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Integrate Windows client-side PC devices in Web App

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Hello all!

We are looking for a solution for integrating client side peripheral devices (like printer, video camera etc) into a Web J2EE application. The clients are MS Windows users running IE browser only. We would prefer using thin client unless other solutions are substantially better (like .NET or Swing/SWT fat clients).

One idea is to use MS ActiveX components to talk to MS Windows drivers and HTML hidden fields to talk to J2EE Web app. Some client side VBScript/JavaScript can glue ActiveX and hidden fields and re-submit web pages. This way no JNI or Java-to-COM bridge are needed.

The concern here is support of MS ActiveX in the future, since they are based on old COM architecture. (We are writing them using VB6.0). We tried to research a little and found people talking only about JNI or Java-to-COM bridges, but nothing about .NET-to-J2EE or even ActiveX + Java Applet solutions.

We wonder what people are using today to integrate local PC devices in Java Web applications?

Any input/ideas/comments are highly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
(instanceof Sidekick)
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You hit all the bases that we cover on our project: JNI and Java-COM bridge. We do JNI from applets to a telephony DLL and to a 3270 emulator. This breaks the zero-deployment promise of thin client as we have to deploy DLLs and security permission files. We tried Dan Adler's JACOB for a Java-COM bridge, but never got it reliable enough for production. I suppose sockets would be one more integration option we haven't tried.
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Recently ,I use JNI communicate with Applet for hiding some critical business logic. However,I am not sure that this solution has any defects. Does any one has any recommendations ? Thank you !

Miller Lai
[ August 14, 2004: Message edited by: Miller Lai ]
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