While it may be clear why Java language is often labeled as secure, simple, dynamic, portable, and reliable as well as class-based and object-oriented, the answer to the question of why Java is platform independent may not be that obvious.
„Java platform independent” is a phrase that is often searched within search engines as it may not be clear what this term actually means. But „platform independence” simply implies independence from all types of platforms. The code can also run on all operating systems.
In this article, we’ll zoom in on Java’s platform independence.
Table of contents:
1. Java and platform independence
Java is an open-source, high-level (easy to understand for programmers, and thus not a low, machine-level language easy to understand primarily for computers), reliable, secure, multithreaded, and versatile programming language. It can also be referred to simply as a Java program or, more elaborately, as a set of computer software and specifications.
Apart from many other characteristic features it is known for, like being object-oriented or class-based, the Java programming language is platform independent or a cross-platform one. But what exactly sets it apart from platform dependent programming languages?
Well, first of all, being a programming language with a low number of implementation dependencies, with compiled Java code able to run „on all platforms that support Java without the need for recompilation”, was at the very core of Java’s design back in the 1990s. Its founding, in 1994, is credited to a Canadian James Gosling – also known as Dr.Java or simply dubbed the father of Java – of Sun Microsystems at that time.
Interestingly, the platform independent Java runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) which is… platform dependent, as there are different versions needed for particular operating systems. In general, the term „platform dependent” usually refers to applications that run under only one operating system in one series of computers” but may also mean „machine dependent” or „hardware dependent”.
2. Things that make Java platform-independent
Now, what makes the Java platform independent? Let’s go through a couple of reasons.
In general, platform independence may be called a technology that allows programmers to reuse things that had been initially implemented on one machine on others – without the need to apply any major changes prior to or related to that.
In other words, the Java Byte Code written on one occasion and on one machine may be run on another one, which offers a proper environment for it, at any time.
But the machine usually needs a machine-level language that it can comprehend. For this reason, a compiler or converter that translates high-level language Java is into one understood by machines is necessary. As a result of this operation, source files ending with the .java extension are easily transformed into .class files (executed by JVM). Any platform that runs JVM (that gets installed automatically along with Java) can be used for Java source code execution.
This way, the source code (written in plain text files) is turned into an executable one – which can be performed with the help of Java Byte Code. Thus, the latter – a highly optimized set of instructions – may be regarded as the core of Java’s platform independence.
But why Java is a platform independent language is one thing, and why it may be worth using it in your projects is another.
3. Why using Java in your projects might help
Java is a platform independent language, but also an object-oriented, class-based, and generic one. Moreover, it is known as general-purpose language so its use cases are quite diverse. It is broadly applied across many domains and used for a variety of development tasks. The list of Java’s use cases is impressive and embraces things such as creating Android apps, games, and websites, including those of high-profile corporations, like Google or LinkedIn, as well as Netflix, Spotify, Amazon and Uber.
Java’s versatility makes it perfect for projects that make our day-to-day lives easier or enhanced, in a way. These include designing smart cities, electricity billing systems, ATM interfaces, currency converters, airline reservation systems, and various management systems, to name but a few.
Putting Java in the limelight and discovering its lesser-known features is important as Java is, still, a very popular programming language. In the 2021 Developer Survey, it was revealed that over a third of developers (33.35%) utilized it, and it was named the fifth in the Programming, scripting, and markup languages category. And as far as the TIOBE Index is concerned, Java has been dubbed the third most popular programming language lately (as of October 2021). It was only beaten by Python and C.
Along with Java itself, comes the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), used for running Java or Java byte code programs, with the number of users estimated in millions. Java operating system (JavaOS), Java compiler, Java Runtime Environment, and Java programs, in general, are also frequently used and talked about.
Is Java’s platform independence an important feature for you? Which features are more important in your daily duties? What kind of projects do you use Java in your day-to-day work?