What Is Java, Exactly?

Balazs Refi

July 18, 2023

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Java is one of the programming languages that have defined software development over the last two decades. Read on to find out more!


In the last two decades, Java has consistently been one of the most popular programming languages. It's a universal, object-oriented programming language and platform (a set of software and hardware components that are required to run Java applications). It's widely used and highly versatile, as you can use it to develop web applications, mobile applications, video games like Minecraft, or anything else.

According to the TIOBE index, which is calculated based on the number of search engine results for queries containing the name of the programming language, its popularity has been declining. Don't be alarmed, though: the lowest point in Java's popularity since 2001 came in 2023, when it slipped to fourth place among all existing programming languages. That doesn't sound that bad, does it?

So does it still merit your attention? Absolutely! For years, the demand for Java programmers has been increasing and will most likely continue to do so in the near future.

What Is Java - TIOBE Index - Bluebird Blog

Source: https://www.tiobe.com/tiobe-index/

The Brief History of Java


During this period, Java was still relatively new, and just a few established frameworks were available.
One of the earliest Java frameworks was Apache Struts, which was released in 2000 and gained popularity for building web applications.


Struts continued to dominate the Java web framework landscape during this period. Many enterprises adopted Struts for their web application development.

Spring Framework emerged in 2003 and quickly gained popularity due to its lightweight nature, dependency injection, and aspect-oriented programming (AOP) capabilities.

Hibernate, an object-relational mapping (ORM) framework, also gained traction for simplifying database access in Java applications.


The popularity of Spring Framework continued to grow, becoming the de facto standard for Java enterprise application development.

JavaServer Faces (JSF) gained popularity as a component-based web framework, offering a rich set of UI components and event-driven programming model.

Apache Wicket, a component-based web framework with a focus on simplicity and testability, also gained some traction.


The rise of JavaScript and client-side frameworks impacted the Java framework landscape.

JavaServer Faces (JSF) maintained its popularity, especially in enterprise settings, due to its tight integration with Java EE (now Jakarta EE) standards.

Play Framework, a modern and lightweight web framework with support for reactive programming, gained attention among developers.


Spring Framework continued to dominate the Java framework ecosystem, evolving to support modern architectural styles such as microservices and reactive programming.

Spring Boot, an opinionated framework for building production-ready Spring applications with minimal configuration, gained significant popularity.

Java EE was rebranded as Jakarta EE, and frameworks like Apache Tomcat and Jetty remained popular choices for Java web applications.


Spring Framework and Spring Boot maintained their dominance in the Java ecosystem, with a strong focus on cloud-native development and containerization.

Quarkus, a Kubernetes-native Java framework, gained attention for its fast startup times and low memory footprint, making it suitable for serverless and cloud-native deployments.

Micronaut, another lightweight and cloud-native framework, gained popularity for its low memory consumption and fast startup times.

Main Components Of Java

Java Development Kit (JDK)

The Java Development Kit provides developers with the tools necessary to develop applications. When you download the JDK, you get the Java compiler, Java Virtual Machine (JVM), Java Class Library, development tools, documentation, sample programs, and so on.

Java Runtime Environment (JRE)

Contains the environment components required to run Java. These are the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and Java classes.

Java Virtual Machine (JVM)

In short, the JVM is what allows Java programs to run on any platform.

Java Compiler

The Java compiler is a program that turns your Java code into a platform-independent file.

Main Features of Java - Bluebird blog
Main Components of Java - Bluebird blog

advantages of Java

Platform independent

This means that your robust application can be developed on any operating system and run on any other operating system that supports the Java runtime environment.

The Java compiler converts your finished code into an intermediate format that the JVM can understand. Because the JVM runs on all platforms, you can run the code anywhere.

Why is this important? Because your code will only need to be developed once for any number of runtime environments (operating systems).


Object-oriented refers to the design principle of describing everything as classes. The classes define the object's attributes and methods. OK, but why is this interesting? Because objects are simple to use, maintain, and develop further, and because objects can only access their own data via their own methods. This ensures data security.

There are numerous other advantages to being object-oriented (such as inheritance, code reusability, and so on), but describing all of them would exceed the scope of this article.

Robust and Secure

Its robustness is primarily due to rigorous type-checking and dynamic memory management. Because JRE includes security mechanisms to prevent malicious code from running, it is considered secure (at least in principle). Also, let's not forget that Java executes controlled code and has exception-handling mechanisms.

These characteristics are essential for any application. Java has been one of the most widely used programming languages in recent decades, whether for enterprise applications, mobile applications, games, or even complex transaction management systems.

Large Community

When a programming language is used by a large number of developers, a community forms around it. Questions are raised, answers are provided, and many open-source projects and solutions are born. Java is no exception, which has a long-standing and strong programming community. On the web, there is a wealth of articles, educational material, documentation, and question-and-answer resources for almost any Java-related topic or issue.

Main areas of application for Java

Web development

Java EE can be very useful for developing web applications (Enterprise Edition).

Mobile applications

This programming language can be the perfect choice for building applications (using Android Studio, for example) running on the Android operating system.

Big Data and AI

Java can also be an excellent choice for analyzing large data sets and developing AI applications.


It is also suitable for IoT (Internet of Things) tasks, given its strengths listed above (platform independence, security, scalability, etc.)


As a secure programming language, Java can be a good option when developing secure and reliable software and systems.

Applications of Java - Bluebird blog

Game development

Java can also be used to develop video games. For example, Minecraft was created using this programming language (among other, more complex games, of course).

Java Frameworks

What exactly are frameworks?

Frameworks include pre-built functionalities that are tested, dependable, and easy to use. As a result, you don't have to develop the same basic functionality over and over: you can simply use existing solutions.

Read our blog posts to discover more about Java Frameworks and Java Libraries.

Why do we use frameworks?

  • Speed: You don't always have to write everything from scratch; the functionality you can use is ready and tested. You just need to spend some time getting to know the framework.

  • Security: When you use framework components like login, you can be confident that the solution provided by the framework is secure and adequately protected against hacking and other threats.

  • Documentation: Frameworks have accurate, clear, and well-structured documentation. This makes easy to find whatever you're looking for.

  • Community: People who use the same framework may experience similar problems. When a question arises, there's a good chance somebody will be able to answer it, which is what keeps communities alive and thriving. Communities organized around the most popular Java frameworks are vibrant and engaged.

What are the most popular Java frameworks?

The most popular are  SpringHibernateStrutsWicketGWTVaadinPlayJSF

Spring Framework
Hibernate Framework
Struts Framework
Apache Wicket Framework
GWT Framework
Vaadin Framework
Play Framework
JSF Framework

What is the difference between Java and JavaScript?

Well, quite a lot. To start with, we're talking about two completely different programming languages.

One is a platform-independent general-purpose programming language that can be used to develop business (web) apps, mobile apps, Big Data and AI solutions, games, and so on. This is Java.

JavaScript, on the other hand, is a scripting language that is primarily used in browsers. Netscape had developed it for this purpose. Its syntax is also entirely different from that of Java. 

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