To 25 glorious years of Java!
Java is turning 25 years old! Here’s a tribute to keeping the tradition of Java programming alive and well. This article takes a look back at the history of the programming language, how it transformed an era, and how it excels today in multiple spheres.
In 1995, the first public implementation of Java was launched. It was originally conceptualized to help the new and improved television remote control (home-entertainment controller, if you will), which the industry wasn’t enthused by. Soon, Java found its footing in application development for desktop computing. As the Internet came along, Java became the de facto language for web applications.
It was a transformational force in the history of software in the internet era. This was true for two reasons:
- Its conciseness, object-oriented nature, in-built libraries, runtime error detection etc. made enterprise application programming quicker and easier than the alternatives available then such as C, COBOL and the like.
- It delivered on the ‘write once, run anywhere’ promise with total platform independence, OS-independent Java virtual machines (JVM), support for internet protocols such as http/ftp etc.
As a result, it soon came to shape the way enterprise workloads and application servers were being built, meeting their needs of scalability, security, reliability etc. In 2006, the language was formally open-sourced for the community that drove large scale adoption and contribution.
In parallel, it also powered the mobile technology phenomenon we’re experiencing today. Symbian OS, one of the early mobile operating systems, supported Java, giving wings to several mobile applications and games of the time. As mobile technology evolved, a significant part of Android itself and most Android applications came to be built with Java. In fact, until 2017, it was the preferred Android application development language.
Today, it is still among the top three. If Java was ever losing patrons, Android gave it the much needed boost.
Twenty-five years and over nine million developers later, Java remains one of the most popular, commonly used, and highly regarded general-purpose programming languages all over the world. Of the 390 languages in which developers contributed to GitHub repository, Java comes third, outranked just this year by Python from the second place it held for over a decade.
The language’s popularity and adoption rates continue to be high simply because of its versatility and range.
Here are a few ways in which it is shaping present and future technology:
Enabling applications on the cloud.
This doesn’t just mean building new cloud-native applications, but also modernizing existing enterprise applications for cloud environments.
With its ‘write once, run anywhere’ capabilities, Java ensures that applications work on multi-cloud environments, containerized apps, cross-platform apps etc.
The backbone of enterprise applications.
Studies show that Java remains the top language in the enterprise application development landscape.
This is especially true for server-side applications across enterprise workloads. In fact, some of the world’s most visited websites such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon, use Java for their back-end programming, as one of the few languages they have in their tech stack.
Connecting the Internet of things.
Several IoT applications, including wearable technology apps, are being built on Java.
Existing ecosystem of cross-platform applications, easy portability and interoperability are encouraging developers to build IoT applications on Java, to say nothing of the platform independence needed to connect myriad devices across the globe.
Powering the data revolution
Andrew Binstock, Editor in Chief of the Oracle Java Magazine, wrote in Forbes that, “The big data revolution is primarily a Java phenomenon.” We can’t disagree given frameworks like Hadoop are primarily written in Java, and languages like Scala are interoperable with it.
Whether it enabled the big data revolution or not, it is powering a significant portion of data and analytics projects even to this day. Though Python and R are emerging as the top programming languages for analytics and big data applications, programmers who are used to Java find it simpler to take their skills to new applications.
Taking the world mobile
Like I mentioned before, a significant number of Android developers use Java as their programming language. While Kotlin is slowly gaining ground, developers well-equipped with skills in Java are unlikely to shift any time soon. And it helps that they have a vibrant and collaborative community to reach out to.
As we look around the developer community, there is no doubt that the opportunities for Java developers are aplenty. It features among the top skill sets that are the toughest to find. A recent study in the UK found so. This is also true in the US, as found by the LinkedIn Economic Graph Forum. Traditional Java teams in enterprises are on the path to learning new skills and adopting new approaches to app development.
Today, there are enterprise grade low-code Platforms based on open standards and frameworks that are empowering professional Java developers go full-stack and upskill very quickly. Whether you’re modernizing an existing application or building a new one, they can supplement Java coding across the application development and delivery lifecycle.
In the past, we have seen the language come out on top on several phases like the dotcom boom, and the mobile era. In today’s age of Leaner teams and Faster deliveries, we look forward to seeing Java reinvent itself to help developers across the world accelerate apps from ideas!
Happy 25th year anniversary Java!