Application Development with Java
Being a widespread programming language, Java is currently used to develop digital solutions for various businesses across industries. This article discusses why Java is so popular among software developers and business owners, what types of applications you can build with this language, and how to get started with Java.
What Is Java?
Java is a general-purpose, open-source, platform-agnostic programming language released in 1995 by Sun Microsystems. Currently, the company’s owner is Oracle. Java is also a platform comprising a set of libraries and tools for efficient Java app development.
Core Java features
- Object-oriented: the Java code is based on classes and objects.
- Platform-independent: the code is portable and can run on various software platforms(Windows, Linux, macOS) and on any hardware with a compliant JVM.
- Multithreaded: it executes multiple functions of one app simultaneously.
- Distributed: an application can be divided into parts that will be stored on different machines.
- Syntax takes many features from C/C++ but removes the complexity of these languages.
- The basis for Android app development.
The reason why Java remains highly competitive for over twenty years and is not inferior to younger programming languages is in its continuous development and updating. The language is fast, highly secure, and reliable. The fact that global IT giants participate in the technology development proves that Java will be in demand by many businesses and programmers for years to come.
Types of Applications You Can Develop with Java
Initially, Java was used exclusively in the digital and cable television industry. Today, this is an extremely versatile programming language, enabling you to develop projects in various domains and for practically any tasks.
Let’s see what categories of apps you can write with Java.
Benefits of Java App Development
Why do software developers and business owners opt for Java in their projects? In a nutshell, the technology has been tested, improved, extended, and validated by the community members during its long history. It allows companies to develop high-performance applications on almost all computer platforms, and consequently, provide a wider range of services to end-users.
Now, let’s look at the benefits of this programming language in detail.
Simple and easy to use
Java is often the first programming language that newbies try to master. Its syntax is similar to the English language, which makes coding relatively simple and comprehensible. The static typing of the language allows you to timely detect bugs in the code during compilation.
Java is much simpler than, for example, C or C++, where it’s easy to make mistakes that will lead to further program failures. In addition, the language is easy enough for experienced developers. If a specialist is fluent in C and C ++, learning Java will not take much time.
Java is one of the most demanded programming languages. Therefore, there are many reference materials for studying it: well-structured documentation, guides, video tutorials. In open sources, you can find all kinds of guides and instructions that will help you understand any issues related to writing code.
There is also a dedicated online Java community where you can get answers to any questions you may have, find support in difficult project situations or share your valuable experience.
A large set of development tools
Over the past decades, a vast ecosystem of development tools accumulated around the Java language. Programmers have utilities for any tasks and needs at the disposal: integrated development environments, debuggers, build automation tools, and many more. Such a varied supply of tools significantly increases the productivity of programmers, automates routine operations, and provides additional control over the product quality.
Safety and reliability
In conditions of increasing cyber threats, the requirements for application security are constantly growing. Java has a variety of built-in mechanisms and approaches that allow developers to write more secure programs. For example, Java does not provide direct access to memory addresses, unlike C/C++, which helps you avoid many unexpected situations. The language also implements an advanced memory management and garbage collection model.
In addition to built-in solutions, programmers can use various libraries and tools to provide the required level of security for applications and services. For example, implemented data encryption algorithms, libraries for network requests authorization and authentication, tools for sanitizing the incoming data. The presence of such capabilities allows Java to cope well with various cyber threats.
The essential feature of Java is its cross-platform nature — code can be written and run on almost all platforms and devices for which the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) exists. Thanks to this feature, Java is considered to be the most versatile and flexible programming language. For example, a written Windows program can run seamlessly on a device based on macOS or Linux.
The issues of efficient utilization of server capacities and improving app performance are urgent in modern software development. One option to address these issues is to write multithreaded applications. This approach allows you to parallelize the execution of various parts of the code and use the central processor resources more efficiently.
Java programmers have many tools at their disposal to conveniently use this method. The standard language library has both low-level and high-level primitives for writing multithreaded applications.
Java is one of the few languages that provides backwards compatibility. In other words, you can easily run an application written ten years ago on a modern version of the JVM. This approach gives users the confidence that the developed solutions can be maintained for many years to come.
Although Java is quite old, it doesn’t stop evolving and keeps up with modern tech trends. Previously, the releases of new versions happened once in a couple of years. Since 2018, developers see fresh releases twice a year, which makes the development more dynamic.
What is more, language developers introduce new features as preview features, before adding them to the main branch. This way, users can try them in practice and provide feedback.
Wide pool of developers
Since Java is one of the most popular programming languages in the world, hiring the developers is easier due to the wider pool of candidates.
If a company chooses a less popular programming language, it may be difficult to hire experienced specialists and, as a result, the project cost may increase.
How to Get Started with Java App Development
Before you can create a simple app in Java, you should gain insights on the basics of this language — object-oriented programming. Briefly speaking, a Java program is a set of objects that communicate via methods. Following are the basic terms:
- Keywords - words that have predefined meanings in this programming language.
- Class - a category that defines the properties, data types and methods of objects.
- Object - an item within a class with certain properties and behavior.
- Statement - a sentence that conveys an idea.
- Method - a function (a set of statements) to perform a specific task.
For successful work in Java, you also need to know variables and constants, their types and how to work with them; arrays; type conversion; working with strings; input and output; logical and arithmetic operations and expressions; various operators (if-else branch operator) and loops (while and do-while loops).
Then, you should know tools, libraries, and frameworks needed to create a certain type of application.
Let’s consider the tools and development algorithm of developing a desktop app with Java.
Java desktop app development
Step 1. Download and install JDK
Java programming has three main technology packages:
- JVM (Java Virtual Machine) for program execution
- JRE (Java Runtime Environment) for running the code
- JDK (Java Development Kit) for developing programs
You can download and use JVM and JRE as independent components for running pieces of code and executing programs. But to develop an app, you need JDK that contains JVM, JRE and several libraries.
So, to start the development, you first need to download JDK from the official Oracle website and install it on your computer. JDK is based on the Java compiler and class libraries. When downloading, you should choose the Java version (the latest release is preferable) and a package needed for the type of app you want to develop (Enterprise Edition, Standard Edition, and Mobile Edition).
Step 2. Download and install IDE
Then, you need to choose and install an integrated development environment. Among the popular IDEs for Java are Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, NetBeans, and more. Since you intend to build a desktop app, you can install a free, open-source NetBeans IDE. It provides the drag-and-drop functionality so you can quickly add elements on the page without writing the code.
Step 3. Download and install GUI tool
You need a specific toolkit for designing a user interface. The most popular Java UI tools are Swing, SWT, AWT and JavaFX. For a desktop application, it’s best to go with Swing or JavaFX.
Step 4. Start a new project
Create a new project in the development environment and start adding components you need for your app. The essential user interface components are buttons, text fields, icons, lists, tables, etc. In the properties box, select style, size, location and other characteristics of these components. Using the layout manager, place the components as required on the window.
When the design is finished, make the components perform associated actions by applying relevant methods to them.
Step 5. Download and install the database
Any application needs a database to store data and allow users to manipulate with it. There are various databases available, such as PostgreSQL and Oracle Database. For a desktop app, you can install MySQL and build a database with required tables and fields. Now, you can perform various actions such as insert, edit, select and delete data.
Step 6. Integrate the app and database
To connect the database with the created application, you need the Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) API. This tool bridges the gap between the interface and the database and allows end users to perform actions via the interface.
Step 7. Create a single app file
The final step is to aggregate all the created elements into one file — the JAR file. And that’s it, your desktop app is ready.
If you want to build a mobile application, you’ll need to download Android Studio and follow similar steps.
Since its introduction, Java has managed to compete with younger programming languages and remain the mainstream technology for developers and many of the world’s corporations.
Due to its flexibility, simplicity, security, and ability to adapt to different tasks, Java has become a universal solution for a variety of commercial projects. From laptops and data centers, to game consoles and IoT devices, Java is everywhere!
Regular updates and backward compatibility between versions also contribute to the competitive advantage. The long-term positive reputation of Java gives reason to believe that the language will not lose its relevance and will be in demand among companies and programmers for years to come.