Great Story; I'm Still Awake. So What?
So, now it comes down to the question, "What deployment method should I use?" If you followed the previous story, you will undoubtedly notice that there are really three application deployment methods, not just two: dumb terminals, client/server, and the Web. The following sections discuss what you need to know.
Do they still make these? I honestly don't know the answer to that question, but I assume the answer is yes. If not, there are a ton of them out there in the world, and yes there is a use for them. Besides the obvious joy one gets when throwing a dumb terminal off the top of a very large building, they also have uses for software applications.
Oracle Developer still supports building applications for dumb terminals. You need to code the application so that it does not take advantage of GUI elements such as radio buttons, check boxes, and list items. If that does not scare you off from dumb terminal deployment, feel free to use it on the factory floor with simple applications that don't require a lot of user interaction. Remember, however, that most users will complain wildly if given the chance to comment on a dumb terminal deployment.
The client/server deployment of applications should be used only for small workgroups in which the administration is minimized. This method has a performance advantage as well as tighter connections to the database. This deployment method also works best if all of the client machines are of the same OS and GUI. Although you can create your application on Windows and deploy on Unix, there is the potential for problems unless both platforms have been extensively tested. There is also the problem of not being able to run the application on the Macintosh.
Administration of the application can be a potential problem. One of the advantages of the Web deployment method is that the developer can deploy the completed application to a central location. Advances in networking technology now make that possible for client/server as well. Simply create a network mountable drive with a single copy of the application. When the application is updated, it can be copied to the central location and not to the individual PCs. The only administration headache comes from updating the runtime engine for each machine.
The Web deployment method has the advantage of being platform-agnostic and easy to administer. It doesn't matter what platform or GUI the user is on, as long as it supports a browser with the appropriate Java Virtual Machine (JVM). That means you can run it on Mac, Windows, or even a network computer.
The downfall of the Web deployment method is in performance. Java is a great all-purpose language, but still suffers from not being as fast as the client/server runtime version of Oracle Developer. This will change in the future as Java becomes optimized, but for now, it is a consideration that should be seriously taken into account.