Java Virtual Machine (JVM) enables web developers to run Java programs on any device or operating system. The Java Virtual Machine fulfills the underlying philosophy of the Java programming language, “write once, run anywhere.”
While JVM was initially created to revolve around the Java language, in today’s diverse software development environment, several programming languages are supported by JVM.
This post will examine the most popular JVM languages. Of course, there are more JVM languages than can be covered in this post, but we will thoroughly explore the JVM languages most important to modern software and web development efforts.
However, before we begin, let’s take a closer look at the programming language Java and how JVM came to exist in the first place.
A Brief History of Java Code and JVM
Java is an object-oriented programming language best known for its cross-platform portability. So how does Java software achieve such portability and flexibility? Through the use of a JVM.
JVM is the engine that runs Java code by converting it into Java Bytecode using a Java compiler. To successfully run Java on your computer or system, you need a JVM implementation. There are JVM implementations for every platform and system.
The most popular JVM implementations are offered by Oracle and OpenJDK. JVM and Java Bytecode enables Java platform implementation on any system, which gives developers more freedom and flexibility.
Over the years, Java has evolved beyond the object-oriented programming paradigm and adopted elements of other programming paradigms, such as functional programming.
An object-oriented language instructs the program on how to achieve desired results by altering the program’s state. In comparison, a functional programming language features the use of immutable data structures to tell the program exactly what to do and how to do it.
Object-oriented and functional paradigms are both capable of producing elegant code.
It wasn’t long before developers realized they could also use JVM and Java Bytecode to run their programming languages. JVM gives developers greater flexibility, access to Java libraries, and high-performance levels.
Now that you know more about Java and JVM, it is vital to understand the other JVM languages that can be utilized for development projects.
The Most Popular JVM Languages
There are many other JVM languages besides Java. Therefore, when we use the term JVM language, we refer to any programming language that JVM supports.
We will only cover the top JVM languages in this post. However, you can learn more about alternative JVM languages by contacting an experienced app development partner.
Your organization should choose the JVM language it is most comfortable using. Your development team likely has expertise in a specific programming language or two. If this is the case, choose that JVM language for development projects.
The top JVM programming languages include:
Scala is a general-purpose programming language that supports object-oriented and functional programming. In addition, Scala is also a statically typed programming language.
Scala reduces code errors in complicated applications through static typing. This statically typed language was first introduced to the world in 2004, but it has become more popular with developers in recent years.
As a language that utilizes the object-oriented paradigm, Scala can easily manage user demands in a small or a large macro system.
Scala is fully interoperable with the Java ecosystem and heavily leverages Java frameworks and libraries.
Since Scala utilizes object-oriented and functional programming paradigms, it is often used in data engineering, data processing, and distributed computing systems.
Kotlin is well known for being the native programming language of Android app development. Kotlin was developed with the JVM Bytecode in mind as an improvement to Java.
Compared to Java, Kotlin is faster, offers higher performance levels, and is easier to learn.
Like Scala, Kotlin is a statically typed language that utilizes paradigms from object-oriented and functional programming. Kotlin was developed to simplify web and mobile app development.
While Kotlin is known for native Android development, this modern programming language is also supported on other platforms such as Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Kotlin is an easy language to manage and create robust applications with.
Clojure is a functional programming language that is a dialect of the LISP language. Unlike other JVM languages, Clojure also runs on Microsoft’s Common Language Runtime and can be executed in .NET environments.
Clojure combines the attributes of a scripting language and a multithreaded programming language. Clojure treats code as data and utilizes a macro system. While Clojure is a compiled language, it equally supports all features at runtime.
Thanks to elements such as type interface and optional type hints, Clojure offers simple availability to Java frameworks.
Groovy is a dynamic domain-specific language that is also considered an object-oriented language. It supports static typing and static compilation capabilities.
Groovy aims to make development more efficient and productive by offering a simple syntax. Furthermore, Groovy integrates seamlessly with Java programs and enables powerful enhancements, such as runtime and compile-time meta-programming and functional programming features.
While it may not be a traditional scripting language, Groovy offers many of the same benefits developers enjoy while using a powerful scripting language.
Developers familiar with Java will find learning Groovy easy, and it can be used on any Java platform.
Other JVM Languages
There are additional JVM languages beyond the five that we have discussed thus far. Some are domain-specific languages, and others are based on other programming languages popular in alternative contexts.
For example, two of the most popular JVM alternative languages that developers might be interested in are Jython and JRuby.
While these languages are not as popular on JVM as the other languages mentioned above, if you are more comfortable with Ruby or Python, you might prefer to use these JVM implementations instead.
There are many JVM-based languages your developers can choose beyond Java. We have covered the most popular examples of these languages in this post. If you want to learn more about the Java ecosystem and JVM, reach out to an experienced app development partner like Koombea.