Java health check-up: Has popularity waned?


Java is everywhere. Its fans and critics alike cannot deny that Java continues to rank in popularity charts, year after year. Let’s have a quick checkup on Java’s health, doctor’s orders.

StackOverflow’s health chart

StackOverflow’s developer survey looks at a massive amount of data. This year they asked over 100,000 developers the burning questions that the community wants to know. (Psst, if you love combing through data, StackOverflow just released their survey data to the public. People are already exploring the numbers and researching the figures with some interesting results and takeaways. What will you discover?) The 2018 survey had some mixed responses for Java’s health.

First: the good news. Java climbed up the popularity chart. In 2017 it was used by 39.7% of respondents. This year, Java rose up the charts, being used by 45.3% of respondents. Bravo Java! What might be the cause of the slowly rising popularity? Is Java popular because of its rampant usage in professional workplaces or because of developers’ familiarity with the language, or something else? We’d love to hear your theories on why Java continues to rank as one of the most popular coding languages!

SEE ALSO: Stack Overflow survey: Developers love TensorFlow & React, dread Hadoop & Angular


Source: StackOverflow 2018 Developer Survey Results

However, there’s a dark side. While the sheer usage of Java may be growing, its public opinion is wavering a bit. With the new Java release cycle, there has been plenty of conversation buzzing about the future of Java and whether or not six months per release is overkill. Developers are no longer jumping on board to become early adopters to each new release.

According to the StackOverflow 2018 survey, Java is split between a fan favorite and a dreaded curse. While 50.7% of developers love Java, 49.3% of developers reported that they dreaded it.

This isn’t too different than 2017’s results. In 2017, 50.5% developers loved Java and 49.5% dreaded it. This is not a drastic change in either direction, so perhaps this is neither good nor bad news. It’s just par for the course in the life of Java. Let’s put a sticky note on Java’s health records to be careful and keep an eye out on this, but it’s nothing to stress about for now.

JetBrains’ check up

Let’s move over to JetBrains’ survey: The State of Developer Ecosystem in 2018. We already discussed the results relating to Java and yet again, but let’s compare it to StackOverflow’s results. Are there any differences?

The ranking is slightly different according to JetBrains. Java is number 1; JavaScript is number 2; Python is number 3. Java and JavaScript have flipped positions, whereas in the StackOverflow results they were separated by a wide margin of 24.5%. The simple answer for this that you may have already caught is that JetBrains is the creator of the leading Java IDE, IntelliJ IDEA. So although the data is different, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Java took the number one spot since Java users may be predisposed to answer a survey from JetBrains.

Source: JetBrains The State of Developer Ecosystem in 2018

SEE ALSO: Java experts weigh in on the future of modular Java and reveal what’s on their Java 11 wish list

TIOBE Index’s health physical

Moving on to one more doctor before we make a call on Java’s health. This time, let’s check out the TIOBE Index for June 2018.


Source: TIOBE Index for June 2018

You can stop holding your breath. Java is ranked the number one most used programming language with a change of +0.88%. 

That’s pretty conclusive. Java has a strong bill of health and doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon.

Will this continue to be the case? Is the new Java release cycle a good thing for Java popularity? We will keep our fingers on the pulse and see what happens. Who knows, maybe in two years Java will be nowhere on the top 10 list and we will all be using Fortran again. (Okay, probably not.)