explained in the README.txt file that comes with Swing.

    On a Windows computer system equipped with JDK 1.1.x, it´s easy to create a batch file that sets all necessary system and local variables, and then launches the Converter. Here is such a batch file, named Converter.bat:

    set CONVERTER=E:\HTML_Converter\Convert.jar;
    set JAVA_HOME=D:\jdk1.1.6
    set CLASSPATH=.;%CONVERTER%;%JAVA_HOME%\lib\classes.zip
    set path=%JAVA_HOME%\bin;%path%
    java JAConverter

    If you´re using JDK 1.2 (currently available in a release-candidate version from the Java Software Web site), you do the same thing, except that you omit the CLASSPATH pointer to classes.zip:

    set CONVERTER=E:\HTML_Converter\Convert.jar;
    set JAVA_HOME=D:\jdk1.2
    set path=%JAVA_HOME%\bin;%path%
    java JAConverter

Starting the HTML Converter on Solaris

On Solaris, you can start the Converter using a batch file that looks like this (it must be executed from the  directory in which you have placed the HTML Converter):

    CONVERTER=/home/nancys/HTML_Converter/Convert.jar:/home/nanc ys/HTML_Converter/templates
    export JAVA_HOME
    export CLASSPATH
    ${JAVA_HOME}/bin/java JAConverter

The result

Once you have launched the Converter application, you'll see a display that looks something like this (the one shown was executed under a prerelease version of JDK 1.2):

Converter screen shot 

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Using the HTML Converter

When you have started the HTML Converter, the easiest way to convert files is to perform your conversions one file at a time -- even though the default is to convert all files in a folder. To convert a file using the HTML Converter, these are the steps to follow.

  1. To convert a single file, click the radio button labeled One File, as shown in the preceding screen shot. Then use the Browse button to navigate to the file you want to convert, and select it. When you have selected a file, you´ll see its name displayed in the text field to the right of the One File button.
  2. In the lower part of the Converter window, there is a pair of text boxes labeled Backup Files to Folder and Generate Log File. Notice that by default, the Converter creates a backup folder in the HTML_Converter folder, and creates a Log File in the HTML_Converter folder. Leave these two choices the way they are unless you really need to change them.
  3. Now you´re ready to pick a template. Again, the easiest thing to do is to leave the Template File control at the default setting, which is Standard -- a setting that works for the Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer browsers on Windows and Solaris only. An alternative is to select Extended -- a setting that works for all browsers on all platforms.
  4. Finally, click the Convert button in the bottom right corner of the screen. A progress dialog appears, and then starts reporting the progress of the Converter as it converts your file.
  5. When conversion is complete, close the progress dialog by clicking the Done button. You can then find your converted HTML file in the same location as your original file. Your converted file will also have the same name as your original file. You can find your original file in the backup folder that the Java HTML Converter has created.

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