Software engineers are not just application programmers; they are supposed to build and structure products for clients that meet their expectations, provide the features they need and be supported by strong backup. Java is one smart solution to lay the foundation for such robust utilities, and it allows developers to be efficient, effective and innovative – without having to reinvent the wheel.
The History of Java Programming
In the earliest computers, logic was derived from numbers in the form of punch cards, so there wasn't any need for programming languages. But, as technology advanced, the need arose for a programming medium that was both comprehensive in its approach and sophisticated to use. This gave rise to language platforms, in which programmers could write their logic (code). Initially, low-level languages were used. Commonly referred to as assembly languages, they could be easily interpreted by machines in the form of zeros and ones, which represented negative and positive logic, respectively. (Read more about the history of programming languages in Computer Programming: From Machine Language to Artificial Intelligence.)
It wasn't long before people realized that they could not write flexible and reliable code using those platforms. As a result, software developers advanced toward languages that consisted of meta statements, processor instructions in a comparatively more human-readable form, comments and other data. Next, the imperative languages came into picture, such as COBOL and FORTRAN. This was followed by the era of authoring and command-line languages, which provided a more abstracted layer of interface for the developers to code. This was followed by the emergence of iterative, list-based and logic-based languages.
But the languages that really made a splash and carved a niche for themselves in the programming arena were functional and object-oriented languages. They not only continue to survive in almost every domain, but have proved to be the strongest players. Java was presented to the world of software development in 1991 by a team of Sun engineers. Java's strength and versatility allowed it permeate the World Wide Web and act as a major force in many of the utilities upon which we now rely on a day-to-day basis.
The Object-Oriented Face of Java
In earlier times, writing code for developing applications was, essentially, rocket science. There were very few people who could actually write programs that were useful and functional. The concept of object-oriented languages changed that by allowing programming to be related and to map to real-world entities in terms of actors and actions. The object-oriented paradigm of software programming encompasses all the features of object-oriented languages. These include:
- Polymorphism: One general interface acts as a multiple class of actions. It is usually seen in the case of methods in Java.
- Inheritance: Promotes code re-usability and building stronger subsystems on top of existing structures
- Encapsulation: Binding the code and data together to keep it safe from outside interference and prevent information abuse
- Abstraction: Intrinsic details are hidden with an interface-based layer for users. This removes the concern for deep diving into lower-level information pertaining to the system.
These features are more or less common to all the languages that follow or support the object-oriented model. However, the degree to which they conform to the above specifications is what sets them apart from their counterparts. The way they can be modulated and work in favor of both the developer and the end users is something that matters a lot.
Why Is Java so Popular?
Apart from its standard features, Java comes packed with some extremely useful capabilities that distinguish it from the other languages. Java is:
- Portable: Code written in Java can be taken from one computer to the other without having to worry about system configuration details.
- Robust: Java supports reliable exception handling that can withstand all the major types of erroneous and exception conditions without breaking the system.
- Secure: Upon compilation, source code written in Java gets compiled into bytecode, which is later interpreted by the Java Virtual Machine. Bytecode is resistant to tampering by external agents.
- Platform Independent: Most of the systems have a built-in Java Runtime Environment, the only prerequisite for running an application that has been designed in Java. As a result, no setups or dependencies have to be injected into a system before executing a Java app.
- Self-Memory Managed: The coder does not have to be concerned about the memory logistics, allocation and de-allocation of objects. JVM looks after it.
- High Performance: Both in terms of memory and efficiency, Java has proved itself to be immaculate. Earlier in its history, the bytecode interpretation was considered to be an additional responsibility of the compiler, which demanded intensive processing and memory consumption. But, with the advancement of virtual machines, there is just in time (JIT) compilation, which provides both high speed and high performance.
- Multithreading: Synchronization and multitasking come as a complimentary gift thanks to Java's multithreading features. These are particularly useful in multimedia and other real-time applications.
- Support for Networking: With each release, the community of developers who contribute in Java development come up with highly advanced and sophisticated APIs and libraries, These are available as ready-to-use packages to build reliable and strong network systems
Not Perfect, But the Best We've Got
Of course, despite Java's benefits and popularity, it isn't a perfect language. Critics have pointed out some weaknesses in the Java framework as compared to other object-oriented languages. Unlike them, Java is not a very reliable choice in system programming because it does not expose the lower-level hardware details to the developers. But despite its flaws, no other language matches up to Java in terms of flexibility and seamless integration with other frameworks and technologies.