1 Software that can be added to a browser in order to view or execute some Web content that it is currently not able to access. For example, in the early days of the programming language Java, the browsers that were available were initially incapable of executing Java applets. However, both Netscape and Microsoft produced plug-ins which executed applets very soon after the first release of the Java system. Plug-in software can be categorized into five areas: 3D and animation, business and utilities, presentations, audio and video, and image viewing. A typical 3D and animation plug-in enables a browser to play animations, such as those produced by Shockwave software from Macromedia. A typical business plug-in might allow the browser to access up-to-the-minute news, weather, and financial information. A typical plug-in might enable multimedia presentations to be displayed on a browser. A typical audio/video plug-in might allow the user of a browser to listen to RealAudio broadcasts. A typical image viewer plug-in might enable a browser to display images in a new or unusual format. The process of adding a plug-in to a browser is a very simple process once the plug-in has been downloaded.
2 The term is also sometimes used in connection with non-browser software: for example, a database management information system may have a plug-in which enables it to handle object-oriented data.
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