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Java - What is it ?



What is Java ?

Obviously the one which I am talking about is not an island in Indonesia, not a kind of coffee. It is about a computer programming language.

Then, What is Java Programming Language ? You would find many different variations of answers to this question and I don't want to add another variations of mine here. Instead, I would quote two answers from welknown sources.


Oracle (Official provider of Java platform now) Java page defines Java as follows :


Java is a programming language and computing platform first released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. There are lots of applications and websites that will not work unless you have Java installed, and more are created every day. Java is fast, secure, and reliable. From laptops to datacenters, game consoles to scientific supercomputers, cell phones to the Internet, Java is everywhere!



Wikipedia(Java Programming Language) defines Java as follows :


Java is a general-purpose computer programming language that is concurrent, class-based, object-oriented and specifically designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible. It is intended to let application developers "write once, run anywhere" (WORA), meaning that compiled Java code can run on all platforms that support Java without the need for recompilation. Java applications are typically compiled to bytecode that can run on any Java virtual machine (JVM) regardless of computer architecture. As of 2016, Java is one of the most popular programming languages in use, particularly for client-server web applications, with a reported 9 million developers.Java was originally developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems (which has since been acquired by Oracle Corporation) and released in 1995 as a core component of Sun Microsystems' Java platform. The language derives much of its syntax from C and C++, but it has fewer low-level facilities than either of them.




Why Java ?


There are so many kinds of Programming Language out there. Why we want to learn / use Java ? Of course, there wouldn't be any single answer that holds true for everybody. You may ask somebody around you who are using Java. From my observation and personal experience, I think I can list up a couple of main reason / motivation to go with Java.

  • Write once, Run Anywhere (WORA) : This would be one of the biggest reasons for developing various kinds of commerical software. The fundamental idea is that once they develop a software on a specific platform (e.g, on Windows), they can easily port it to other platforms (e.g, Linux) without rewriting the source code for each of the platform. Based on my experience, this kind of cross-platform feature does not go as smoothly as I imagined but at least it is easier than rewriting the source code and sound fancy :)
  • Most Powerful tool to Web based Program : Now (as of 2018) there are many different programs that can run on top of Web browser like JavaScript, PHP, ASP, CGI and even HTML itself get to have pretty powerful programming capability from HTML 5. However, around the time when Java first came out (like late 1990's), Java and CGI were the only tools that can add some programming capabilties on top of Web browser. At those time, Java were the only tools that can provide full programming capabilities (database operation, GUI development feature etc) since CGI were mostly limited to database connectivity.
  • Tool for learning a Programming Languag  : When I first learn programming in early 90's, the most common tool for learning programming language was BASIC and then move to C. and no concept of OOP (Object Oriented Programming). But now, the majority of programming language is based on OOP whether you notice it or not. Java is designed for OOP from the beginning and seems to be easier to write OOP based program comparing to C++ (you may have different opinion for this, but your opinion would also be true whatever it is).
  • Large Community : Since there are so many users and a lot of them shares their knowledge / experience / tips on internet including my note as well :), you would find the solution to most of the questions / problems that you have with a few mouse clicks.




Is it still popular ?


I haven't searched any formal statistics on the popularity of programming languages. Just out of curiosity and for fun, I've checkd Google Trend this morning (Jan 11, 2018) and got the plot as shown below.

Do you start losing the appetite for Java ? :).

Don't get disappointed. As shown here, the overall attention is slowly decreasing but I don't think it is because there is any inherent problem with the language. I think it is because there are many of other launguages is taking over some functionalities that used to be provided mainly by Java. However, I think a lot of large scale commercial software will be based on Java. If you are just enterring into computer programming world and ask me to recommend you only one or two computer language, I would recommend you Java or C/C++. With enough experience with Java or C/C++, you would be able to move to other languages very easily, but the other way around would not always be easy.