Choosing a Gradle Java Webstart/JNLP Plugin

While developing a JavaFX application distributed with Webstart, I had to choose a Gradle plugin in order to package the application. Unfortunately, Gradle does not support Webstart out of the box. After experiencing several available plugins, I decided for the gradle-jnlp-plugin from Tobias Schulte, hosted at Github.

His gradle-jnlp-plugin creates a webstart distribution for a JavaSE application as required by the webstart specification. It creates the jnlp file and compresses/signs the jar files. The directory created by the plugin may then be uploaded to your static web server or embedded into your war file.

I discovered that the gradle-jnlp-plugin is stable and functional. While simple, it supports nearly the complete webstart specification. The default configuration revealed itself reasonable for most requirements. And the maintainer has been reacting to recent issues. That gave me confidence that the plugin won’t become abandoned as happened to many other similar plugins.

Signing jnlp is not supported. Fortunately, this is rarely required on recent webstart specification. And there is no support for war distribution containing the jnlp servlet. I suppose that the maintainer does not recommend this approach, since the recent webstart specification made it simpler to launch the application without the jnlp servlet.

Unfortunately, besides some examples, there is nearly no documentation. Having a good understanding about the webstart specification and after reading the plugin’s source code, I discovered that the gradle-jnlp-plugin is quite intuitive. Therefore, I decided to write another post to help other people which are new to gradle or webstart.

On the whole, I am grateful to Tobias Shulte for spending his time making this useful plugin freely available to the community. I was relevant help while developing my JavaFX webstart application.

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