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What is Java Used for? Interesting Facts, History & Future

Published August 8, 2020

What is Java Programming Language

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Java Programming Language is a pure object-oriented programming language. Java language was developed by James Gosling and his colleagues at a company named Sun Microsystems in the early 1990s. Usually other languages follow conventions like they are generally designed either to be compiled to native code that is machine code, or to be interrupted from source code at runtime. But Java Programming Language first compiled into a bytecode after that this bytecode runs generally using JIT compilation by Java Virtual Machine.

You can feel that much of the syntax of Java Programming Language matches with C and C++. But some of the simpler object models and fewer low-level facilities match with these languages. Java is only far-away related to JavaScript language. They have similar names and share a C-like syntax.

History of Java Programming Language

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Java Programming language has a very interesting history. The purpose for developing the Java programming language was to interact with television. But it was too advanced technology for the digital cable television industry at that time. Java language history starts from a small team that is named Green Team. And it’s team members are also known as the Green Team. This team initiated a project to develop a language that could support digital devices like set-top boxes, televisions, etc. However this technology was so suitable for internet programming. Later, Java programming language technology was integrated by Netscape.

The purposes of creating Java Programming Language were “Robust, Portable, Simple, Secured, Platform-independent, Multithreaded, High Performance, Object-Oriented, Architecture Neutral, Dynamic and Interpreted”. The developer of java is  James Gosling. Who is also known as the Father of Java. 

Java language was started as a project that is called “Oak” named by James Gosling in 1991. His goal was to implement a virtual machine and a language which has C-like notation but should be greater in syntax and simplicity than C/C++. In 1995 the Java 1.0 was first public implementation. Which made a promise “Write Once, Run Anywhere” with free runtimes on the world’s popular platforms. This language was very secure and the security of this language was configurable on both for network and file access to be limited. Soon famous and big web browsers later incorporated it into their standard configurations in a secure “applet” configuration. Java Programming Language became popular very quickly. Soon the Java language new versions were designed for large and small platforms(J2EE and J2ME) and this version was “Java 2”. After Java 2 Sun didn’t announce any plan for a new version “Java 3”.

Later in 1997, Sun moved toward the ISO/IEC JTC1 standards body and after that the Ecma International with the purpose of, to formalize Java, but it withdrew from this process. Then Java remains only a proprietary de facto standard which is controlled by the Java Community Process. Most of the Java Programming language implementations were available without any charge by Sun, with the revenue which was generated by some special products like Java Enterprise System. Sun differentiated the Software Development Kit (SDK) and the subset of SDK Runtime Environment (JRE). The primary difference is that in the JRE the compiler is not present.

Java Programming Language Philosophy

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There were five major and primary goals to creating the Java Programming Language:

  1. It should have an object-oriented programming methodology.
  2. The same Java programs should be executable on multiple operating systems.
  3.  It should have the built-in support for using computer networks.
  4. The code written with Java should be executed from remote sources securely. 
  5. It should be easier to use than the other object-oriented languages already present in the market.

Java developers need some extensions to achieve the goals of networking support and remote code execution, like COBRA, Internet Communication Engine and OSGI.

Characteristics of Java Programming Language

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Object Orientation

The first characteristic of this Java language Object Orientation (OO), refers to a programming method and language design. Although there are several explanations of OO. One of the primary distinguishing  ideas to implement this method and design is to design a software that has various types of data manipulation operations, and could be combined together with it’s relevant operations. So with this methodology code and data are combined into entities and these are called objects. You can think that an object is a bundle of some self-contained behavior (code) and state (data). The principle is simple that with implementation of this methodology it is easy to separate the things that can change from the things that stay the same; often, when a data structure changes. It requires change in its corresponding data that it’s code operates, or vice versa. A more stable foundation of software system design is provided by using this separation into logical objects. The main purpose of using this methodology is to make large software projects easy to manage, improving quality and reducing the number of failures in projects.

Platform Independent

One more primary goal of OO programming is to develop more generic objects. So that the code could be reusable across all the project scope. Let’s take an example of a customer module. This module has the same characteristics and behaviors across all the customers modules which have been created in different projects. Especially when in big organizations, different projects overlap.  This means one customer module could be used all over the projects where it is needed, instead of coding this module again from scratch. This reduces the two difficulties poorly coding understanding and the lake of reusability of code. Some open source communities are also helping and contributing with the authors of Java to make the functionality of reusing the code by coding the external libraries.

The second great characteristic of Java Programming Language is platform independent. That means if you write a code on one machine. You can run this code to any hardware or any other operating system that meets the requirements to be called cross platform.

This feature is achieved by the compilation method of Java. Where it compiles the java language code to bytecode (specifically Java bytecode) which are specified machine instructions to the Java platform. Then this code runs on a Virtual Machine that is designed using the native code on the host hardware to interpret and  execute the Java bytecode. And in order to access the host machine hardware like graphics, threading and networking. Java have provided us with some standard libraries to access these hardware features. You must know that if the java code is converted to bytecode for Java but at the end this bytecode is converted to native machine instructions by the JIT compiler to work with the coded instructions.

GCJ is also another implementation of Java compiler that compiles native object code and removes the intermediate bytecode to convert to machine language. But you must know that the output of these compilers can run on a single architecture. For the Java all implementations be “compatible”, This is the demand from Sun’s license. Due to this demand the dispute with Microsoft resulted when Sun claimed that, instead of RMI and JNI  Microsoft added their own platform-specific features to their own. In the result of the response, Microsoft couldn’t ship Java to their Windows OS. And in recent version of Windows, Java applet couldnt supported by Internet Explorer without any third party plug-in. However, Sun and others together have made and available Java run-time systems for that version and the other Windows versions for free.

To achieve portability the first implementation of Java language used and interpreted virtual machine. These types of implementation made Java language slower than the native code compilation process of other languages like C, C++. As a result the Java programming language got a bad reputation for poor performance. After that Java developers made other JVM implementations using other techniques to produce programs. This implementation resulted in the fact that now the Java programs could run more faster than the previous.

In the first technique compiler compiles code directly to native code like traditional compiler does. And skips the entire bytecode. This could give us good performance, but lose portability. But the second technique that is called just-in-time (JIT), translates this bytecode to native machine code at the time when the program runs. This resulted in now the program executes more faster than the interrupted code but also incurs compile process overhead during execution. More advanced, VMs use dynamic compilation. That means the VM could analyze the program behaviour that is running and selectively recompile and optimize the critical parts of the program. Dynamic recompilation becomes superior to static compilation because in dynamic compilation the program runs on the optimization base by getting knowledge of runtime environment and the sets of classes which are loaded. These both techniques JIT and dynamic compilation take advantages to run programs faster and optimized without losing portability.

The goal of portability technique was difficult to achieve. But this goal was mixed. And this was possible to write a program at once and could run consistently on many host platforms, but could give some small errors. And this led Sun’s to change their slogan from “Write once, run anywhere” to “Write once, debug everywhere”.

On the server-side applications Java programming language got success in platform-independent, like web services,servlets, and Enterprise JavaBeans, as well as some embedded systems which are based on OSGI which uses embedded Java environments. 

Automatic Garbage Collection

The idea behind Java’s automatic garbage collection model was to free the developers from the burdens of manually freeing space of the memory. In some languages when an object is created in the memory. That takes spaces in heap and is responsible for manually removing it’s space after it’s use is completed of any such object. If the developer forgot to remove these objects from memory which are no longer needed to use. This will result in memory leaks later and the program will consume a potentially arbitrarily large amount of memory. Another danger is if a region of memory is deallocated two times, this program could be unstable and could also crash. Finally, in an environment where the garbage collection environment is manual. There are many complexities to manage the final allocations of memory objects.

In the Java programming language this issue was resolved by using a feature of automatic garbage collection. In Java the developer creates objects and then the Java is responsible for managing the lifecycle of these objects. The objects or programs can hold the reference of the address of memory where the object is kept. When the Java objects no longer have the reference of that memory unit where the object was kept. That memory unit automatically removed from the memory with automatic garbage collection feature. Frees the memory to save and become leaks. Memory leaks can also occur even if an automatic garbage collection method is applied. This is because the object still holds the reference of that memory unit which is no more needed. And it occurs at higher conceptual levels.

The garbage collection can also affect programming paradigms. Let say if a programmer knows the memory allocation cost is low but he initializes or constructs the objects with large amounts of memory. Then this could affect the threads and also the disturbance of program performance.

If we compare Java and C++. Then it is possible in C++ to create automatic garbage collection features manually by coding the number of lines to perform this operation. But on the other hand Java can handle this automatically with garbage data. There is no need to code extra lines of code for garbage collection. This saves developer time and developers are free to use this feature.

Syntax

Basically the syntax of Java originates from C++. However, C++ has a combination of structured, generic and object-oriented programming. But Java is a pure object-oriented programming language. That means we can’t write anything without creating class. All the work is done in Java by creating objects. And all our data types, numbers and their values and characters are written inside the class. 

Lake of Object Orientation and Parallel Facilities

In Java programming language primitive types are not objects. Primitive types basically hold their values in a stack instead of referencing to the values. By Java developers this was a conscious decision for some performance reasons. Due to this, Java is not considered to become a pure object-oriented language. However, In the Java 5.0 version autoboxing feature enables developers to write primitive types in their classes and they can freely interchange for improving flexibility. Java developers didn’t include many features which are present in OO but not in the Java programming language.

  • Multiple Inheritance
  • Operator Overloading
  • Class Properties
  • Tuples

Java Runtime Environment

To run java programs you need an environment that has all the necessary dependencies and requirements. And this environment is called the Java 2 SDK or commonly known JDK. It includes all the necessary tools like Java compiler, Javadoc, and debugger. 

What is Java Used For?

Java programming language used in many fields. Here are some of the most popular fields where java language is used for.

Real World Applications

what is java used for
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The biggest and major use of java language is in real world applications. Like in E-Commerce android applications, scientific applications, financial applications (electronic trading system), in games like Minecraft, desktop applications like Eclipse, Netbeans, and intelliJ and many more.

Android Apps

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The major use of the java programming language is in android applications. You have many Java applications in your pocket. Yes that is your android smartphone. There are millions of apps that are built with Java programming language and are placed in playstore.

Financial Services Industry

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Java is very rich for developing server-side back-end applications that doesn’t has any user interface and gets request from one server to another server specially in trading systems. Many banks uses the java language to build their applications.

Java Web Applications

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Java is widely used in building the web applications. Like many e-commerce website APIs built using Spring MVC, Struts 2.0 and similar frameworks.

Many Big government projects are developed using java programming language.

Healthcare, Insurance, Education, Defense and several other government departments uses java to develop their rich and large scale applications.

Software Tools

Many software tools are built and developed using Java language like Eclipse, PHP Storm, Web Storm, Android Studio, IntelliJ Idea etc.

Java is very powerful language to develop desktop applications.

Here are more list of the fields where Java programming language is used.

  • Trading Application
  • J2ME Apps
  • Embedded Space
  • Big Data technologies
  • High Frequency Trading Space
  • Scientific Applications

What is the future of Java Programming Language?

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Java is one of the most in-demand languages. 

Java language is everywhere, If not as a native form then it is in the form of embedded in a Framework!

To have a vast variety of Development Frameworks for Mobile Phones to Web. Java remains the most popular language in the world.

There are many popular frameworks which are Developed in Java. Many of them listed below:

  1. Spring MVC
  2. Struts 2
  3. Hibernate
  4. JSF
  5. Vaadin
  6. GOOGLE WEB KIT
  7. GRAILS

Besides, The most popular framework for development of android apps, Android Studio also employs Java. Recently Google also developed Kotlin(on Java) and declared the language for Android Development. There is a lot of active development which is going on in Java and its frameworks. So it means Java is actually the real Trend in future.

Salary of Java Developer

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The average salary of experienced Java developers in the market is $79K per year. And the highest salary is up to $117K per yer. These salaries limit applied based on your skills and years of experience that you gained during development. If you are a creative, skilled and experienced developer. So you will definitely get great salary packages with handsome opportunities in big companies.

  • Minimum salary of a Java developer is $57K per year.
  • Average salary of a Java developer is $79K per year.
  • Maximum salary of a Java developer is $117K per year.

Summary

Overall the Java programming language is a great language. It is a powerful and worthy language. That has a bright future and will always remain because of its great features. If you are thinking of making your future in Java. So start from now and gain much experience. And you will get great opportunities that are waiting for you in the market. Even if you are a less experienced developer you can also get a job. And will start from as a junior Java developer. I personally love Java programming language.

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