Oracle's Java 15 rides into town, waving the 'we're number one' flag, demands 25th birthday party

'51 billion' active JVMs can't be wrong

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Oracle on Tuesday marked the arrival of Java 15, known as Oracle JDK 15 among those concerned about formalities and trademarks, in the 25th year of the programming language's existence.

"As Java celebrates its 25th birthday, we continue to make technical investments that drive Java innovation forward and help address the rapidly changing technology landscape," said Georges Saab, VP of development for Oracle's Java platform group, in a statement.

Java, the database giant insists, continues to be the number one programming language used by 69 per cent of full-time developers worldwide, though others frame the matter differently.

In TIOBE's September 2020 ranking of programming languages, Java is the number two programming language and isn't doing so well. "Java is in real trouble with a loss of -3.18 per cent in comparison to last year," said CEO Paul Jansen, who clearly isn't concerned that pedantic devs might read the loss of a negative value as an increase.

The PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language Index shows less of a percentage decline, though still puts Java behind Python. And Redmonk's July 2020 ranking of programming languages puts Java at number three.

Given doubts about the methodology of these measurements, perhaps it's fair to say that Java is second to none, one or two. Check in next month after the US Supreme Court hears arguments in Google v. Oracle to see whether that influences developer perception of Java.

Popularity contests aside, Java 15 comes with 14 new features, which is by design rather than an off-by-one error:

339: Edwards-Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (EdDSA)
360: Sealed Classes (Preview)
371: Hidden Classes
372: Remove the Nashorn JavaScript Engine
373: Reimplement the Legacy DatagramSocket API
374: Disable and Deprecate Biased Locking
375: Pattern Matching for instanceof (Second Preview)
377: ZGC: A Scalable Low-Latency Garbage Collector
378: Text Blocks
379: Shenandoah: A Low-Pause-Time Garbage Collector
381: Remove the Solaris and SPARC Ports
383: Foreign-Memory Access API (Second Incubator)
384: Records (Second Preview)
385: Deprecate RMI Activation for Removal

The more noteworthy enhancements include the production releases of the ZGC, a low-latency concurrent garbage collector, and Shenandoah, a different low-latency garbage collector, which minimize application pause times.

Also, the production release of multi-line text blocks provides a capability in Java long enjoyed in other programming languages. In statement, Bradley Shimmin, chief analyst at consultancy Omdia, cited multi-line text blocks among newly added features as evidence that Oracle is focused on the developer experience by "making Java not just more efficient but also more delightful to use."

You don't often see "Java" and "delightful"in the same sentence in the context of programming.

In a blog post, Sharat Chander, director of Java SE product management, highlights the addition of support for the Edwards-Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (EdDSA), outlined in RFC 8032. "EdDSA is a modern elliptic curve signature scheme that has several advantages over the existing signature schemes in the JDK," he said.

Chander observes that this is the sixth Java release since moving to the six-month release cadence. The shift from mammoth releases every three years to biannual updates hasn't really altered Java's overall rate of change, he said, but it has allowed production-ready features to get to Java developers sooner.

Java 15 had 2,136 JIRA issues that were fixed, 1,702, or almost 80 per cent, from developers at Oracle and 434, or about 20 per cent, from developers working at other companies. For the first time, Chander said, DataDog and Microsoft contributed code changes.

Java 16 is scheduled for release in March 2021, assuming civilization is still standing at that point. ®

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