I'm developing a Chat Application thats in its final stages. The application is quite large with many features. I'm thinking about whether to distribute my application as an applet that uses the Java Plugin or distribute it as a application w/JNLP with web start. I know that the Java Plugin has a Cache feature which is vital to me since I don't want the applet's startup time to be as slow as the first time the applet is accessed. I'm wondering if anybody can tell me any reason(s) why I should consider Web start over the Java plugin? Any performance differences between the two (Is it true that applets running the browser's sandbox run typically slower than a java application?). Also with web start, I doubt this can be done, but is it possible to create a compact jre jar file (I'm using jre 1.4) that only conatins the jre classes that my application uses so that the user doesn't have to download the whole jre file with web start, but web start will instead download this file.
I believe that webstart is designed to replace applets in all instances. It should do caching for you. The biggest reason to use webstart is that it you can use features of later versions of Java. If you use applets you will probably be limited to Java 1.1 or even 1.0.