Almost every software developer eventually faces the issue of which programming language to learn. It’s important to consider all the pros and cons carefully as the choice determines more than just the functions and algorithms of a particular language but the tools, frameworks, and platforms to utilize.
Java programming language has proved to be one of the most reasonable choices. It’s been on the market for more than 20 years and is still ranked among the top 5 most popular programming languages. Java application development ranges from mobile apps ending to enterprise solutions. And the last Java 15 version was released in September 2020. Therefore, if you haven’t started learning Java yet, then this article is just right for you. You’ll learn:
- Why should you learn the Java programming language?
- What are the pros and cons of Java?
- Is it difficult to learn Java?
Why you should learn Java Programming Language
What’s so special about Java? Before we get to the reasons why you should learn Java, let’s have a look at its main features.
Java is an object-oriented strongly-typed programming language developed by Oracle company that adopts the “Write once, run anywhere” approach. It means that Java can be used for the development of mobile, web, desktop, and enterprise apps.
Java offers software developers a diverse set of development tools. It involves:
- Java Development Kit (JDK). JDK helps to build sustainable solutions. This kit includes Java compiler, Java Runtime Environment (JRE), a set of standard Java libraries, Utilities, documentation. All these tools allow writing Java code.
Depending on the Java package or edition, Java offers different development sets. For example, Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE), Java Mobile Edition (Java ME), OpenJDK – an open-source set, and others.
- Java Runtime Environment (JRE) that includes the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), core classes, and supporting files. All of them help to run Java code.
- Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is a set of tools like code editor, compiler, debugger, and build automation tools. Altogether they facilitate application development and help to run, edit, and compile Java code.
What Are the Pros of Java?
Now, as we’ve defined what Java is and what tools it uses, let us share the top 5 reasons why you should opt for Java:
1. Object-Oriented Programming language
Java is an Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) language. The Object-Oriented Programming style is very popular among software developers as it simplifies the structure and organization of software apps. Therefore, Java programmers can create complex scalable programs in an easier and more coherent way.
Java as an OOP language follows the principles of:
- Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) that helps to reduce the number of repetitive code lines;
- SOLID makes code logically structured and as a result easier to modify, and debug.
SOLID and DRY allow writing less code of high efficiency and in a shorter time. All this results in better maintenance and lower costs.
2. Effective development tools
You already know that Java offers a wide range of development tools and packages by default. Yet, there is an even bigger choice among all the possible tools compiled with Java. Here are just some examples:
- Eclipse, Intellij IDEA, and Netbeans are the well-known Java IDEs that provide valuable assistance for code finalization, its refactoring, and checking for errors;
- JUnit is a framework for running unit tests that allows testing blocks of code before module completion. It means that it helps software developers run tests on the fly, assuring that your apps function properly;
- Spring, Maven, and Struts frameworks enable Java developers to build complex software solutions, using set design patterns and helpful development tools;
- with Apache ANT Java developers can automate recurring tasks, accelerating app development, and minimizing the number of possible mistakes;
- JRat and Apache JMeter allow measuring apps, databases, and web services performance and also track their functional behavior. These tools help to define potential problems and enhance app performance;
- diverse API for development on Android, networking, directory services, object-relational mapping, database connection, adding media, and many more.
The list of handy tools for Java is immensely rich. They can significantly facilitate and automate software development, even for the most complex applications.
3. Open-source libraries
Apart from Java standard libraries, software developers can find many open-source and free libraries online gathered in Apache Commons and Google Guava, Jackson, and other library sets. They extend the basic Java collection functionalities and help to develop apps easier, faster, and at a lower cost.
A useful tip: before writing a piece of code, search the needed functionality in Google. You can find many ready-made solutions online which were created and tested in practice by other developers.
4. All-round support
Java developers have plenty of ways to resolve their doubts in Java. This programming language has strong community support. No matter what proficiency level a Java developer has, he can always ask for help on many active Java forums and groups such as Oracle Java Community, JavaWorld, StackOverflow, GitHub, and many others.
Besides that, Java has well-elaborated documentation which adds to its popularity. Javadoc has explanations on almost everything, moreover, it’s convenient to reach. For example, instead of searching in Google how to use Eclipse IDE, Java developers can find all the information in an IDE window itself.
5. Distributed language
Java is a distributed language which means that Java developers can share and store their Java code and application parts on different computers. This way Java developers can build distributed apps, reaching them from any machine by LAN or Internet connection.
Distributed programming in Java is possible due to Remote Method Invocation (RMI) which establishes remote communication between an app’s parts. Besides that, Java has many tools that facilitate the creation of network connections such as an extensive library of classes that use TCP/IP protocols for remote access and CORBA distribution methodology that enables collaboration between different operating systems, programming languages, or computing software.
Disadvantages of Java Language
Java is an effective and well-equipped programming language, however, like any other language it has its shortcomings. Here are the main ones:
Java is partially free
In 2019 starting from Java SE 8 Oracle company decided to charge for business, commercial, or production use. However, personal desktop use, development, testing, prototyping, demonstrating, and use for certain types of apps are still free. There is a free version of Java called Open JDK which represents an open-source implementation of the Java Standard Edition (Java SE).
Therefore, if a development company wants to use the whole set of Java functions, it should carefully estimate how often they use Java for software development, and what tools they use the most often.
Many software developers claim that Java is slow in comparison to C and C++ programming languages. However, Python and Ruby aren’t much faster than natively compiled code in C.
There are a number of reasons that make Java slower such as the use of a virtual machine, issues with garbage collection when a Stop-the-world garbage collection is necessary, Java memory leaks, and others. Java developers can prevent all these problems with thorough pre-planning, therefore, Java requires much focus on it.
Java offers various tools for building user interfaces. And while for Android apps Android Studio runs perfectly, desktop apps may face some troubles in Java. The most widespread Java GUI builders for desktop are SWT, Java FX, JSF, and Swing.
Although Swing is integrated into different Java IDEs like Eclipse and NetBeans, it can have performance issues and it may look a bit outdated due to its seldom releases. SWT doesn’t suit well for building complicated user interfaces, while Java FX can give developers some installation and performance troubles. Therefore, for building viable and effective GUI on Java, Java developers have to perform a bit of research and adjust to GUI frameworks.
Java is easy to read and understand, though Java’s long syntax may discourage some beginners from learning it. In its early days, Java was developed with closer proximity to English, opposing to hard to comprehend C++. This English-like nature made it easier to understand for non-experts, however, much bulkier for developers.
Is It Difficult to Learn Java?
Java is a high-level beginner-friendly language. It’s far easier to learn and use than C++ due to it’s English like syntax. However, it’s still a bit lengthy in comparison to Python. For advanced developers who already know C++ and Python, Java will seem really easy.
As soon as software developers learn how to install JDK, set up PATH, and understand how Classpath works, they can easily write a program in Java. And if Java developers have any doubts about Java, they can find dozens of online tutorials and plenty of advice from experts.
The Future of Java Programming
Although Java has its own issues, it still remains one of the leaders in the software development market. Oracle company wisely adjusts Java to the existing and emerging technologies and makes it easier to utilize Java by offering a diverse set of Java tools.
For example, Java is widely used for building Android solutions, microservice architectures that are widely used for building IoT solutions, serverless architecture with AWS Lambda, and many more.
Java keeps developing with the pace of the advent of new technologies and seems like it’ll stay with us for a while.