What Is Java?: Exploring the Different Versions of Java

What Is Java? Discovering the Fundamentals and More

Final: What Is Java

Java is one of the most common and widely used programming languages among developers. It is a general-purpose, class-based programming language for developing apps and enterprise software.

Designed by James Gosling for Sun Microsystems, Java first appeared on May 23, 1995 and has been described as multi-paradigm, generic, imperative, reflective, and concurrent.

This article answers the question: what is Java programming? It also covers why Java is an important programming language, how it works, and how to learn Java as a beginner.

 

Key Highlights

  • Java is a multi-platform, high-level, object-oriented programming language used to create mobile and web applications and can also be used as a platform
  • Java has platform independence, security, automatic memory management, scalability, etc., making it a common choice among developers
  • Mobile and desktop apps, games, enterprise applications, financial, and scientific apps, are built with the Java program
  • Java has different versions for different types of applications and the one you use depends on the app you are building
  • To learn Java as a beginner, you must start from the basics, and constantly practice by writing your own programs

 

What Is Java Language?

As of 2022, JavaScript and HTML/CSS were the most commonly used programming languages among software developers around the world.

Source: Statista.com

Java is a multi-platform, high-level, object-oriented programming language web developers use to create apps with few languages. It is one of the five most used programming languages. Java uses the  C++ language and performs garbage collection, dynamic memory management, and threading, and has an independent platform.

Since Java’s introduction in 1995, there have been several versions, the first being Java JDK Alpha. The latest is Java SE Development Kit 11.0.18. Also, the programming language has several uses, including the following:

  • Developing Android and web applications
  • Creating enterprise software
  • Big Data analysis
  • Programming hardware devices and server-side technologies like JBoss, Apache, Glassfish, etc.

Final: What Is Java

 

Why Is Java Such a Popular Programming Language Among Modern Software Developers?

As mentioned, Java programming is standard among web developers, who have used it for over two decades. It has been used to develop several mobile and desktop applications, including enterprise systems applications. If you are wondering why this programming language is popular, below are the top reasons.

Platform Independence

One of Java’s selling points is that you can use it on any underlying platform without modification. So it is usable on Linux, Windows, iOS, and Android. Java doesn’t need rewriting because the Java code is compiled into bytecode and executed by the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) on any platform. As a result, it stands out in today’s tech world, where people need to run applications on several devices.

Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)

Object-oriented programming organizes design around data or objects instead of functions and logic. As an OOP programming language, Java works with the concepts of objects with properties and behaviors. This makes writing and maintaining complex structures easier.

Automatic Memory Management

Java technology has a garbage collector that automatically manages memory allocation and deallocation. As a result, there are fewer memory leaks and errors, which translates to more occasional software crashes.

Security

You can download unsecured Java code over a network and run it in a secure environment where it cannot cause harm. This is because Java has in-built security features, e.g., the security manager protects systems against malicious code and other threats.

Rich API

Java’s rich API (Application Programming Interface) makes it easy to access diverse functionalities. The latter includes networking, database access, and user interface design.

Multi-Threading

Java multithreading is the process of executing two or more threads simultaneously for maximum utilization of the CPU. It helps to improve performance and responsiveness in multi-tasking apps.

Scalability

The final reason why the Java program is so common is its scalability. The technology can handle large applications and is easily extended with new features and functionality.

 

Where Is Java Used in the Software Industry?

Final: What Is Java

It’s established that Java is used in different apps and programs, including web applications. But it hasn’t stopped the question: is WordPress better than coding? The truth is WordPress is a website builder and doesn’t require coding.

Also, WordPress does not perform the same functions as Java and does not use the programming language. Let’s now answer the central question of this section: what is Java used for in the software industry?

Web Applications

Java is used by 4.7% of all the websites whose server-side programming language we know.

Source: W3techs.com

Web developers use Java to create dynamic websites, including server-side web apps and web services. Also, it is easy to code and has high security. Examples of web frameworks built with Java programs are JavaServer Faces (JSF), Spring, and Struts.

Mobile Applications

Android devices have several apps built with Java programming language, and it was used to create Android Studio. Examples of Java apps are Twitter, Spotify, Cash App, etc. In addition, Java technology runs on iOS, but Java Virtual Machine does not run on iPhones.

Desktop Applications

Java is also used for desktop applications, including cross-platform apps that function on multiple operating systems. Desktop apps created with Java have attractive interfaces and designs that can store and retrieve information from a database.

Enterprise Applications

An enterprise application (EA) is a comprehensive system platform designed to operate in a corporate environment. Java runs on modern hardware, reduces technical dependency, and can link all the devices and operating systems within the enterprise.

Games

Java for game development led to the creation of several three-dimensional worlds like Minecraft. It is primarily used for mobile games, and Java-based game engines like LibGDX and jMonkey Engine are favored by game developers.

Financial Applications

Java programming language is used in the financial world to build trading and risk systems. It is also used to create front- and back-end office e-systems, regulatory and confirmation systems, handle data projects, etc.

Scientific Applications

Web developers use Java to create simulation and modeling software for scientific communities. They also use the technology for data analysis and building visualization tools.

 

Step-by-Step Guide: How Does Java Work?

So far, this article has answered the question: what is Java? and shared the different ways developers use it in the software industry. Next is a step-by-step process of how a Java program works, along with sample codes.

Final: What Is Java

Write Java Code

Java source code is written in plain text files with a java file extension. It must be in a Java development environment like NetBeans, Eclipse, and IntelliJ IDEA.

public class HelloWorld {

public static void main(String[] args) {

System.out.println("Hello, world!");

}

}

Compiling Java Code

Next, compile the written Java code. If you save the code in the HelloWorld.java file, the compilation will happen once you enter this command:

javac HelloWorld.java

Once the compilation is complete, it will create a file titled HelloWorld.class

Load the Java Class

To load the Java class into the memory, enter the following command:

java HelloWorld

Verify the Java Class

The Java Virtual Machine will verify the Java bytecode immediately after the class loads into memory.

Execute the Java Program

The Java Virtual Machine will interpret the code and execute the Java program. Once this happens, the program will print ‘Hello, world!’ to the console.

Garbage Collection

The Java program will start running, and the JVM will automatically handle memory allocation and deallocation. The garbage collector is automated, and it periodically checks for and deletes codes/objects that are not useful.

Debugging and Testing

At the development stage, you can use debugging and testing tools like Eclipse IDE, LLDB, Radare2, etc., to identify and fix errors in the Java code.

Deploying the Java Program

At this stage, the Java program is complete and you can package it into a Java archive (jar) file. Then install it to a server or circulate it as a standalone. Note that the installation process might change based on the app and the installation environment.

 

Java Versions: Which One Should You Use for Different Apps?

As mentioned, Java has different versions and editions, with each having a definite purpose. Below are the different Java versions and the apps you can use them for.

Final: What Is Java

Java Standard Edition (SE)

If you want to deploy apps on desktops and servers, use Java Standard Edition. It is favored by developers and with it, you can access the core Java platform. Java’s core platform consists of tools, libraries, and Java APIs. The latest version is Java SE 17, released in September 2021.

Java Enterprise Edition (EE)

Java EE is an enterprise program with APIs and tools for creating web-based apps. This includes servlets, web services, and JavaServer Pages (JSP).  Java EE was rebranded as Jakarta EE in 2021, and the latest version is Jakarta EE 9.1.

Java Micro Edition (ME)

The Java Micro Edition is a computing platform for developing and deploying portable code for embedded and mobile devices. It has a subset of the Java SE API and is optimized for low-power and limited-memory devices. The latest version is Java ME Version 8.3.1.

Java Card

Java card allows small devices, like smart cards and other tamper-resistant security chips, to host applications that use Java technology. The latest version is Java Card Release 3.2.

JavaFX

JavaFX is an open-source, next-generation client application platform for mobile, desktop, and embedded systems built on Java. It has tools for designing and deploying user interfaces and APIs for integrating with other Java technologies. The latest version is the JavaFX SDK 19 LTS.

Note: The version of Java you use depends on the unique requirements of the application you are building.

 

What Is Java Hosting? and How Does It Support Web Applications?

Again, Java is a popular programming language used mainly for web development because it is flexible, scalable, and secure. Java hosting involves leasing a server (VPS, Cloud, or Dedicated server) to create java applications, and it is different from web hosting.

Final: What Is Java

Below are the ways Java hosting supports web applications.

Provides Java Virtual Machine

JVM allows computers to run Java programs, manages application memory, and provides a portable environment for Java-based applications on a web server. Java hosting has a pre-installed JVM that runs the Java applications on the server.

It does not require any additional setup from the user. In an interview with HostAdvice, Alon Zabron talked about how JVM differs from other ways of hosting.

Java support is like an addition to usual hosting features. A simplified recipe can be: take a regular web host, then add a shell, private JVM, and a JVM management plugin. This way, any client can consolidate non-Java and Java apps under a single account. JVM is like a small virtual machine inside a regular hosting account, and thus such an account usually needs more resources (CPU, memory, IO) than a regular hosting account.

~ Alon Zabron of JVM Host

Supports Java Frameworks

Java hosting supports Java web frameworks like Struts, Spring, and Hibernate, making creating and deploying web applications easier. These frameworks have tools that developers can use to simplify the development process.

Offers Server-Side Scripting

Server-side scripting is a website design technique that allows the process or user request to run on the originating server. As a result, developers can execute the Java code on the server side and not the client’s browser and build more secure and dynamic web applications.

Provides Database Support

Java hosting supports databases like MySQL, Oracle, and PostgreSQL, often used in Java-based web applications.

Offers High-Performance Servers

Java hosting also provides high-performance servers. These servers have been optimized to run Java applications and are fast and reliable.

 

How to Learn Java as a Beginner

915,718 websites use Java, making it the third most-used programming language.

Source: Webtechsurvey.com

 

If you want to learn Java as a beginner, here are tips to help you get started:

Start With the Basics

Learn Java basics before going into more complex concepts and projects. As you study, practice simple programs and work your way up.

Get Hands-On Experience

Constantly practice what you learn and write codes. Also, experiment with different features and functionalities of Java.

Use Online Resources

Final: What Is Java

There are many materials online, like tutorials, forums, and videos, that you can use to learn Java. You can also study on platforms that offer online courses like Udemy and Coursera and use resources like Oracle’s official Java documentation.

Join a Community

Joining a community of Java developers and enthusiasts who will help you grow and serve as a support system. Examples of Java communities are Java User Groups (JUGs) and the r/java subreddit on Reddit.

Learn From Others

Get mentored by experienced Java developers and learn from their wealth of knowledge and experience. Also, attend Java conferences and workshops, and join an apprenticeship program.

Build Projects

Don’t just learn; build projects. When you create an app, you practicalize what you learned and gain real-world experience.

Stay-up-to Date

Java technology is constantly evolving, so you must evolve too. Stay up-to-date with new updates, features, and best practices. Read Java news and blogs from sources like JavaWorld and Baeldung, and subscribe to newsletters.

 

Conclusion

This article has answered the questions: what is Java? and what is Java good for? It is a popular programming language web developers use to build different applications in the software industry.

Java has hosting capabilities, and there are several online sources to learn Java programming language as a beginner. Also, you can use the resources on HostAdvice to learn more about Java and other web hosting platforms.

 

Next Steps: What Now?

 

Further Reading: Useful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three types of Java?

Java has types or editions: Java Standard Edition, Java Enterprise Edition, and Java Micro Edition. The Micro Edition supports applications running on mobile and embedded devices. The Standard Edition is for developing and deploying Java apps, while the Enterprise Edition is for building enterprise software.

What is Java for artificial intelligence?

Java artificial intelligence programming creates machine learning solutions, search algorithms, neural networks, multi-robot systems, and genetic programming. Also, Java works for AI projects because it is scalable and object-oriented.

What is the Java programming language used for?

Java is a general-purpose, object-oriented programming language used for different types of applications. Developers use the Java program to create web applications, desktop apps, mobile applications, video games, security frameworks, etc.

Why is the Java language used for cloud applications?

Java is a popular cloud computing language due to its scalability, flexibility, and robustness. Java is easy to learn, robust, versatile, and modular. Also, many cloud providers support Java, allowing developers to build and deploy applications using the language.

What are the popular games in Java?

Some popular games written in Java include Minecraft, Runescape, Angry Birds, and Age of Empires. Since Java provides powerful APIs and libraries to build 3D graphics and animations quickly, it is an ideal programming language for game development. Also, Java is highly portable, making deploying games on multiple platforms easy.

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