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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 skills find value everywhere Android goes -- TVs, refrigerators, you name it. With that kind of traction, it's hard to see demand for Java developers waning anytime soon.

Strength: Java continues to evolve
Java may be perceived as the programming language your grandparents cut their teeth on, but Java is only 19 years old, and it is by no means standing still. The platform continues to add new features, such as the inclusion of lambda capabilities in the standard edition of Java 8 earlier this year. Java 9, due in 2016, will feature modularity, JSON APIs, and much more.

"Java the language is a little behind the times, but with the addition of closures (lambdas) in Java 8, modularity and native function calls in Java 9, and hopefully features like co-routines and tail calls soon, I think it can hold its own versus other systems-level languages," says Charles Nutter, a key proponent of JRuby, which puts the Ruby language on the JVM. (JRuby is one of many new language options on the JVM, furthering the platform.)

Java EE (Enterprise Edition) 8 is also in the works and is expected to focus on supporting the latest Web standards, ease of development, and cloud support.

Strength: Java developers are in great demand

People with Java-related skills are a hot commodity in the job market. A recent search for "Java" on the Dice.com tech job website turned up more than 17,000 opportunities. A Dice.com report in May concluded that Java development was the most desired software-building skill by a wide margin.

"For a programming language that started to be commercialized about 20 years ago, its stranglehold on modern development is unshakable," Dice.com President Shravan Goli said then.

With employment a paramount concern to everyone, the abundance of Java jobs will keep the language and platform in vogue. Critics suggest that Java development has mostly gone offshore and Java developers earn less than other developers, but it's hard to see any lack of opportunity in the United States based on Dice.com's listings and data.

Challenge: Security issues have tainted Java's reputation
Security problems in Java have been an anchor around the neck of the platform in recent years, with Java in browsers a critical concern.

Vulnerabilities in Java were used to carry out attacks in 2013 against Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter, among others. Oracle, to its credit, has tried to be diligent in issuing patches, including a notable Java update that covered 42 vulnerabilities.

But the security backlash against Java has been loud, with calls to get rid of Java, if only on the client. Oracle has argued that older versions of Java have been the principal culprits when it comes to security. But this is one downside of ubiquity: Older versions are likely to persist somewhere.

 

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