A new Java version of long-term support is imminent. As Java crosses the 25-year mark, let’s take a step back and take a look at some of the reasons Java remains the best programming language for modern software development.
1. Java is easy to learn
Java also has a very rigid and predictable set of rules that govern the structure of code. This is in stark contrast to other untyped scripting languages where it seems like everything is going on. When trying to master a new programming language, a clear set of consistently applied rules makes it easier to learn.
Additionally, when things don’t make sense, programmers new to Java can find a strong support network of YouTube videos, websites like StackOverflow, and online forums like CodeRanch to find answers to a multitude of questions. .
2. The rich set of Java APIs
The Java API is extended. The standard JDK comes with over 200 built-in packages containing Java APIs that enable everything from XML parsing to translation between time zones. When developers add the Jakarta EE APIs, they have an even more comprehensive API library that enables the development of complex mid-level applications and cloud-native microservices.
But the rich ecosystem of Java APIs extends far beyond those sanctioned by Oracle or provisioned through Jakarta.
For data persistence, there is the JBoss Hibernate project. For the development of cloud native microservices in Java, there is the full suite of Spring Boot APIs. And of course, there are a host of open source Apache API projects that address a wide range of software development use cases, from aggregating error messages with log4j to solving complicated issues with HashMaps. and fail-safe iterators via the Apache Commons Collections API.
The rich set of Java APIs available to developers help in the development of robust and error-free applications.
3. The Java Tool Ecosystem
The application development landscape is filled with software development tools written in Java – by Java developers – that are designed to simplify and streamline the development, deployment, and even decommissioning of Java applications. Here are some examples of tools written in Java:
- Gradle: an incredibly powerful open source building tool
- Maven: an open source tool designed to solve dependency management issues
- Jenkins: a Java-based Continuous Delivery and Integration Tool
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the Java tool ecosystem. Other examples of tools and technologies written in Java include application servers like Tomcat to Red Hat’s popular native Kubernetes Java stack called Quarkus.
Few other programming languages have the same level of tool support as Java, helping to establish itself as the best programming language.
4. Top-notch Android support
Android is the world’s most popular mobile phone operating system, and Java is the de facto programming language for developing Android applications.
While the Android version of Java isn’t exactly the same as what you’ll find on the JDK, Google copied over 11,500 lines of code from Java Standard Edition when they built their Java clone. As a result, developers can expect the version of Java they see on Android to be quite close to the original.
If you know how to write Java code for desktop or server-side applications, you will learn Android development very quickly. The low-level differences between the JVM and the Dalvik Android Runtime will all be nicely summed up after a short learning curve. When developers learn Java, the entire Android ecosystem will be at their disposal.
5. Forward evolution with backward compatibility
Java evolves slowly, but it evolves. With over 25 years of evolution, Java has many evolutionary improvements to be proud of.
From the rock-solid modularity system provided as part of Project Jigsaw to the recently added capability of functional programming in Java with lambda functions, Java continues to implement the big changes the community demands.
Incremental additions in non-LTS versions, such as the addition of the new Record data type and garbage collectors for better memory management, show that the JDK is also constantly evolving.
But in the world of enterprise software development, backward compatibility is just as important as adding new features. Java has always made it a top priority for language stewards. Very rarely, a complete update or addition of functionality creates problems with code written with older versions.
I have personally compiled and packaged some complicated code that was written 20 years ago, and it has run smoothly on the latest version of Java 17. When enterprise customers know things won’t break when ‘they will be upgrading from JVM, that just gives another reason why they choose to stick with Java as the best programming language.