NOVEMBER 26, 2002
Quick Tip: Netscape 7, OS X and Java
How to make them get along
by David Nagel

I know this tutorial is a bit tangential to the usual fare we offer in this publication, and I know it won't apply to a whole lot of you. However, this fix for the Java problem with Netscape and Mac OS X has been such a boon to me that I just have to share it, even if it only helps a handful of you out there.

Despite the implementation of Java 2 on Mac OS X, Web browser support for Java applets--especially passing data between JavaScripts and Java applets in separate browser windows--has been just terrible. Forget about Microsoft Internet Explorer. I'm not even going to try to provide a fix for that because it's just a lost cause. Microsoft will never bring their Mac browser up to parity with its Windows counterpart. [an error occurred while processing this directive] However, with Netscape, there's hope. First, a little background.

Every single day for the last couple of years, I've had to boot Classic on top of Mac OS X. This way, I could access the publishing application we use to input and post articles on our sites here at DMN. Without Classic, I wouldn't have been able to post articles at all. Why? Our publishing system is a client-side Java applet that communicates in multiple browser windows with JavaScripts. (This is a problem similar to ones you might encounter trying to access consumer-oriented, Java-based games, such as those found at Yahoo Games.)

With the release of Netscape 6 for Mac OS X and the MRJPluginCarbon 1.0 Java plugin for Mac OS X, this problem was partially fixed, though with Netscape 6, stability was a major issue. And so it really wasn't workable. (For those who don't know, MRJPluginCarbon is a plugin required to run Java in Netscape and Mozilla. And merely installing it on your system also improves Java performance in Internet Explorer and provides Java support for other browsers, such as Opera.)

With the release of Netscape 7.0, two positive things happened: First, Netscape started looking like a viable browser again; and second, it gained a tremendous amount of stability when running Java applets. However, it also lost the ability to pass data between JavaScripts and Java applets in different browser windows. So I was back where I started.

Then Patrick Beard, the lead developer of the MRJPluginCarbon software, updated that plugin to version 1.0.1 to provide compatibility with Mac OS X 10.2 and later. My hopes were raised, but for some reason, I still couldn't get Java applets to function fully, and I couldn't get JavaScripts to communicate with applets at all.

But then I found out why, and I figured out how to fix it.

Unlike Netscape 6, Netscape 7 includes the MRJPluginCarbon inside the Netscape package itself, rather than accessing it through the Internet Plugins folder in the Mac OS X Library. However, the version included with Netscape 7 for Mac OS X is still version 1.0. Hence, flaky compatibility for Mac OS X 10.2. So what's the fix? Replace the old plugin with the new inside the Netscape package. Here's how you do it.

First, go to and download the latest MRJPluginCarbon. As of this writing, that's version 1.0.1. It's in a Stuffit archive and should decompress automatically once it's finished downloading. If not, double-click the icon to expand it into a folder containing three items. The item we're concerned with is the folder-looking thing labeled "MRJPluginCarbon."

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