What Is Java Used For?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Companies across the globe use Java to build the applications and websites they offer their consumers. Learning this programming language means you’ve completed one of the prerequisites that could qualify you for a career in software or app development.

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Java is a platform-independent, object-oriented programming language (OOP). It is not to be confused with JavaScript, a scripting language used to create dynamic web pages. Due to its reliability and ease of use, Java is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. It's likely to be one of the first programming languages you encounter as an aspiring application developer.

Tasks commonly performed with Java

A significant benefit to Java is the wide range of tasks it can be used to perform. It is highly beneficial for tasks and projects requiring both high performance and quick turnaround. Here are a few of the most common tasks for which Java is best suited:

  • Building and running mobile applications

  • Building and scaling cloud applications

  • Developing chatbots and other marketing tools

  • Powering enterprise-level web applications

  • Supporting artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) devices

What are the features of Java?

Several Java features can be attributed to the simplicity, security, and portability of the language. The following list outlines nine of these key features.

Robust: Java places emphasis on helping users achieve error-free programming. One example of a process that supports this goal is runtime checking (RTC). RTC automatically detects and alerts users to runtime errors.

Simple: Java is designed to be easy to learn. With the proper training and practice, it can also be easy to master. Its combination of automatic and structurally stable processes enables novice developers to build applications relatively easily.

Object-oriented: Everything is seen as an object in the Java programming language. Each object belongs to a class and is uniquely characterized by its identity, state, and behavior.

Multithreaded: Java programs and applications benefit from its multithreaded nature. The multithreading process enables you to run programs separately yet execute them simultaneously. Additionally, threads share a common memory area, reducing the load on the central processing unit (CPU).

Secure: The secure nature of the Java programming language is one of its most lauded features. By default, Java provides several layers of security that enable you as a developer to create and run virus-free coding environments. Security components include Java having no explicit pointer, the separation of local and imported class packages by the classloader, and the compilation of Java programs into bytecode, to name a few.

Platform-independent: Java sets itself apart from other programming languages by being a language that, once written, can run on any platform. With Java, there is no need for you to write separate code for Mac, Linux, or Windows. Instead, Java is a software-based language. Its code is compiled, converted into bytecode, then executed on any platform of your choosing.

Portable: This feature goes hand-in-hand with Java’s platform independence and is related to the ability to execute the language’s bytecode on any platform without implementation.

Architecturally neutral: Java is said to be architecturally neutral because its bytecode interpreter can be employed on any platform. Code is free of dependencies and variants, and instructions from Java code are not directly executed onto the platform it is running on.

Distributed: Java employs a distributed language system that allows you to securely move and access code between different machines. This makes Java fully compatible with any programming environment. It also simultaneously enables it to support high bandwidth requirements, reduce latency, and increase output.

The benefits of learning to code with Java

Learning to code with Java can make you a more competitive candidate for programming roles. A few more benefits of learning to code with Java include:

  • Java is one of the simplest programming languages to learn and typically can be mastered in a shorter period of time than other languages.

  • There are countless online resources to learn Java, free and paid.

  • Everything from application servers to enterprise applications can be built with Java, making it a high-demand skill in the world of programming and software development.

  • Employment of software developers is projected to grow by 25 percent between 2022 and 2032, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) [1].

  • Java’s popularity continues to grow among leading brands.

The most common challenges associated with learning Java

Here are a few challenges you may encounter should you decide to learn the Java programming language:

  • Finding the time to dedicate to learning Java

  • Navigating the aspects of learning and understanding programming

  • Memorizing the many types and layers of protocols, interfaces, rules, and other internal mechanisms

If you’re new to programming or software development, you may want to carefully consider how you will manage these challenges.

Real-world examples: Companies that use Java

There is no shortage of companies or brands that use Java to power their applications, software, and websites. Some of the biggest names in social media, tech, and a plethora of other industries have selected Java as their programming language of choice. The list below offers a few examples you may be familiar with.

  • Airbnb: For the backend/server-side development of its website and Android app

  • Pinterest: For application and data processing, along with other languages

  • Uber: To develop and maintain the entirety of its software that processes ride data

  • Spotify: For the backend of this music streaming platform

  • Slack: For its backend, including the development of Slack SDK for Java

  • Amazon: For software development, including Amazon Web Services (AWS)

  • Google: For its Google Web Toolkit, Android apps, and Gmail

  • Microsoft: To help develop its web browser Edge and its Visual Studio Code

  • eBay: To run the backend of its website

  • Meta: For backend programming and Android app development for its social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram

  • Netflix: For running the backend of this movie-streaming website

This list is not comprehensive. It is meant to illustrate how Java is the preferred programming language of many of the companies and brands that power our daily lives.

Start learning Java today with Coursera

As you begin your Java learning journey, you may find that there are many beginner and advanced online resources available to choose from. The first step is to determine what Java concepts you want to learn and if you prefer a structured learning approach or one that lets you learn more independently. Here are a few recommendations to get you started:

For a brief but beginner-friendly introduction to Java that you can complete in just 11 hours, check out LearnQuest's Introduction to Java.

If this is your first time learning a programming language, consider gaining fundamental software engineering expertise with Java by enrolling in Duke University's Java Programming and Software Engineering Fundamentals Specialization.

To grow your software development portfolio with Java object-oriented programming (OOP), enroll in Duke University's Object Oriented Programming in Java Specialization.

Article sources

  1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. " Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm." Accessed November 17, 2023.

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