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Java is one of the most popular and widely used programming languages in the world. Its dominance of the TIOBE index ranking is unmatched for the most part, holding the number 1 position for almost 20 years.

Although Java’s dominance is unlikely to waver over the next 12 months, there are many important issues and announcements that will demand the attention of Java developers. So, get ready for 2019 with this list of key things in the Java world to watch out for.

#1 Commercial Java SE users will now need a license

Perhaps the most important change for Java in 2019 is that commercial users will have to pay a license fee to use Java SE from February. This move comes in as Oracle decided to change the support model for the Java language. This change currently affects Java SE 8 which is an LTS release with premier and extended support up to March 2022 and 2025 respectively.

For individual users, however, the support and updates will continue till December 2020. The recently released Java SE 11 will also have long term support with five and extended eight-year support from the release date.

#2 The Java 12 release in March 2019

Since Oracle changed their support model, non-LTS version releases will be bi-yearly and probably won’t contain many major changes. JDK 12 is non-LTS, that is not to say that the changes in it are trivial, it comes with its own set of new features. It will be generally available in March this year and supported until September which is when Java 13 will be released. Java 12 will have a couple of new features, some of them are approved to ship in its March release and some are under discussion.

#3 Java 13 release slated for September 2019, with early access out now

So far, there is very little information about Java 13. All we really know at the moment is that it’s’ due to be released in September 2019. Like Java 12, Java 13 will be a non-LTS release.

However, if you want an early insight, there is an early access build available to test right now. Some of the JEP (JDK Enhancement Proposals) in the next section may be set to be featured in Java 13, but that’s just speculation.

#4 A bunch of new features in Java in 2019

Even though the major long term support version of Java, Java 11, was released last year, releases this year also have some new noteworthy features in store. Let’s take a look at what the two releases this year might have.

Confirmed candidates for Java 12

  • A new low pause time compiler called Shenandoah is added to cause minimal interruption when a program is running. It is added to match modern computing resources. The pause time will be the same irrespective of the heap size which is achieved by reducing GC pause times.
  • The Microbenchmark Suite feature will make it easier for developers to run existing testing benchmarks or create new ones.
  • Revamped switch statements should help simplify the process of writing code. It essentially means the switch statement can also be used as an expression.
  • The JVM Constants API will, the OpenJDK website explains, “introduce a new API to model nominal descriptions of key class-file and run-time artifacts”.
  • Integrated with Java 12 is one AArch64 port, instead of two.
  • Default CDS Archives.
  • G1 mixed collections.

Other features that may not be out with Java 12

  • Raw string literals will be added to Java.
  • A Packaging Tool, designed to make it easier to install and run a self-contained Java application on a native platform.
  • Limit Speculative Execution to help both developers and operations engineers more effectively secure applications against speculative-execution vulnerabilities.

#5 More contributions and features with OpenJDK

OpenJDK is an open source implementation of Java standard edition (Java SE) which has contributions from both Oracle and the open-source community. As of now, the binaries of OpenJDK are available for the newest LTS release, Java 11. Even the life cycles of OpenJDK 7 and 8 have been extended to June 2020 and 2023 respectively. This suggests that Oracle does seem to be interested in the idea of open source and community participation. And why would it not be? Many valuable contributions come from the open source community. Microsoft seems to have benefitted from open sourcing with the incoming submissions.

Although Oracle will not support these versions after six months from initial release, Red Hat will be extending support. As the chief architect of the Java platform, Mark Reinhold said stewards are the true leaders who can shape what Java should be as a language. These stewards can propose new JEPs, bring new OpenJDK problems to notice leading to more JEPs and contribute to the language overall.

#6 Mobile and machine learning job opportunities

In the mobile ecosystem, especially Android, Java is still the most widely used language. Yes, there’s Kotlin, but it is still relatively new. Many developers are yet to adopt the new language. According to an estimated by Indeed, the average salary of a Java developer is about $100K in the U.S. With the Android ecosystem growing rapidly over the last decade, it’s not hard to see what’s driving Java’s value.

But Java – and the broader Java ecosystem – are about much more than mobile. Although Java’s importance in enterprise application development is well known, it’s also used in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Even if Python is arguably the most used language in this area, Java does have its own set of libraries and is used a lot in enterprise environments. Deeplearning4j, Neuroph, Weka, OpenNLP, RapidMiner, RL4J etc are some of the popular Java libraries in artificial intelligence.

#7 Java conferences in 2019

Now that we’ve talked about the language, possible releases and new features let’s take a look at the conferences that are going to take place in 2019. Conferences are a good medium to hear top professionals present, speak, and programmers to socialize. Even if you can’t attend, they are important fixtures in the calendar for anyone interested in following releases and debates in Java.

Here are some of the major Java conferences in 2019 worth checking out:

  • JAX is a Java architecture and software innovation conference. To be held in Mainz, Germany happening May 6–10 this year, the Expo is from May 7 to 9. Other than Java, topics like agile, Cloud, Kubernetes, DevOps, microservices and machine learning are also a part of this event. They’re offering discounts on passes till February 14.
  • JBCNConf is happening in Barcelona, Spain from May 27. It will be a three-day conference with talks from notable Java champions. The focus of the conference is on Java, JVM, and open-source technologies.
  • Jfokus is a developer-centric conference taking place in Stockholm, Sweden. It will be a three-day event from February 4-6. Speakers include the Java language architect, Brian Goetz from Oracle and many other notable experts. The conference will include Java, of course, Frontend & Web, cloud and DevOps, IoT and AI, and future trends.
  • One of the biggest conferences is JavaZone attracting thousands of visitors and hundreds of speakers will be 18 years old this year. Usually held in Oslo, Norway in the month of September. Their website for 2019 is not active at the time of writing, you can check out last year’s website.
  • Javaland will feature lectures, training, and community activities. Held in Bruehl, Germany from March 19 to 21 attendees can also exhibit at this conference.

If you’re working in or around Java this year, there’s clearly a lot to look forward to – as well as a few unanswered questions about the evolution of the language in the future. While these changes might not impact the way you work in the immediate term, keeping on top of what’s happening and what key figures are saying will set you up nicely for the future.

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