Long Live Java (Why Falling Usage Numbers Don’t Spell the End of the Language)

Over the past five years, many experts have weighed in on the fate of the Java programming language. As one of the oldest programming languages still in use today, Java is viewed by many as a legacy language with few applications in modern software development.

However, the predictions of Java’s demise could not be further from the truth. Fortune 500 companies, tech startups, and dedicated Java development services are all using the language to build exciting programs for Android phones, the Internet of Things (IoT), and server-side applications.

Is Java Doomed?

One of the arguments that experts often give for declaring Java a dead language is its falling TIOBE index rankings. The popular software ranking standard recently assigned Java a ”C.”

The language’s score was dropped because of its poor code coverage, weak security protections, and lackluster coding standards. In addition, the language is slowly falling in software developer polls which ask developers to rank the languages that they work with.

It is true that Java is declining both in terms of popularity and the number of active developers using the language in the field.

However, this decline is less about Java’s usefulness as a language and more about an increase in competitors. The sheer amount of options available to developers means that every major programming language has lost market share among developers over the past year, with the exception of the extremely popular Python language.

While Java’s overall usage numbers are expected to keep declining over the next several years, Java is far from dead. Expect to see it continue to dominate in Android, IoT, and back-end development over the next decade.

How Java Will Shape the Future

Java may not be the most popular programming language used today, but it continues to be an important asset for some of the most important technologies of the future–namely the IoT and back-end development.

These thankless roles are rarely seen by the public, but they are essential to the technologies that consumers are most excited about.

Android Applications

Java, along with its relative Kotlin, is key to Android development. Independent research has found that an estimated 46.2% of Android apps developed in the last four months were written with Java.

Some of the most popular apps built with Java are Spotify, Twitter, Signal, and Cash App. Each of these are market leaders in their respective fields–and they chose Java because of the language’s stability and unique features.

Android developers and associated Java development companies love the language because of its object-oriented development approach, which makes programming a simple and straightforward process.

They also love the extensive libraries found in the Java ecosystem. These allow developers to reuse trusted code and make the entire development process simple. They also reduce the total number of errors and make the software more secure.

That’s why is expected for Java to continue to be one of the most important languages in the Android development community. While the popular alternative Kotlin will continue to gain market share over the next five years, Java will remain the go-to choice for many organizations.

The Internet of Things

IoT is one of the most exciting technological developments of the past decade. This network of internet-connected devices is allowing many futuristic technologies to become a reality.

Today, IoT devices are currently being used in millions of households across America. Smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo allow homeowners to access the internet, find information, set reminders, and change their home settings with just the push of a button.

In the future, the IoT will enable things like self-driving cars to become widespread. That’s because internet-connected sensors on cars, roads, and traffic grids will soon be able to communicate with one another and drive through town more safely.

Java is key for the IoT because it is platform-independent. This means that code written in Java will perform flawlessly on any device, no matter what operating system it uses. This is a crucial advantage since many IoT devices use different operating systems. Java allows developers to write a single snippet of code for all IoT technologies.

In addition, Java is a very stable language. It was first released in 1995 and continues to enjoy institutional support from Oracle, one of the largest and most respected tech companies in the world. This allows companies to build out their IoT offerings using a single language that they can trust.

Finally, Java has a strong suite of IoT-specific libraries, like Oracles IoT Cloud Service, IBM Watson IoT, and Microsoft Azure IoT, which makes development for this cutting-edge technology a simple proposition. It also makes code more secure and reduces the number of human errors. 

Back-end Development

Perhaps Java’s strongest capability is in back-end development. Companies of all sizes, including specialized Java development outsourcing firms, use Java to build their server-side applications.

The language is regularly used to build the back-end of powerful web and desktop applications, such as the LMAX stock trading program.

Again, Java’s platform independence is a major reason why so many back-end developers prize the language. They know that they can write a single set of code for their program and trust that Java will work perfectly across any operating system.

It is also an extremely easy language to learn and use. Oracle’s chief Java architect has remarked that “the core values of the language, and the platform, are readability and simplicity.”

Experts believe that Java will continue to dominate the back-end development field over the next decade or more since no major alternative, outside of Node.js, has emerged in years.

Looking Forward

Java is a dying language. At least, that’s what many programming experts believe. Yet, the popular programming language has never been more useful than it is today.

Companies of all sizes are using Java to build powerful Android apps, server-side applications, and IoT software. In addition, because the IoT is just beginning to expand, Java is likely to undergo a renaissance once the IoT becomes widespread.

It’s clear that predictions of Java’s demise were overblown and premature. While the language, like most other programming languages, will experience a decline in usage numbers over the next five years, its usefulness for the IoT, mobile, and back-end development means that it is here to stay.