JavaWhat are the Benefits of Java?

What are the Benefits of Java?

Developer.com content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Java Programming tutorials
Java is ranked as one of the world’s most widely used programming languages in the world by surveys from the likes of the Developer State of the Union and the TIOBE Index. It consistently battles stalwarts such as Python, C#, and JavaScript for top recognition and has held steadfast to the number one or number two spot for over two decades. In today’s programming tutorial, we will look at some of the reasons Java remains so popular and why it is used in so many software development shops today.

Before we begin, we know that some readers like to supplement their education with online courses. To that end, we have highlighted some of the Top Online Courses to Learn Java to help you get started.

What is the Java Programming Language?

Java began its entry into the world of computer programming back in the summer of 1991, as a language project taken on by a group of software engineers known as the “Green Team”, which consisted of James Gosling (now thought of as the father of Java), Mike Sheridan, and Patrick Naughton.

The trio set out to create a language that could be used to interact and control media devices like televisions and set-top boxes, but their innovations were ahead of their time, and at some point the programming language took on a different purpose. Starting with the name Oak, Java would undergo several name changes and changes, including a switch to Green, before it finally landed as Java while under the realm of Sun Microsystems – a company James Gosling worked for, which later got consumed by Oracle, who oversees development of the language today.

Java was built on the basis of C and C++ and is considered a part of the C-family of programming languages. It shares a similar syntax to C/C++ and, therefore, is easier to learn if you are familiar with those languages, and vice versa.

At its core, class-based (though not truly Object-oriented), high-level, general purpose programming language built on the principles of WORA, which means to write once, run anywhere. In layman’s terms, this means that developers do not need to create new versions of their software for each operating system it will run on. The ability to run on any platform comes courtesy of the Java Virtual Machine – or JVM – which is part of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE).

You can learn more about the Java Virtual Machine in our tutorial: Overview of the JVM.

Benefits of Java Software Development

As stated, Java has consistently sat at the top of the dogpile in terms of most widely used programming languages in the world for quite some time – and with good reason. The language is as powerful as languages like C and Python, but also easier to learn than C++. Below, we will list some of the main benefits of learning how to program in the Java programming language, in no particular order, which include its simplicity, its security, platform-independence, and low-entry cost.

Java is Easy to Learn

As stated, Java is an easy programming language to learn, regardless of whether you are a new developer or a veteran programmer who knows another language. While it does share syntax with C/C++, it was designed to be an easier language to learn, read, maintain, debug, and test. Operations like garbage collection, the use of explicit pointers, and operator overloading were all simplified or removed from Java to streamline the language and make it less complicated.

For instance, in other, comparable languages, the programmer has to worry about garbage collection, which essentially means the developer has to keep track of memory and storage resources being used and ensure they are properly handled. In Java, there is a built-in garbage collector (part of the JRE mentioned earlier) that handles this automatically, freeing up the coder to worry about other tasks and reducing errors from mishandled memory resources.

Despite its ease of use, however, Java can still be considered a middle-ground in terms of learning curve when compared to easier options such as Python, Perl, C#, and Ruby.

One final note: you may have heard of Kotlin. Kotlin was designed as a future replacement for Java and is even simpler to learn and use than Java. Since it was built on the same syntax and principles as Java, it is also interoperable with Java, meaning the two languages (and software created in them) can be intermingled.

You can learn more about Kotlin as a Java alternative in our tutorial: Introduction to Kotlin.

Java is a Class-based Programming Language

You will often hear that Java is an object-oriented programming language (OOP) and built on OOP principles, which makes code more structured, maintainable, and reusable. However, for language purists, this is not quite true, as Java supports the use of primitive types, which are not a feature of OOP languages. However, for all intents and purposes, Java can still be referred to as object-oriented as it still supports OOP concepts such as classes and objects, polymorphism, and inheritance.

Java Platform Independence

One of the most important benefits of programming in Java is the fact that the language is platform-independent, meaning that it can run on any system. Any computer architecture (also known as an operating system, such as Windows or MAC OS) can run Java programs, so long as they support the Java Virtual Machine, discussed above. This is possible because the bytecode Java produces is compiled within the virtual machine so that operating systems can understand it.

In the olden days of languages like Fortran and Cobol, different versions of software would need to be written for different systems. Not having to create a separate codebase for Windows, Mac OS, or Linux saves costs, resources, and time.

Java is Human Readable

Java is a high-level programming language, versus a machine language. This means that the syntax, for the most part, can be viewed by a human and understood without the person needing to know the nuances of code (mostly). That does not mean that a non-programmer can understand every line of your code; it simply means that a developer should be able to read most parts of your codebase and get a jist of what you are trying to accomplish. This is doubly so if you practice proper Java coding best practices, which we always advise.

Multithreading in Java

When a programming language has multithreading as a feature, it means that the programmer can create more than one thread at a time. Think of a thread as a task – the smallest part of a process. Multithreading allows developers to take full advantage of the central processing unit (CPU) so that multiple threads can run concurrently – or, simply put, multiple processes can run at the same time. This makes programs more efficient and faster.

Without the ability to multithread, individual threads can create roadblocks, causing applications to run slower or crash if not handled properly. Instead, with multithreading, these threads can run separately without affecting one another.

You can learn more about multithreading programming concepts by reading our tutorial: Introduction to Multithreading in Java.

Java Interoperability

Interoperability means that a programming language can interact or be used with another language to take advantage of some features that may not be available in the original language. Essentially, you can leverage other languages to extend the functionality of your preferred language. While Java is not natively interoperable with the likes of C and C++ (despite their common syntax), their does exist the JNI, or Java Native Interface, which allows for the writing of native C and C++ methods.

Further, as mentioned previously, Java is interoperable with its “son” Kotlin – and vice versa.

Java is Secure and Stable

Java has been around for quite some time and is an open source programming language, meaning its codebase is viewable and modifiable. It also means that the Java community and the supporters of Java (formerly Sun Microsystems, currently Oracle), have invested an inordinate amount of time testing, fixing, upgrading, and add features to the language. And they continue to do so, as new versions and patches are still released (and will be into the foreseeable future; Java is not going anywhere.)

All of this means that Java is highly stable and also secure; developers and software development companies can rest assured that their programs will function properly, provided they code correctly.

Another thing that makes Java so secure is the fact that Java avoids the use of explicit pointers, which can be taken advantage of by nefarious users who want to gain unauthorized access to a system’s memory; the removal of these explicit pointers removes this particular threat completely. In addition, Java has a built-in security manager feature that lets programmers define access rules (and access in general) to classes.

Java Code Example

Discussing a programming language’s learnability and readability is one thing, but seeing actual code is another. Here are a few code examples that show what programming in Java really looks like.

Our first example shows how to create a class in Java whose function is to print out some text to the user’s screen. This example is the classic “Hello, World!” example, which is the equivalent of learning Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water on guitar; it is the first thing programmer’s typically learn how to do and is considered a Right of Passage.

Here is the code:

// This is how you comment your code in Java
//This is known as a single-line comment
class HelloWorldExample
{
	// Every Java program starts with a call to main()
	public static void main(String args[])
	{
	// println() is a function that is used to print text
	System.out.println(“Hello, World”);
	}
}

Running this code in your integrated development environment (IDE) or code editor would result in the following output:

Hello, World

The above code example is a very basic task in Java. For something more complex, here is an example of using something known as a for loop, which is an iterator that essentially repeats a block code until a certain condition is met. This example used a counter that adds 1 to itself each pass through the loop. Once the counter is equal to 10, the loop exits and the regular flow of the program continues. This means that the code within the loop will execute ten times.

Here is a code example showing how to use a for loop in Java:

// Java program showing how to use a for loop
class ExampleForLoop {
	public static void main(String[] argos)
	{
	\ will loop 10 times and each time print out the current value of the counter
	for (int i = 1; i < = 10; i++) {
		}
	}
    }
}

Running the above code would result in the following output being printed to the user’s screen:

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

By comparison, here is how you would create the same two programs using the Python programming language.

”Hello, World” program in Python:

print(“Hello, World”)

As you can see, this is much easier in Python and more readable, though not that much more complicated, though it does take fewer lines.

Again, the result would be:

Hello, World

For Loop example in Python

for i in range(1, 10):
    print(i)

This example code results in the same output as its Java counterpart:

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

You can learn more about output in Java by reading our tutorial: Java Output Basics.

You can learn more about the differences between Python and Java in our tutorial: Python vs Java: Comparing Programming Languages.

Get the Free Newsletter!

Subscribe to Developer Insider for top news, trends & analysis

Latest Posts

Related Stories