Java has been the backbone of enterprise apps for many years and until recently the programming language of choice for building Android apps.

But how are developers using the language? A new analysis has illuminated the type of jobs performed by developers who primarily work with Java, as well as the technology these Java devs use to do their job.

The analysis is based on data from the annual Stack Overflow survey, one of the most comprehensive snapshots of how programmers work, with this year’s poll being taken by almost 90,000 developers across the globe. The data was parsed with the help of a tool provided by Count.

What is Java used for?

Unsurprisingly, most Java developers consider themselves to be back-end developers, writing apps and wrangling databases that run on servers. That tallies with the use of Java by many businesses, where the programming language is used to develop and support server-side software that underpins in-house and customer-facing apps.

However, it seems that an increasing number of Java developers now describe themselves as full-stack developers, working with languages such as JavaScript to develop front-end technologies — those that run in the browser or on native platforms — as well as back-end tech. Interestingly, a significant proportion of Java developers regard themselves primarily as front-end developers.

Java’s role as the language of choice for developing Android apps, until Google’s recent decision to favor Kotlin, is also evident, with mobile developer one of the top five roles for Java devs, alongside the more general desktop and enterprise app developer.

What are Java developers most popular IDEs and code editors?

When it comes to the most popular Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) and code editors, the top choice is JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA, a longtime favorite among Java devs.
However, Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code editor, only released four years ago, seems to be rapidly growing in popularity and is almost neck-and-neck with IntelliJ IDEA. Since the Stack Overflow data was compiled, Microsoft has released a series of improvements to make VS Code even more appealing to Java developers, including making it easier to set up for editing Java and adding a range of Java-specific features.
A fair distance behind was the extensible code editor Notepad++, followed by Android Studio IDE, built on IntelliJ IDEA but with tooling tailored to building apps for the mobile platform, and then the venerable Eclipse IDE, which historically was one of the most popular for Java development.

Image: Stack Overflow / Count / Nick Heath

What are Java developers most popular databases?

The old favorite MySQL tops Java developers list of databases, followed by the fast SQLite, the versatile PostgreSQL, and the longstanding Microsoft SQL Server.

Image: Stack Overflow / Count / Nick Heath

What are Java developers most popular web frameworks?

JavaScript’s dominance of the web is evident, with the old favorite JS web framework JQuery topping the most popular list among Java devs. However, the Java application design framework Spring is not far behind, with Spring offering an MVC component for building web applications using the Model View Controller design pattern.
Competing for third and fourth place are the popular Angular and React.js frameworks for building web apps. Finally, there is more evidence of the crossover between between Java and JavaScript when it comes to the web, with the Express.js web app framework for the JavaScript runtime environment Node.js being the fifth most popular.

Image: Stack Overflow / Count / Nick Heath

Which platforms do Java developers work with?

For platform worked with, developers were asked which platforms they’ve done extensive work for over the past year. Given the open nature of the question, the answers are broad and a bit messy, mixing together operating systems with cloud computing platforms.
Regardless, Linux-based operating systems topped the list, followed by Microsoft’s Windows OS, Google’s mobile OS Android, the container platform Docker and the public cloud computing platform AWS.

Image: Stack Overflow / Count / Nick Heath

If you’re interested in learning more about Java, check out the 10 highest-ranked, English-language repositories on GitHub designed to help those learning Java.