Java 17 now developers' favorite brew, with Eclipse Adoptium proving popular, too

New Relic report also sees accelerated uptake of freshly-ground JDK releases

The nearly three-year-old Java 17 has overtaken Java 11 as the most widely used long-term support (LTS) version of the programming language, according to app monitors at New Relic.

Major users of Java, specifically large corporates, tend to be cautious with their technology stack. Shifting to a version of Java released in September 2021 therefore looks positively avant garde.

The latest LTS version of Java – meaning it gets support for up to eight years rather than the six month window for non-LTS releases – is Java 21, released in September 2023. New Relic found it is used in production by just 1.4 percent of applications.

Yet that’s a significantly higher than the 0.37 percent adoption Java 17 achieved six months after release.

New Relic, in its 2024 State of the Java Ecosystem report, suggested the platform’s Java ecosystem is adopting new technology faster than it did in the past.

"The adoption rate of Java 17 far exceeded what the developer world saw when Java 11 was introduced," the report states.

"About a tenth (9 percent) of applications were using Java 17 in production in 2023, and now 35 percent of applications are using Java 17, representing a nearly 300 percent growth rate in one year. It took years for Java 11 to reach anywhere near that level."

Java 22, a non-LTS release, came out in March 2024. Less than two percent of applications rely on non-LTS versions of Java in production deployments.

Java vendors have also seen some change. According to New Relic's report, both Oracle and Amazon have seen their JDK market share slip.

Oracle was the most popular JDK in 2020, when Big Red held about 75 percent of the market. But after the license change that accompanied JDK 11, Oracle's JDK became less popular and a subsequent license revision didn't reverse the trend.

"There was a noticeable movement away from Oracle binaries after the more restrictive licensing of its JDK 11 distribution (before the return to a more open stance with Java 17), and we’ve seen a steady decline year-over-year (YoY) ever since then," the report says. "While Oracle retained the top spot in 2022 (34 percent), it slipped to 29 percent in 2023, and it’s now at 21 percent – which represents a 28 percent decrease in one year."

Amazon, according to New Relic, saw its OpenJDK distribution - Corretto - reach 31 percent of the market in 2023, up from 2.2 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2022. But in 2024, Amazon's piece of the Java pie declined to 18 percent.

The beneficiary of changing tastes has been Eclipse Adoptium, which saw adoption rise 50 percent year-on-year from 12 percent market share to 18 percent. New Relic attributes this to the fact that Adoptium is community-managed and tends to be updated more frequently than the JDKs from Oracle and Amazon.

As workloads have shifted to the cloud, New Relic has seen 18 percent more Java applications running on four or fewer cores. The firm says that while the desire to run smaller in cloud environments may make sense, that has implications for whether to use the default G1 garbage collector. One a single core instance, G1 doesn't benefit from concurrency support in recent JVMs, the biz says. So Java users might be better advised to use the Serial Garbage Collector, though there's a performance cost.

Finally, the New Relic report looks at the popularity of Java frameworks and finds that Log4j, used by 76 percent of Java applications, is the leading logging framework, ahead of JBoss Logging (61 percent) and Logback (52 percent).

Among encryption libraries, 17 percent of Java applications use Bouncy Castle, 16 percent use Spring Security, and six percent use Jasypt. And among databases, Oracle Database leads, with 17 percent, followed by PostgreSQL (14 percent), and MySQL (13 percent). ®

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