Applets can be a pain, but I think you should consider a full blown Java 
Swing client application. You may be confusing the term applet and 
application. I'm not sure, but from the way you are writing it seems like 
you are really considering an application, not an applet. Applets are 
still launched within a browser, and thus have many restrictions, and are 
difficult to deploy due to particular browser limitations. A Java 
application can be as simple as one executable jar file under Windows. 
Plus you have a vastly richer API set that beats almost everything else 
out there for its breadth and variety. Even .Net doesn't have everything 
that Swing and it's associated packages contain (2D & 3D graphics, several 
security models, a wide variety of data access packages, and many UI 
designers).

Java Swing vs. SWT: I'm going to duck the hail of angry mail here, but I'm 
NOT trying to start a flame war. At this point in time, with the new Java 
5 running as your client, Swing is going to work better than SWT. A year 
ago they were neck and neck, but Sun has pulled ahead quite a bit. Swing 
now offers a much improved Windows XP skin for Java apps. Under Java 5 (or 
Java SDK 1.5), which will be in production in a few weeks, Swing apps are 
now much faster than they used to be. Also, Swing has many more control 
components available to work with. But the biggest thing for me is that 
with SWT you have to manage memory, just like in C/C++. So with SWT you 
loose all of the advances in garbage collection that have made it into 
Java over the past few years. This used to be a time consuming process, 
but Sun has cleaned GC up considerably. The default GC algorithm works 
great for most applications.

So in short, don't be afraid to try a Java based Swing application client. 
It will free you from all of the browser nastiness, and there is great 
iSeries support from IBM. We are currently shipping a product which uses a 
Java client that works with several iSeries hosts, and found development 
to be at least as fast as the browser and J2EE approach.  Additionally, 
you can now use a Swing client application with your J2EE server by using 
Sun's J2EE client interface API.

Also, if you are looking for a development environment, Eclipse is OK, but 
JetBrain's IntelliJ IDE is the superior product. It also has a very nice 
UI layout system that will help a lot.

_________________________________________________________________
Jeff Furgal / MIMIX User Interface Product Architect / Lakeview Technology

furgalj@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx / 630-282-8360

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