What Is Java Used For?

Written by Coursera • 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 among the most widely utilized programming languages in the world. Applications built on Java illustrate exactly what makes its simple, stable nature so appealing to leading brands. 

Chances are high that one of the first programming languages you’ll learn about once you begin your journey into app development is Java.

Java is an object-oriented, platform-independent language. It is not to be confused with JavaScript, which is a scripting language used to create dynamic web pages. Java, on the other hand, is used as a back-end development tool for the creation of both desktop and mobile applications and certain other software.

A growing number of applications are being built on Java frameworks as more IT professionals and non-developers come to appreciate the reliability and security this programming language has to offer.

Tasks commonly performed with Java

A significant benefit to Java is the wide range of tasks that can be performed using it. It’s also easy to use which is why a growing number of companies and brands opt to use Java for tasks where both high performance and quick turnaround are essential to project development. Among the more common Java-based tasks for which this program is best suited are:

  • Building and running mobile applications (everything from gaming apps to augmented reality)

  • Building and scaling cloud applications

  • Developing chatbots and other marketing tools

  • Powering enterprise-level web applications

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

What are the features of Java?

Several core features are at work in the Java programming language. Taken together, these features play an integral role in optimizing the simplicity, security, and portability of the language. The top features of Java double as buzzwords, or words and phrases that communicate specific characteristics of this high-level programming language. Nine features of Java that make this programming language so trustworthy are:

Robust: Java places an emphasis on helping users achieve error-free programming. This is done through processes such as runtime checking (RTC) which automatically detects and alerts users to runtime errors.

Simple: Java is designed to be easy to learn and understand and, therefore, easy to master with the right training and practice. A combination of automatic and structurally stable processes means even novice learners can use Java to build applications.

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

Multithreaded: Programs and applications written in Java benefit from the maximized utility of the language achieved through a process called multithreading. With multithreading, you can run programs separately yet execute them concurrently. Additionally, threads share a common memory area, therefore reducing the load on the central processing unit (CPU) and optimizing the language’s utility.

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. What this means is there is no need for you to write separate code for Mac, Linux, or Windows. Rather, Java is a software-based language whose code is compiled and converted into bytecode and 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. Additionally, code is free of dependencies and variants, and instructions from Java code are not directly executed onto the platform or machine it is running on. 

Distributed: Java employs a distributed language system that allows you to move and access code between different machines in the most secure way, thereby making it fully compatible with any programming environment, while simultaneously enabling it to support high bandwidth requirements, reduce latency, and increase output.

The benefits of learning to code with Java

The benefits that will stem from learning Java are clear. As a whole, learning to code with Java can make you more competitive for programming roles you may consider pursuing in the future.

Here are a few practical benefits of learning to code with Java:

  • Java is one of the simplest programming languages to learn, enabling you to learn and master it in a shorter period of time.

  • There are countless online resources to help you 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 22 percent between 2020 and 2030, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics [1].

  • Java’s popularity and programming language of choice continue to grow with leading brands.

  • Learning to code with Java puts you on a path to becoming well-skilled in software development, a prerequisite for developer roles with top companies and brands

Keep in mind that the extent of these potential benefits will depend on different factors, like how much time you dedicate to learning Java and whether you decide to pursue programming part-time for freelance development work or full-time as a career choice.

The most common challenges associated with learning Java

Having a solid understanding of the challenges that may accompany your learning of Java will be essential to helping you stay the course and, once you’ve mastered Java, taking on development responsibilities, whether as a freelancer or programming professional. Moreover, this understanding will enable you to make a qualified decision about whether or when to enroll in a Java training program or consult learning resources. 

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

  • Making mistakes along the way to mastery

  • Committing to memory the many types and layers of protocols, interfaces, rules, and other internal mechanisms that is Java

If you’re new to programming or software development, you’ll want to carefully consider how you will manage these challenges if they arise on your journey to learning Java.

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 chosen Java as their programming language of choice, and for good reason.

Among the companies that trust Java for their development needs are:

  • 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 by no means extensive but is meant to illustrate how Java is the preferred programming language of many of the companies and brands that power our daily lives.

How to start learning Java

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 at your own pace. Consider courses like:

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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 April 28, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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