Java 17 Features Massive Upgrades, New Update Schedule

Oracle claims the latest update to Java (Java 17) features “thousands” of performance, stability, and security upgrades. It also removes some outdated legacy features and updates key libraries—essential factors in keeping developers happy. But will these changes allow Java to remain a dominant language?

In addition to the new features in Java 17, Oracle is shifting the language onto a six-month update schedule, designed to be leaner and more manageable for engineers. “The changes range from significant new features to small enhancements to routine maintenance, bug fixes, and documentation improvements,” states Oracle’s official blog posting on Java 17. “Each change is represented in a single commit for a single issue in the JDK Bug System.”

What’s behind the huge update and the change in update cadence? Could it have anything to do with Kotlin, the up-and-coming language positioned as an eventual Java replacement? 

Based on the numbers, it seems like Java won’t see its prominent position challenged anytime soon. The TIOBE Index, which attempts to rank languages according to their popularity, puts Java in third place, just behind C and Python. Other programming-language rankings, including IEEE Spectrum’s annual breakdown and RedMonk, also position Java near the top despite differing methodologies.

Like other ultra-popular programming languages, companies and individual developers have been using Java for decades, meaning there’s a mountain of legacy code to be maintained. That’s in addition to new services and apps created every day for ultra-popular platforms such as Android. As a practical matter, that means Java isn’t fading away for a long, long time.

Nonetheless, the hype surrounding Kotlin has led some folks to believe it’ll eventually eclipse Java. But that might take some time: On the TIOBE Index, for example, Kotlin isn’t even in the top 20 languages; it also lags behind lots of other programming languages on other rankings. Hype doesn’t translate into usage, in other words, even if Google’s positioning Kotlin as a “first class” language for Android development.  

According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes job postings from across the country, the median Java developer salary is $102,000, which is pretty high for technology positions. In the meantime, if you want to start learning this programming language, check out this list of handy tutorials