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Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Java

By Jamie Mercer

Thinking about introducing Java into your development practices?

Deciding on the right programming language for your business can be tricky; it gets even more difficult when most of your business fails to grasp the basics of the language.

Java is the most popular programming language used in development today, and if you’ve got questions, then we’ve got the answers. Take a look at our Java FAQs to find out how it can benefit your business.

What is the Java programming language?

Java is a programming language and computing platform owned by Oracle Corporation.  Originally developed by Sun Microsystems, the object-oriented language is an integral part of the entire Java software platform.

Designed to be implemented with as few dependencies as possible, Java promotes a ‘WORA’ (write once, run anywhere) strategy, allowing your business to run it successfully on all development platforms.

A cornerstone of the IT industry, Gartner estimates that the language is used by more than 80% of large-enterprise IT departments, and its developer base is expected to grow steadily, thanks to its expanding support of languages such as JRuby and Scala.

What are the different platforms for Java?

There are four different platforms of the Java programming languages. When deciding on which platform to use in your business, you’ll need to consider their niche specialities and the impact they’ll have on your development team.

What is Java SE?

Java Standard Edition (Java SE) is the core programming platform offered by Oracle. Containing all of the relevant libraries and APIs to create and deploy code, it is the foundation for all other available Java platforms.

What features does Java SE include?

The basic level of Java SE includes the following development features

  • The Java Development Kit (JDK), including the Java FX Software Development Kit (SDK)
  • Java Runtime Environment (JRE)—server and regular packages
  • Java FX Runtime
  • JRockit JDK

What APIs are available for use with Java SE?

There are several APIs available for use within the standard edition platform; a full list can be found on the Oracle website.

What is the cost of basic Java SE?

Currently, there is no added costs for a business to commercially use the basic version of Java SE. However, from January 2019, if you fail to upgrade to the latest release of the language, your business can face added costs if you require extra support from Oracle.

What are the other Java SE products available?

Java SE Advanced

This edition of Java SE allows larger enterprises to minimise the overall cost of Java management. A subscription-based platform, Java SE Advanced provides a business with the capacity to deploy, manage and maintain all their Java applications in one place.

The key features of Java SE Advanced include the management and control of business-wide Java deployments through the Advanced Machine Console (AMC), and the pre-emption and resolution of application issues with the Java Flight Recorder (JFR) and Java Mission Control (JMC).

The product also allows organisations who run older editions of Java, such as 7, to receive updates, keeping their development environment secure while also giving them direct access to a specialised support team.

Java SE Advanced Desktop

This Oracle product allows for all of the functionality above, but it is limited to desktop use cases.

Java SE Suite

This product offers all of the features of Java SE Advanced with the addition of Oracle JRockit Real Time, which allows users to add real-time performance to an application without changing any code.

What is the cost of a Java SE subscription?

Offered on an enterprise-wide, term-based plan, the subscription model includes cloud deployment, server, and desktop licensing and support.

  • The cost of server and cloud deployment is $25 per processor per month
  • Desktop price is $2.50 per month

What do users receive within the subscription?

  • Access to current and legacy Java SE Binaries
  • Access to Java SE 8 Commercial Features
  • Access to Performance, Stability and Security Updates
  • MOS (My Oracle Support)
  • Access Cloud Workload and On-premise, Internal Use license
  • Annual 1–3 Year Term Licensing
 Volume  Metric Monthly Price
 1-999   Named User Plus  $2.50
 1,000 – 2,999   Named User Plus  $2.00
 3,000 – 3,999   Named User Plus  $1.75
 10,000 – 19,999   Named User Plus  $1.50
 20,000 – 49,999   Named User Plus  $1.25
 50,000 +  Contact Oracle of details

Java SE Subscription Pricing

 Volume  Metric Monthly Price
 1-99   Processor  $25.00
 100-249  Processor  $23.75
 250-499  Processor  $22.50
 500-999  Processor  $20.00
 1,000 – 2,999  Processor  $17.50
 3,000 – 9,999  Processor  $15.00
 10,000 – 19,999  Processor  $12.00
 20,000+ Contact Oracle of details

What is Java EE (Jakarta EE)?

An enterprise edition of the Java programming language powered by Java, the platform allows for the extension of the basic specification’s used within Java SE to be used with distributed computing and web services.

Originally maintained by Oracle, the company transferred ownership to the Eclipse Foundation in 2017, and made the application entirely open source.

What are the specifications of Jakarta EE?

Partnering the fundamentals of Jakarta EE, this versions of the programming language also extends to incorporate some of the basics functionality of Java SE APIs by using technology such as Enterprise JavaBeans, connectors, servlets, JavaServer Pages and other web services technologies.

What is Java ME?

Java ME is a specific Oracle platform targeted at consumer electronics and embedded devices. Housing a collection of technologies and specifications to create mobile applications, it was initially developed as an environment to fit the requirements of particular tools and is based on three elements:

  • A configuration providing the most basic set of libraries and VM capabilities for a broad range of devices.
  • A profile of set APIs that support specific devices.
  • An optional package of technology set APIs.

What are the configurations of Java ME?

Currently, there are two configurations of Java ME for a business to utilise during development. The Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC), is designed to meet the needs of a Java platform running on devices with limited memory, processing power, and graphics.

Whereas the Connected Device Configuration (CDC), is targeted specifically at devices with a network connection and can be used to develop applications for devices such as smartphones.

What are the licensing costs for using Java ME?

The CDC reference implementation code is free of charge for personal and educational use. However, if your business wishes to utilise Java ME, then you must sign a commercial agreement with Oracle.

What is Java FX?

Using a lighter weight user-interface API this Java platforms allows businesses to create rich internet applications. Any Java FX application may be a client of the Java EE platform services.

Which Java releases are currently available?

In the marketplace there are currently two releases of Java available for commercial and personal use.

Java 8 is the current long-term support version of the language that will receive extended support from Oracle until 2019 for commercial users and 2020 for non-commercial users.

The newly released version of the programming language Java 11 — the current rapid release version — will replace Java 8 as the long-term support version.

Following the launch of Java 11, it was announced that Java 12 would be available for commercial and public download in March 2019, with free updates expected to stop in September 2019.

What is the difference between Java 8 SE and Java 11 SE

Java Standard Edition (Java SE) currently has two releases that allow users to develop Java applications. Now operating a bi-annual release cycle, Oracle will only provide active support for two versions: its long-term support (LTS) version and rapid release version.

The current rapid release version, Java 11, was launched in September 2018 and introduced 17 new features to the programming language:

  • Nest-Based Access Control
  • Dynamic Class-File Constants
  • Improve Aarch64 Intrinsics
  • Epsilon: A No-Op Garbage Collector
  • Remove the Java EE and CORBA Modules
  • HTTP Client (Standard)
  • Local-Variable Syntax for Lambda Parameters
    Key Agreement with Curve25519 and Curve448
  • Unicode 10
  • Flight Recorder
  • ChaCha20 and Poly1305 Cryptographic Algorithms
  • Launch Single-File Source-Code Programs
  • Low-Overhead Heap Profiling
  • Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.3
  • ZGC: A Scalable Low-Latency Garbage Collector (Experimental)
  • Deprecate the Nashorn JavaScript Engine
  • Deprecate the Pack200 Tools and API

What are the system requirements for Java development?

Java 8

Popular with businesses of all shapes and sizes, Java 8, the current long-term support version of the programming languages, it’s recommended that a company uses the following operating systems, servers, and web browsers:


  • Windows 10 (8u51 and above)
  • Windows 8.x (Desktop)
  • Windows 7 SP1
  • Windows Vista SP2
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 (64-bit)
  • Browsers: Internet Explorer 9 and above, Firefox

Mac OS X

  • Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.8.3+, 10.9+
  • Administrator privileges for installation

A 64-bit browser (Safari, for example) is required to run Oracle Java on Mac.

  • Linux
  • Oracle Linux 5.5+1
  • Oracle Linux 6.x (32-bit), 6.x (64-bit)2
  • Oracle Linux 7.x (64-bit)2 (8u20 and above)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5+1, 6.x (32-bit), 6.x (64-bit)2
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.x (64-bit)2 (8u20 and above)
  • Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP2+, 11.x
  • Suse Linux Enterprise Server 12.x (64-bit)2 (8u31 and above)
  • Ubuntu Linux 12.04 LTS, 13.x
  • Ubuntu Linux 14.x (8u25 and above)
  • Ubuntu Linux 15.04 (8u45 and above)
  • Ubuntu Linux 15.10 (8u65 and above)
  • Browsers: Firefox

Java 11

The latest edition of the language, Java 11 follows much of the same programming rules, but if you choose to use this version, there are slight differences which a business should take into account.


  • Windows 10 (8u51 and above)
  • Windows 8.x (Desktop)
  • Windows 7 SP1
  • Windows Vista SP2
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 (64-bit)
  • Browsers: Internet Explorer 9 and above, Firefox

Mac OS X

  • Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.8.3+, 10.9+
  • Administrator privileges for installation

A 64-bit browser (Safari, for example) is required to run Oracle Java on Mac.


  • Oracle Linux 5.5+1
  • Oracle Linux 6.x (32-bit), 6.x (64-bit)2
  • Oracle Linux 7.x (64-bit)2 (8u20 and above)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5+1, 6.x (32-bit), 6.x (64-bit)2
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.x (64-bit)2 (8u20 and above)
  • Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP2+, 11.x
  • Suse Linux Enterprise Server 12.x (64-bit)2 (8u31 and above)
  • Ubuntu Linux 12.04 LTS, 13.x
  • Ubuntu Linux 14.x (8u25 and above)
  • Ubuntu Linux 15.04 (8u45 and above)
  • Ubuntu Linux 15.10 (8u65 and above)
  • Browsers: Firefox

Top Java Certifications

There are many commercial certifications available for developers to gain a more in-depth knowledge of the programming language. Adding a Java certification to your portfolio can also add to your chances of getting hired, as many businesses value the extra string to your bow.

What are the Java certifications by Oracle?

As the owner of the Java programming language, Oracle offers four certifications specifically for those looking to gain a deeper understanding of Java fundamentals, or more advanced knowledge of the language specialities.

There are multiple versions of each certification available, so when choosing which is right you, it can come down to cost and your previous knowledge of the programming language.

What Java SE Certifications are available?

For a developer looking to gain extra knowledge of the Java SE platform, there are three levels of certification available. Java SE associate, professional, and master.

Each of these examinations will require a developer to have a basic understanding of the language and previous working knowledge of the Java Development Kit (JDK) and the Java Runtime Environment.

What are the costs of a Java SE associate certification?

 Examination  Cost
 Java Foundation Certified Junior Associate  £60
 Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 7 Programmer  £198
 Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 8 Programmer  £198
 Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 5 / SE 6  £198

What are the costs of a Java SE professional certification?

 Examination  Cost
Oracle Certified Professional, JAVA SE 8 Programmer  £198
Oracle Certified Professional, JAVA SE 8 Programmer (upgrade from Java SE 6 and prior versions  £198
Oracle Certified Professional, JAVA SE 8 Programmer (upgrade from Java SE 7)  £198
Oracle Certified Professional, JAVA SE 7 Programmer  £198
Oracle Certified Professional, JAVA SE 7 Programmer (upgrade)  £198
Oracle Certified Professional, JAVA SE 6 Programmer  £198
Oracle Certified Professional, JAVA SE 6 Programmer (upgrade)  £198

What are the costs of a Java SE Master certification?

 Examination  Cost
Java Developer Certified Master Assignment  $245
Java SE 6 Developer Certified Master Assignment  $245
Java SE 6 Developer Certified Master Essay  $245

What Java EE certifications are available?

If you’re already an expert in the Java programming language, and you’re looking for that extra spark to help you stand out from the crowd during an interview situation, then gaining a Java EE certification could be your best bet.

Before taking the examination, it’s recommended that you complete one of the following courses offered by Oracle, and also have a strong technical understanding of the language.

  • Architect Enterprise applications with Java EE
  • Developing Applications for the Java EE 6 Platform
  • Java Design Patterns
  • Java EE 6: Develop Business Components with JMS & EJBs
  • Java EE 6: Develop Database Applications with JPA
  • Java SE 7 Fundamentals
  • Java SE 7 Programming
  • Web Component Development with Servlets & JSPs, Java EE 6
  • Java EE 6: Develop Web Services with JAX-WS & JAX-RS
  • Java EE 7: New Features
  • Object-Oriented Analysis and Design Using UML
  • Java SE 8 Fundamentals
  • Java SE 8: Programming
  • Developing Applications with Java EE 6 on WebLogic Server 12c

What are the costs of a Java EE master certification?

 Examination  Cost
Java EE 6 Enterprise Architect Certified Master  $150
Java (EE) Enterprise Architect Certified Master Assignment  $150


Technical aspects of Java

What is the difference between a JDK, JVM, and JRE?

When implementing Java into your business, you’ll need to get to grips with more than just the fundamental aspects of Java development.

The first three technical terms you should familiarise yourself with are JRE, JDK, and JVM. These three tools used to create applications will crop up a lot throughout Java development, and if you’re unsure of how they can help your business, you may struggle.

  • A Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is an environment in which Java applications run.
  • A Java Developer Kit (JDK) includes everything a developer needs to write and compile Java code.
  • A Java Virtual Machine (JVM) allows Java to be written once, and run any platform (Windows, Mac, Linux)

What other Java virtual machine languages are there?

Although you most commonly develop in Java, there are other languages which can be successfully coded and deployed on a JVM. Generally used to partner Java during the development process, they have key features which the language doesn’t have itself.


This is a high performing, stable, fully threaded Java implementation of the Ruby programming language.


Although the syntax is not compatible with Java, Kotlin is one of the most common languages to run on the JVM. Koplin is a fully supported language in the Android Studio and is included in 3.0 as an alternative to the standard Java compiler.


Scala fuses object-orientated model with functional programming ideas together, allowing developers to use many of the features you typically would in Java.

Allowing the users to get the best of both worlds, it lets programmers express algorithms more clearly than in Java.

What is an Integrated Developer Environment (IDE)?

An IDE is a software application that provides developers with all the tools they’ll need to create a piece of software. Typically an IDE contains a source code editor, build automation tool, and debugger. Many businesses and developers have an IDE that they stick to for all development processes.

What are the most popular Java IDEs?


An open source IDE, Eclipse can handle a variety of development frameworks. Famous for its integrated Java development environment, it also has a specific package that can be utilised by Java EE developers. Easily customisable with several extensions available in the marketplace.


Another popular cross-platform IDE that features multi-language support, bracket matching, debugger, and coding templates. There are two versions currently available: a free community edition and an ultimate edition which supports the Java language right from the get-go.

What are the most popular Java frameworks?

Frameworks are prewritten pieces of code that you can add to your domain to solve issues. When used with Java, there are many popular frameworks which can add extra elements to the programming language.


Used as web framework by business and developers, Spring offers a complete programming model that is developed on and with the Java programming language. Spring provides applications a way to get up and running with Spring Boot, build resilient cloud applications with Spring Cloud, and is one of the most popular frameworks available.


Hibernate ORM is a framework that used as an object-relational mapping tool for Java which allows for the creation of regional databases. Its primary feature is to map Java classes to a database table, and it also provides data query and retrieval features.

What is the difference between an API and a framework?

A framework is a group of classes and other pre-compiled code on which an application can be built. An API is the features and libraries used to develop an application.

What is the difference between an IDE and Framework?

An IDE is the software used to develop and compile the code for an application and will include all the tools to do it successfully. A framework will add to and extend the development language and is normally written by a third party but can be integrated into a specific project.

What are Java servlets?

When used in Java, a servlet is a Java program that extends the capabilities of a server. Usually an aspect of development that responds to a specific network request, most commonly the HTTP request.

What is Maven?

Maven is a tool that can be used for dependency management, build definition and packaging Java projects

How does agile development work?

Agile development is a series of methodologies and strategies based on being responsive to change. Typical implementations include Scrum (the most common) and Kanban. It encourages smaller iterations of deliverables, and greater customer/client engagement with feedback driving future development cycles.

What is waterfall development?

Often outdated these days, Waterfall development can still be used to effectively create applications and software. In waterfall, requirement are planned before the start of development, and delivery is defined into specific phases.

What are JavaSever Pages (JSP)?

JSP is a technology that allows software developers to generate web pages based on HTML, XML, and other document types. Although it is similar to the PHP, it runs using the Java programming language.

What is JBoss?

Now Wildfly, JBoss is an open-source application server that is written in Java and is used to implement Java EE applications.

We hope our guide into the fundamentals and the more technical aspects of Java has helped you to gain a deeper understanding on what your development team is getting their hands on.

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