“But here’s a fact, I’m the only one of these clowns that can code in Java and I write sleek performant low-overhead Scala code with higher order functions that will run on anything. Period. End of sentence.” Dinesh Chugtai, Silicon Valley
Early on in the HBO series Silicon Valley, coders at a startup have to defend their jobs and value to the company. One coder, Dinesh Chugtai, stakes his value on his ability to code in Java. In the show, this is considered indispensable, and the programming language is mainstream enough to be referenced as such on a television show.
Java enjoys rarefied air due to its ubiquity. In our December 2017 report on interoperability, we estimated that there were over 1.7 million Java coders in the United States. Of job postings for developers, 42% specifically listed experience with Java as a desired skill, more than any other programming language.
We recently released a survey on API use that backs this up, as over 80% of developers we surveyed said that they use Java, with 62% saying they use it “frequently” or “sometimes”. It is clear that Java is one of the most commonly-used languages today.
Our survey also pulls back the curtain on why that is: because developers understood APIs programmed in language similar to Java to be open for re-use, including with the Android operating system. The survey shows that 83% of developers understand this to be true.
We wanted to ask how they would react if it wasn’t true. We presented developers with a scenario where Java were not free to re-use but instead charged a licensing fee. Only 10% said they wouldn’t reduce their use of Java. Almost 30% say they would stop using it altogether.
More to the point, 89% of developers agree that Java would not be as commonly used today if it had not been free for re-use from the start.
One possible consequence we presented to developers was that Android, now being charged a licensing fee for APIs developed in language similar to Java, would no longer support it; 72% of developers said this would be a disruption to their business.
It’s clear that Java is commonly used. It’s also clear, from developers, that it is only this common due to the open re-use of its language.