The Pros and Cons of using Java?
Java is one of the most universally used programming languages in the world. It is general-purpose, meaning the code written in Java can be used across a variety of application domains. This differs from domain-specific programming languages that are targeted towards applications of a particular domain such as database query language, e.g. SQL. Java was developed by Sun Microsystems, now Oracle Corporation as an advanced alternative for the C++ language that was user-friendly, portable, and pre-programmed with automated memory management. It uses the Write Once Run Anywhere (WORA) principle i.e. once compiled, a Java code can run on all devices supporting Java application without the need for recompilation. Java offers developers an integrated system consisting of everything they need to create programs which include:
Java Development Kit (JDK) – As the name suggests, the toolkit offers resources to developers for adding features to a Java application. It was released by Oracle for Java developers working on Solaris, Linux, macOS, and Windows. It is an open-source, i.e. free software.
Java Runtime Environment (JRE) – It’s a collection of components that enable the computer to run Java programs. The JRE is comprised of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and the Java Class Library (JCL).
Integrated Development Environment (IDE) – These are the basic tools that aid developers to run, edit, and compile the code. Examples of such tools include NetBeans and Eclipse.
The official language of Android OS, at the time of its launch in 2008, was Java (succeeded by Kotlin in 2017). As per GitHub Java continues to be one of the most popular programming languages in the world. Since its release in 1995, Java has come a long way and proven its value for money in mainstream applications. What features lend it this air of invincibility, let us find out.
Features of Java
Pros of Java
Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)
Java is designed on OOP tenets. In procedural programming, the code follows a specific sequence of instructions. The code uses variables and functions for the same. But is OOP the same variables and functions can be grouped as per their context. It allows you to define the data and its structure as well as the functions acting on it. It can be said, that in OOP, data structures are referred to as objects which can be designed to create relationships with other objects. The main advantages that this approach gives you is:
- Information could be locked or hidden, denying access when necessary.
- Objects of other programs can be reused.
- Programs can be built in an organized manner whose maintenance is simple.
An OOP language allows developers to simulate real-world conditions, represented by data points in a computer program.
Java is a high-level language
Programming languages could high-level or low level. High-Level Languages (HLL) allows a coder to write programs independent of the machine type. Examples of it, in addition to Java, include Fortran and Pascal. An HLL’s source code has an easy to understand syntax. At runtime, this syntax is converted to a low-level so that the CPU can compile the code and process the program. Being an HLL, Java requires compilers and interpreters which makes it a tad slow against the likes of C++ but still faster than modern languages like Python. Students with a basic understanding of classes, frameworks, packages, and objects would find it easier to learn Java.
Enterprise Application Development
Java provides one of the best resources for building enterprise-grade applications. In large scale projects with long timelines, the source code undergoes a lot of modifications that can be easily done in Java. It supports millions of libraries, which act as the foundation for any application. This allows for wider developmental options to create functions. Java can be easily integrated with the majority of hosting platforms and is relatively cheaper to maintain as it is machine-independent and can be run on any type of server. Being in the market for so long, it has a wide online community to exchange ideas with.
A general notion surrounding Java is that it is secure which is not true. It is not inherently secure, but some of its characteristics do not allow common security flaws to emerge as easily. For instance, unlike C, Java doesn’t have pointers. Pointers are objects that contain memory addresses. If an unwanted actor/hacker gains access to such a pointer, they could exploit the loophole and cause immeasurable damage. The Security Manager feature of Java allows the applications to be run in a “Sandbox” environment. It ensures that the system supporting the application stays safe.
It was advertised at the time of launch as a Write Once Run Anywhere, WORA language. It means you can develop a Java program on one device, compile the program into a standard bytecode, and run it on any device with the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). This marked a sea-change effect in I.T as all the chips, devices, and software packages of the time started pre-installing the Java interpreter. To this day, Linux, Mac OS, and Windows, all support JVM.
Java allows data sharing and communication between multiple computers for faster efficiency. Its protocol is based on Remote Method invocation. With other programming languages, engineers might have to design APIs that enable data exchange between two devices. But with Java applications can interact with one another over distribute machines also retaining all the characteristics offered with Java. It also supports Socket programming, which facilitates information flow between applications on different Java Runtime Environments (JRE).
Automatic Memory Management
Often, when developers run a programme, they face problems of memory shortage. Usually, programmers working in other languages have to manually write the code for managing and allocating memory to the program. Forgetting to do so could result in lag during runtime. This does not happen with Java as it has Automatic Memory Management with garbage collection. The collector searches for objects that the program has stopped referencing to and deletes them automatically. Furthermore, the developers can optimize garbage collection to mitigate CPU performance issues.
A thread is a series of statements to be executed in a program. It is the smallest unit of a program that could be processed. The efficiency of a CPU is determined by the number of threads that it runs over a specified period. Java allows the CPU time to be optimized by running multiple threads simultaneously by a process called multithreading. Since a program is a collection of such threads, and they have limited memory to operate within, switching between them could cause a lag at runtime. But that issue is resolved with multithreading.
Shortcomings of Java
When it comes to technology, there is no perfection to be gained, but the only improvement. Java, like other programming languages, has a few bugs (pun intended) that might cause a degree of irritation in tech-rationalists. Let us understand what they are:
Paid-for Oracle Support
Java SE 14 is the latest version release of the language as of writing. Before that, it was Java SE 11.0.7. simply called Java (LTS). Using Java itself is free, wherein Oracle offers short-term support to organizations. Beginning with Java 11, Oracle offers types of JDKs, one is the open-source variant a.k.a. OpenJDK and the other is the commercial-grade Oracle JDK that is licensed. Oracle supports OpenJDK for six months. If customers want to use Java for free along with long-term support, they have to opt for an open-source variant from a different vendor such as IBM, Red Hat, AWS, or Azul. Yet, being finicky, if a business decides to stick to Oracle, then they must evaluate the expenditure to be incurred in the long-run.
Performance issues tend to surface with HLLs as they have a complex architectural structure. It is no surprise then that Java is relatively slow at runtime. Add to that the perplexity of the garbage collector, which if consumes more than 20% of the CPU time begins to slow program execution. There is another factor outside of the garbage collector that could be contributing to excessive memory usage and that is poorly managed cache configuration. When multiple threads attempt to access the same resource, it results in a thread dreadlock and ultimately Out-of-Memory errors. Together, such issues pose annoying but manageable challenges for programmers.
Front End Options
If there is one department Java is technically short on, that is creating appealing Graphical User Interfaces for the desktop. Therefore, software developers rely on GUI builders such as JavaFX, Swing, JSF and SWT. Various Java IDEs, such as Eclipse and NetBeans comes integrated with Swing as it is cross-platform. Yet, even while using such templates, UI-inconsistencies continue to be visible. JavaFX adds a touch of modernity yet is far from looking mature. Similarly, SWT is not suited to meet complex UI demands. Designing high-end user interfaces are and continue to be a bottleneck for Java coders.
As emphasized earlier, the High-Level Language features of Java make it more complex to read and scan. The precision levels coding in Java requires one to define exactly what they want the program to output. But such detailing adds to the volume of source-code even for simple executions. Modern-day languages like Python, do away with the clutter of details and have made it easier for programmers to define their inputs in simple, crisp codes. But this appears to be an ever-present pain-point of java which the majority of its fan base has gotten used to.
There is no doubt in the fact that proficiency in Java automatically translates into better – earning opportunities for professionals. For instance, Android was unveiled with Java as its official language, which is not the case anymore as Google wants its Kotlin to compete with Apple’s Swift. Yet, the overwhelming majority of Android applications continue to be built in Java. Not just that, Gmail was created in Java. The finance industry heavily deploys the use of Java as the language for data simulation and visualization. The open-source big data software Apache Hadoop is written in Java. To sum it up, picking Java as a career choice is more than just a safe option, it is a decision that practically assures individuals of achieving career-highs.