The Java programming language continues to be one of the most widely used technologies for application development.
While Java is a mature technology, the landscape of vendors and user adoption is shifting, according to the 2023 State of Java Ecosystem report from observability vendor New Relic. The data from the New Relic report isn't necessarily a complete view of the global Java community as it is based just on data drawn from applications reporting to New Relic in January 2023. That said, as a large observability vendor, New Relic's data provides a solid sample size and interesting viewpoints into the current state of the Java ecosystem.
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Among the key finding in the report:
- Java 17 user adoption grew 430% in one year.
- Java 14 is the most popular non-LTS version.
- Amazon is the most popular JDK vendor.
- Container usage dominates.
Leadership and Popularity in the State of Java Ecosystem
When Java was created in 1995, development was led and controlled largely by its creators at Sun Microsystems. That situation changed in 2006, after Oracle acquired Sun and transitioned Java to an open source model.
As part of the open approach, there is an open source Java Development Kit (JDK) distribution that is published by multiple vendors, including but not limited to Oracle. For most of the history of OpenJDK, Oracle has remained one of the most commonly used distributions. In 2023 that slipped somewhat according to New Relic.
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Oracle holds a 28% market share for OpenJDK usage, according to New Relic, down from 34% in 2022. Holding down the top spot is now the Amazon Corretto OpenJDK distribution at 31%, up from 22% in 2022.
Which Version of Java Is the Most Popular?
Java iterates at a regular rate with new incremental updates every six months, with a major long term support (LTS) release every two years.
Generally speaking, adoption of LTS releases is typically greater than that of non-LTS updates. In 2023, the most popular LTS is Java 11 at 56%, followed by Java 8 at 33%. The more recent LTS is actually Java 17, which was released in September 2021 and currently only has a 9% market adoption, according to New Relic.
"I'm really keen to see how quickly Java 17 picks up market share," Jemiah Sius, director of developer relations at New Relic, told ITProToday. "It took years for Java 11 to catch Java 8, but 17 seems set for a much faster climb."
Looking at non-LTS releases, Java 14 holds the top spot, with 0.57%, which is still very meager in comparison to LTS releases. The most recent non-LTS is Java 20, which was released on March 21 of this year and doesn't even show up in the New Relic data.
Overall, Sius commented that a common myth pins Java as a stodgy, slow moving, enterprise-only ecosystem, which isn't the current reality.
"In fact, there's a massive variety to what Java can do, and new features and functionality are regularly making their way into the platform," Sius said. "It's a great mix of stability and compatibility, with a real path to evolving over time."
About the authorSean Michael Kerner is an IT consultant, technology enthusiast and tinkerer. He consults to industry and media organizations on technology issues.