Java is a high-level object-oriented programming language that can produce code for various platforms, created in 1995 by Sun Microsystems. It was initially created for developing applications and programs for set-top boxes and handheld devices. It is designed for building web applications and is meant to be usable across many platforms so developers can write code in Java once that can be used anywhere – WORA: write once, run anywhere.

In terms of guiding principles, Java was created to be robust, fast, powerful and object-oriented; multi-threaded, portable and architecturally neutral; and secure, simple, interpreted and dynamic.

Today, Java is run on more than 3 billion devices making it one of the most popular languages, especially for client-server applications. In fact, there are many websites and applications that cannot work without Java.

The development process

Java is an extremely powerful programming language, with syntax that is similar to that of C and C++. All Java programs are multiplatform and can be run on Windows, Mac, and Unix computers. Java programming requires the Java Development Kit that includes an interpreter, compiler, document generator, and other tools used in programming to produce a complete application.

Each operating system handles files and code differently. As an example, Windows has executable files, while Macintosh has applications that are run directly by the operating system. With Java applications, the Java program can’t be run directly by the operating system. The program first needs to be interpreted by the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

When a programmer codes using Java and produces a Java application, the code is known as bytecode, coded instructions on how it should be run on various operating systems and hardware hosts. Bytecodes can run on multiple operating systems but run differently according to the system and are executed by virtual machines that are specific to the hosting hardware. Sometimes end users use a special installed environment on their computers, such as a Java Runtime Environment, to run the applications, or for applets, in a web browser.

To run a Java application on your system, you have to install the JVM, which is incorporated as part of the Java Runtime Environment and is available as a free download online.

Java produces applets, browser-run programs, that facilitate graphical user interface and object interaction by internet users. The Java applets run in the web browser, interpreted by the JVM, which translates bytecode to native processor instructions allowing indirect OS program execution.

Before Java and the coding of applets, web pages were static and non-interactive.

Java programmers can develop Java applications on three main platforms: Java SE, Java EE, and Java ME.

  • Java SE – Java Standard Edition is used to create stand-alone and straightforward applications. It was formerly known as J2SE, and it provides the programmer with all the APIs required to develop a standard desktop application.
  • Java EE – Java Enterprise Edition provides programmers with the ability to create server components that respond to web-based requests response cycle. This is the type of arrangement that enables creation of Java programs that can interact with the internet-based clients, including SOAP-based web services, web browsers, and COBRA-based clients.
  • Java ME – Java Micro Edition is a lightweight platform that is used for mobile development. It is a powerful and useful platform for embedded device development.

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