As Java the programming language turns 26 this year, which is very old by software development standards, some people, especially beginners in programming, are wondering if Java is still relevant and worth learning today, in 2021.
But does this mean that Java’s popularity, relevance, and actual importance are on the decline in the software development world, and learning other technologies instead of Java would be a smarter choice? Absolutely not. Even though you can see occasional opinions on the Web heralding the fading popularity of Java, in fact, today, in 2021 this programming language is more relevant than ever and will remain so in the years, possibly decades, to come.
Java is still the king of the enterprise world
One of the key reasons Java is not going anywhere is the fact that it is still very much the most commonly used programming language in the enterprise world. A number of features make Java the most common choice for enterprise applications development.
- Scalability and reliability
The fact that Java is a very efficient and scalable language able to provide powerful performance even with a high workload is a very important factor, which ensures the scalability of software solutions that is essential for most enterprises.
- Coding standards and documentation
Another crucially important for enterprise development feature is the specified standards of OOP development and the abundance of documentation available when it comes to all aspects of Java development. This makes it easier to maintain Java-based products and solutions by different developers over the years, which is one more strength of Java in the eyes of the enterprise.
- Large number of libraries available
The availability of tens of thousands of various Java libraries is also a significant factor in the enterprise as it allows to make the development process faster and cheaper.
The existence of Java Virtual Machine makes applications written in Java work on various other platforms, which is another big advantage for the enterprise. While Java code is considered to be among the most portable across all the devices and platforms.
And a number of other major reasons, such as relatively high security, simplicity, excellent development tools, and a huge number of Java developers available in the world. Due to all these reasons, Java is consistently supported by many world-leading tech companies and organizations. In fact, more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies use Java for their products. Probably no other programming language or technological platform has so much support across tech and multiple other industries.
Keeping up with the times and Oracle support
But being popular in the enterprise is not the only reason Java’s future isn’t in much of a doubt even today, (almost) 26 years after its release.
Managed by the Oracle Corporation, Java is evolving to keep up with new development trends and standards. Since 2018, Java is on a 6-month new release cycle with new versions coming in March and September each year. This allows Oracle and the global Java community to offer a steady stream of innovations while also delivering continued performance, stability, and security improvements.
Not so long ago, in March 2021, Oracle announced
the availability of Java 16, which includes 17 new enhancements to the platform that will further improve developer productivity.
“The power of the six-month release cadence was on full display with the latest release. Pattern Matching and Records were introduced a year ago as part of JDK 14 and have since gone through multiple rounds of community feedback based on real-world applications. This process has not only given Java developers the opportunity to experiment with these features before they were finalized but also incorporated that critical feedback which has resulted in two rock-solid JEPs that truly meet the needs of the community,” said Georges Saab, vice president of development, Java Platform Group, Oracle.
The Java 16 release was the result of industry-wide development involving open review, weekly builds, and extensive collaboration between Oracle engineers and members of the worldwide Java developer community.
Java in emerging tech trends
When it comes to fields of usage, it’s not just the enterprise development where Java is common and relied upon. Is it also widely used across a number of the most trending niches and technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), IoT (Internet of things), blockchain, Big data, etc.
According to IoT Developer Survey
, Java is by far the most important programming language in this niche. And this is not surprising as originally Java was created as a language for PDA (personal digital assistant) applications. PDAs, being basically the predecessors of modern smartphones, required a special language that would work well on low-power mobile devices and will be universally portable across different mobile platforms. Java has all of this, which coincidentally makes it a great match for various IoT devices.
In the AI field, Java is used in the development of solutions for machine learning, neural networks, search algorithms, genetic programming, and multi-robotic systems. Java features like object orientation and scalability are very much in demand both in big-scale AI projects and with businesses that are already using AI in their platforms.
Big data is a rapidly growing industry that is also very reliant on Java. A large number of major big data tools and technologies (like Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark) are based on Java code. In many ways, you could say that Big data is Java and cannot live without it. The same is with many cloud computing platforms that are frequently based on Java as well.
Even though you could find predictions of Java’s soon-arriving death on the Internet occasionally for the last about ten years, this language and the technology ecosystem built around it is still very much alive today, in 2021. And most certainly it is not going anywhere anytime soon due to all the reasons stated above and some others.
This is why choosing Java as the programming language to learn in 2021 is still a smart decision both if you want to have a long-term career in software development or simply looking to acquire a skill that will stay relevant in the tech industry for years to come.