Oracle announces Java 15 on the language’s 25th birthday

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Coming amid reports of declining popularity, the company latest release is attempting to win back the hearts of developers worldwide.

Oracle announced on Tuesday the release of Oracle JDK 15, or simply Java 15. The new release marks 25 years since the programming language’s debut.

“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.

Oracle: “we’re number one!”

Oracle maintains that Java is still the number one programming language worldwide. Java is used by 69 per cent of full-time developers, Oracle says, with 51 billion active JVMs deployed globally.

Some industry analysts gauge the language’s popularity differently, and in a less flattering light.

The TIOBE Index a report that ranks programming languages. The September 2020 index shows Java is actually in second place, and falling. TIOBE CEO Paul Jansen put it bluntly: “Java is in real trouble with a loss of -3.18 per cent in comparison to last year.”

TIOBE’s PYPL Popularity of Programming Language Index shows less of a decline, but still puts Java in second place behind Python. Even worse, Java ranks third on Redmonk’s July 2020 ranking of programming languages.

Many have doubts about the methodology used in these indexes, however. And this whiff of controversy allows Oracle to defend its own claims of being number one.

New Java features aim to please developers

Aside from the subjective benchmark of popularity, the new Java release does have 14 verifiable new features. 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. Both features serve to minimize application pause times.

Also, the production release of multi-line text blocks finally provides a “developer-friendly” capability in Java that has been available other programming languages for some time.

Bradley Shimmin, chief analyst at consultancy Omdia, cited multi-line text blocks and other new features as proof that Oracle is focused on the developer experience. Shimmin claims Oracle is “making Java not just more efficient but also more delightful to use.”

Sharat Chander, director of Java SE product management, noted in a blog post that this is the sixth Java release since moving to the biannual release frequency. He also added that this is the first release where DataDog and Microsoft contributed code changes.

Java 16 is scheduled for release in March 2021.