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4 reasons to stick with Java -- and 4 reasons to dump it

Paul Krill | Oct. 1, 2014
The enterprise mainstay has proved resilient in the face of many challenges -- but just how long can it remain a premier programming language?

Java remains a critical technology that attracts intense interest and passion, as testified by the droves of developers gathered in San Francisco this week for JavaOne, the industry's major event dedicated to the language.

But for all its advances and momentum, a troubling series of negatives has challenged Java's dominance and resiliency of late, including hits to its security reputation, the rise of JavaScript on the server, the plethora of new languages competing for developer attention, and questions about possible fallout from Oracle's legal actions against Google.

Of course, Java will persist despite all setbacks, but when it comes to career choices, little comfort can be found in the fact that somewhere on some server Java code will always be running. The questions center on the promise of the prospects and whether a language on the wane may be the best bet.

Following are reasons why Java should remain a premier software platform for years to come and why it might soon decline.

Strength: Java is a staple of enterprise computing
Nothing says long-lasting like being found everywhere, and that's Java's greatest asset. Its near ubiquity will keep it around for many years to come.

Anecdotal evidence suggests 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies use Java, IDC analyst Al Hilwa says.

RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady agrees. "I expect Java to be with us for a long time to come, much as its detractors might wish otherwise," he says. "It has substantial traction in enterprise applications, big data, mobile, and so on." Even if Java is not as popular as it once was, it remains "enormously popular," O'Grady says.

Scott Sellers, president and CEO of JVM technology vendor Azul Systems, sees nothing less than a seismic shift required to doom Java to irrelevance.

"Given the prevalence of Java and the 10 million [Java] programmers that exist today and its widespread use, something will have to come along that is significantly better to cause people to change," Sellers says, noting the wide variety of open source libraries and frameworks based on Java. "There's a huge amount of momentum behind it."

It's little wonder then why Java always is at or near the top in monthly programming language popularity indexes.

Strength: Java anchors Android apps development
The many Apple iPhone and iPad fans may not like this cold reality, but Google's Android mobile platform is the No. 1 mobile platform in the world. To build apps for Android, developers predominantly use their Java skills and the Dalvik VM.

Android captured nearly 62 percent of tablet sales worldwide last year, followed by Apple's iOS with a 36 percent share, according to Gartner. Android had nearly 82 percent of the smartphone market worldwide in the second quarter of this year based on sales, with iOS trailing with 11.7 percent, according to IDC.


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