Benefits of Java
When the seminal Java whitepaper introduced the language in 1995, it listed seven key benefits that set it above its competitors.
Almost 30 years have passed since that whitepaper was penned, and while many of those benefits remain valid, in 2023, there are more reasons than ever to choose Java as your deployment platform of choice.
Here are the top 10 modern advantages of Java, the JVM and the JDK:
- Java is open source.
- Java is community driven.
- Java is fast and high-performance.
- Java is easy to learn.
- Java is statically typed.
- Java has expert leadership.
- Java feature addition is fast.
- Java is object-oriented.
- Java supports functional programming.
- Java prioritizes backwards compatibility.
Java is open source
Java has been open source since 2011. Anyone can view the JDK’s source code and create a customized and optimized build.
Popular distributions of OpenJDK and the JVM include:
- Azul’s high-performance implementation.
- Oracle’s licensed versions.
- AdoptOpenJDK, which is now Adoptium.
- IBM’s Java runtime.
- Amazon Corretto.
- Red Hat’s OpenJDK distro.
- The Microsoft build of OpenJDK.
- High-performance GraalVM.
Google even went so far as to ‘borrow’ the Java source code and build its own mobile operating system.
The morality of doing so may be up for debate, but the Supreme Court of the United States said violating Oracle’s copyright to build the Android operating system was completely fair game.
Java is community driven
Oracle’s ownership of the Java trademark is a source of endless, petulant, hand-wringing in the tech community. The fact is, however, that Java moves forward through the Java Community Process (JCP), not through the whims of Larry Ellison.
The JCP is how new features, new specifications and new APIs are added to the Java programming language. Over the past 20 years, the JCP has accomplished the following:
- Added over 1000 members.
- Welcomed over 200 corporations.
- Encouraged independent developers to join.
Community support and contributions is one of the big advantages Java brings to the software development community.
Java is fast and high-performance
The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is an abstraction layer that makes it possible for Java programs to be cross-platform.
Java on the JVM may not be able to achieve the same performance as compiled languages like C++ or Rust. Nevertheless, improvements in how the garbage collector works, the use of a just in time compiler (JIT) and multitudes of other low-level optimizations bring near-native performance to the Java platform.
Java is easy to learn
The 1995 Java whitepaper boasted that Java was easy to learn because of its familiar, C-like syntax that was popular at the time of the language’s release.
Furthermore, online compilers such as Replit and OneCompiler allow learners to get started with Java without the need to install an IDE or configure JAVA_HOME.
In 2023, one of the big advantages of Java and the Java platform is that it’s easier to learn than ever.
Java is statically typed
- It makes it easier to manage large codebases.
- It makes it possible to optimize the runtime environment.
Java has expert leadership
While the language moves forward through the Java Community Process, two brilliant software architects have guided the Java platform’s evolution from within Oracle.
Mark Reinhold, Oracle’s chief architect in the Java platform group, and Brian Goetz, Oracle’s architect for the Java language, have provided technical continuity as the platform has grown over the past 20 years.
Their ongoing guidance has been the perfect complement to the contributions made by a continually changing set of interested parties from the greater Java community.
Feature adoption is fast
In comparison to other languages, one of the advantages of Java is how quick it is to adopt new features and respond to the needs of the community.
When Java 1.0 was released, the community showed disappointment with the language’s event model. The following year, Java 1.1 was released with an entirely updated, yet backwards compatible, event model.
Compare that to Python, which to the disappointment of users did not include a case statement in its initial release. It took over 25 years for Python to respond to its community and add this simple and basic feature to its syntax.
Java is object oriented
Java users take this fact for granted, but a discussion of the advantages of Java can’t overlook that Java is fully object-oriented, implementing important OOA&D concepts such as:
For organizations who adopt domain-driven design, or for complex problems where real-world concepts must be modeled in code, Java’s object-oriented nature is a huge advantage.
Java supports functional programming
There has been a big move in the software development industry toward functional programming, and Java has been a big part of that trend.
Functional programming and the use of immutable types can make programs faster, less verbose and easier to understand.
Java made a huge pivot in Java 8 with the introduction of Java Streams and lambda expressions, all of which ushered in a new age of functional programming with Java.
The fact that you can use the language to do both functional programming and object-oriented programming is a major advantage Java brings to the table.
As the Java community drives forward with major changes to the API, the stewards of the language have always prioritized backwards compatibility and non-breaking feature additions.
Even with the introduction of default interfaces and lambda expressions as functional programming, the Java platform has maintained backwards compatibility. Code written in earlier versions can run in an updated environment without even the need for recompilation.
In 2023, the advantages of Java are many, as the JDK and the JVM remain more relevant than ever.