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Summary of Java in 2020: major releases of versions 14 and 15, and Java's popularity and ranking

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Despite the coronavirus pandemic and accompanying economic crisis, some good things did happen in 2020. For example, new versions of Java were released. On top of that, Java is still the most popular development language in the world. Let's summarize 2020 and recall what happened to the programming language throughout the year.Summary of Java in 2020: major releases of versions 14 and 15, and Java's popularity and ranking - 1

Java updates: versions 14 and 15

Two Java updates were released in the outgoing year: 14 and 15. The innovations in version 14 include experimental support for the record keyword, support for pattern matching in the instanceof operator, more user-friendly NullPointerExceptions, an extended preview of text blocks, and default support for the updated switch statement. "Java 14 is further evidence of the benefits of the six-month release cycle: developers get access to features that they would otherwise wait for years", noted George Saab, Oracle's Vice President of the Java Platform Group. According to Saab, JDK 14 not only contains enhancements that will increase developer productivity, but this release also includes, for the first time, important content from projects such as Project Panama (an enhanced external memory access interface) and further enhancements from Project Amber (pattern matching and records). One of the key innovations in Java 14 is records. In essence, what we're talking about is a new type developed during Project Valhalla. Records are similar to enums and let you simplify your code. Basically, they replace classes that have state but no behavior. In JDK 14, you can connect the incubating Foreign-Memory Access API that allows Java applications to safely and efficiently access memory regions outside the Java Virtual Machine's heap using the new MemorySegment, MemoryAddress, and MemoryLayout abstractions. Version 15 includes such innovations as the Edwards-curve Digital Signature Algorithm, hidden classes, as well as the final versions of features that were previously previews: text blocks and the ZGC garbage collector. As an experimental feature, Java 15 added sealed classes for the first time, and also again enabled records and pattern matching for the instanceof operator. In summary, thanks to the six-month update cycle, Java has managed to evolve and isn't lagging behind other programming languages.

Java in the rankings: it's still popular

Java remains the most popular major language in the world, according to a study by JetBrains. It is used by about 5.2 million developers. The IDC report entitled "Java Turns 25" is no less optimistic: more than 9 million developers worldwide use Java. "Today, 51 billion Java virtual machines (JVMs) are deployed and actively used worldwide, making Java the preferred choice for developing modern enterprise applications, including analytics, microservices, data management, social services, big data, DevOps, mobile apps, continuous development tools, and chatbots," says Manish Gupta, Vice President of Global Marketing for Java. In December 2020, Java became the second most popular programming language in the world, according to the TIOBE index, which measures the popularity of programming languages. Those who compile the rating explain that Java's popularity among employers is due to the large number of applications and services written in this language. In the ranking on job search site Java was ranked second place, only outstripped by SQL. Let's not forget about the results of the annual survey of the Stack Overflow developer community: In 2020, Java ranked 5th among the most popular development languages. As you can see, though Java did not rise in popularity ratings in 2020, neither did it sink.

Where Java is used and for what

Asia currently has the largest number of Java developers, with about 2.5 million programmers using Java as their primary language, according to JetBrains. Above all, Java is used in China and South Korea, where it accounts for about 51% and 50% of developers, respectively. Java is widely used in India, Germany, Spain, and Brazil. The JetBrains study clarifies that Java's popularity in the top 6 countries of the list is due to the free use of Java, government support, and open source. Among developers, Java 8 is still the most beloved version. Three quarters of Java developers prefer it. That said, Java 11's popularity is growing. Year on year, this version's share increased by 10%. Java 12 and Java 13, which are relatively fresh, are also quickly finding an audience — each of them is used by 10% or more. Spring Boot is the leader among Java frameworks, having been chosen by 61% of developers. The second and third places are taken by Spring MVC (42%) and JSF (6%), respectively. In 2020, Java was the language most commonly used for web development (36%). Second is development of utilities (25%), and in third place we have system software development (19%).

Java in the news

What else happened with Java in 2020? We've put together a selection of important news about Java development.

Java proficiency has become one of the three most in-demand technical skills for remote working.

Dice, a US-based job search service, created a list of technical skills, programming languages, and tools most in demand among employers seeking telecommuting employees. In the last two months, the SQL language held the lead, followed by project management and the Java language. The study's authors noted that organizations in the health and education sectors most actively embraced remote work during the pandemic.

Snowflake released a new framework for Java development.

Snowflake, a cloud storage and data management provider, unveiled a test version of the new Snowpark development environment. It supports multiple programming languages including Java, Scala and Python. Snowpark includes a set of APIs that optimize interaction between your codebase and the core Snowflake engine. The IDE is complemented by new support for serverless tasks in Snowflake Data Cloud.

Red Hat introduced Quarkus Java framework for the cloud.

According to Quarkus's creators, the Quarkus framework lets you use Java on Kubernetes platforms, and bridges the gap between traditional Java applications and cloud-based environments. As a runtime environment, Quarkus lets you use Java efficiently to solve urgent problems when developing cloud-oriented applications or implementing new software models such as microservices, containers, and serverless computing.

The GraalVM virtual machine was updated to version 20.3.

Oracle issued this year's last release of GraalVM, a Java virtual machine and JDK based on HotSpot/OpenJDK. This is the first Long-Term-Support (LTS) release of GraalVM. The improvements introduced by GraalVM 20.3 included the following notable updates: improved compiler heuristics that boosted performance by 40%; improved generation of code for initializing newly allocated arrays; improved code duplication optimization (in the GraalVM Enterprise version). There you have it, that's what happened to Java this past year. What do you think was the most important event for the Java community in 2020?