This is the whole environment around the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and today we are going to discuss only its small part. Remember that your project could be case-specific and not match all elements that we are going to cover in this article.
Long story short
Java was introduced in 1995 by Sun Microsystem. The main goals for developers were to create a language that will be easy, secure, and independent of architecture. During those days, object-oriented programming (OOP) was one of those hot buzzwords in IT.
To better understand what that means, let me quickly elaborate on that:
Easy – Java was designed as a language with simple and friendly syntax. Moreover, this language should be easy to extend in the future on the syntactic level and operational ways;
Secure – in this case, the language should avoid „magic”. Everything should be explicit and obvious. All operations that happen in the CPU should be reflected in the source code;
Architecture independence – software should not be dependent on CPU and OS architecture. Any constructions in the code should be architecture-agnostic, the language should not contain any constructions that behave differently on different machines.
These assumptions imply that the language should run on some kind of a virtual machine (VM) that separates Java programs from the runtime environment. This suggests that the VM should be high-performant itself. Finally, this entails that the VM should support some kind of multithreading and work in dynamic and interpreted mode. Remember, that was 1995.
After 27 years, we know that Java and JVM achieved those goals, but, on the other hand, we need to bear the cost of certain decisions and make some concessions. In this article, I would like to discuss how Java can support your business and when you should choose a different technology, like Ruby.
Java’s stable road to stable business
When we start a new business, we have many ways to support our development in IT-related aspects such as buying software from an existing company. These boxed solutions are designed for generic usage within their scope. Text editors, spreadsheets, operating systems are the best examples of that kind of software. Our decisions depend on our finances, personal preferences and/or software compatibility. Sometimes we are forced to buy a given piece of software because it is a professional standard or it has the required certificates.
Another way is to outsource software preparation which would be based on existing solutions. A very good example of this is building a website, e-commerce or mailing list. Your vendor customizes the existing software and provides you with a solution that matches your needs.
However, there is one more way. We can develop software from scratch. Of course, nobody expects that you will create a software development division in your company. Nowadays there are many ways to find solutions matching your needs such as outsourcing java developers or choosing cooperation with a software development company.
Where does Java come in here?
When you pick the last option, one of the most important decisions that you need to make is your technology stack. Even if you are not technical, it is good to know how technology affects the future of your business.
That means something more. During all those years, Java introduced or adopted many standards that evolved into professional standards. So if you would like to create a professional business that is focused on cooperation with many other companies, Java offers ready-to-go solutions for those integrations.
Maturity is not the only tool in the toolbox that should be full of useful, ready-to-use solutions. It also involved stability and well-defined processes. For a good reason, authors of many books about good practices, modern software development, and software design patterns use Java as the main language for their examples. The strong theoretical background of software development in Java world is one of its biggest benefits. Even developers at the beginning of their career have a substantive background and many sources of knowledge regarding Java. A wealth of educational material, tutorials, courses and an overall high level of Java-related documentation gives you a solid base to build stable solutions. Vendors and then maintainers almost always can find solutions and help you out.
Last but not least, maturity does not mean that libraries and solutions are pretty much abandoned. Many projects are actively developed and maintained. That has two main advantages. First, all those projects are up-to-date when it comes to security. The best example here are the last log4j issues. Many Java’s independent developers and OSS organizations quickly updated their software. Moreover, the log4j team has released patches in a matter of a few days. And we talk here about a library that is actively maintained over the course of 20 years. The second thing is being up-to-date with modern solutions. For example, the Spring Framework supported GraphQL since that technology has had official specification.
Java’s COBOL of the 21st century
But not everything is golden in the Java world. Stability and maturity of Java have a cost. When we do business, one of the most important metrics is time to market. Processes allow us to quickly deliver a new software version to our customers, but Java as a language has some limitations for making very deep changes in our business idea.
Pivoting, delivering POC (proof of concept) or rebuilding software from scratch in each iteration is not something that Java is good for. There are better solutions that run on JVM, like Kotlin or Clojure languages, that work fine in those cases. Why? We need to recall the beginning of this article. Java is 27 years old. Some concepts of software development that were valid in mid-90s do not match today’s needs. Some of them even did not exist back then. Who knew about mobile games with geopositioning (Pokémon GO)? But for such instances, we have modern languages that I mentioned before.
Maturity of a language implies maturity of applications. A threat to business are all the costs around HR and employee acquisition. It is more difficult to find people who work with legacy code, especially as such work requires greater involvement at the cognitive level. As a developer, I need to understand the business process and how the code describes it. Moreover, I need to recreate the mindset of the author of the code. It is hard and not everyone likes it. Additional costs here are a direct employment cost.
Finally, there is quite a big group of developers who do not want to learn “old technology”. That means that your plans for internal staff training in initiatives such as professional development programs for beginners could be hard to carry out. But there are many Java development companies that will provide you with top support or help you outsource Java developers.
If you are struggling with finding Java developers make sure to check our article on that topic here.
Java is a mature and stable solution that helps to develop a business. This is not a silver bullet that can solve all your problems, but thanks to the entire ecosystem that has formed over the years we can deliver high-quality software. This is a living and vital environment that brings people together.