The Java applet API is a framework that allows Java-enabled Web browsers to manage and display embedded Java applications within WWW documents. However, Java is more than just a tool for building transportable multimedia applications. Java is a powerful, general purpose programming language that just happens to be safe and architecture independent. Standalone Java applications are not subject to the restrictions placed on applets; they can do all activities that software written in a language like C does.
Any software that implements the Java run-time system can run Java applications. Applications written in Java can be large or small, standalone or component-like, as in other languages. Java applets are different from other Java applications only in that they expect to be managed by a larger application. In this book, we will build examples of both applets and standalone Java applications. With the exception of the few things applets can't do, such as access files, all of the tools we examine in this book apply to both applets and standalone Java applications.