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What is the Java programming language?

Java can be used cross-platform to build almost any type of software-- all it needs to run is a Java Virtual Machine. Let's learn more!

Jun 08, 2023 • 5 Minute Read

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  • Software Development
  • java

In this post from our Programming Languages for the Cloud series, we’ll get into Java, one of the most popular programming languages in the world! Java can be used cross-platform to build almost any type of software, owing to its maturity, incredible versatility, and the fact that all it needs to run is a Java Virtual Machine. Get ready to learn all about Java, including its applications for cloud computing!

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History of Java

In 1991, James Gosling (aka “Dr. Java”) initially started building the Java language to use with interactive cable television. The language was first called Oak, then Green, and then finally, Java. Version 1.0 was released in 1996. Java was developed to “write once, run anywhere,” or WORA. This means that Java was designed to run on any platform that had a Java Virtual Machine installed to execute the program. Today, Java is able to run on your desktop, inside data centers, on smartphones, in gaming consoles, and even on supercomputers! 

What can I use Java for?

Java can be used to build almost any type of software:

  • Cross-platform application building

Java is a mature and versatile object-oriented language that can be used cross-platform for applications ranging from desktop, to web, to mobile. 

  • Run embedded code

Java can run embedded code on custom devices as well as within large enterprise applications. Popular applications like Adobe Acrobat Reader and are developed using Java, as are a whopping 2.5 million Android apps! You might say that Java is the caffeine that makes those bits and bytes work a little harder. 

  • Cloud computing

No surprise here: Java is also used extensively for cloud computing applications. AWS, Azure, and GCP all give Java first-class adoption as a major language.

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Why is Java so popular?

Java is consistently one of the three most popular programming languages. Over 60% of Java developers use it exclusively despite the wealth of other excellent languages available. What makes so many developers loyal to Java? Let’s find out:

  • Breadth

Java runs through a Java Virtual Machine (JVM), which is available on a ton of different platforms. You write one version of the code for all platforms and then the JVM takes your code and interprets it correctly to meet the specific needs of each platform. 

  • Versatility

Almost any application can be written in Java. Want a mobile application? Done! How about a large enterprise-scale backbone integration? Sure. Or perhaps a custom component for a website that connects to your secure system? Java has you covered. 

  • Ease of implementation

All Java needs to run is a JVM (Java Virtual Machine), which is found on nearly every platform these days.

  • Community

Java has the largest developer community in the world, with some 14 million active developers. There's always a friendly face to ask for help if you get stuck.

Why should I learn Java?

Java is mature, extensively used, and works for almost any type of application. Plus, cloud platforms love Java, so if you're building in the cloud, Java is a sure bet.

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The 2020 Stack Overflow Developer Survey puts the average Java developer salary in the US at $120k a year, just above the average for other developer salaries. 

If you want to learn a language that works with a breadth of product platforms, offers versatility in its implementation, and provides access to a huge community, then Java is a top choice. 
Thanks for joining us for this cup of Java! Look out for more installments from our Programming Languages for the Cloud series. In the meantime, start your ACG free trial or check out this month’s free cloud training. You can also subscribe to A Cloud Guru on YouTube for weekly cloud news, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and join the conversation on Discord.