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2014 Java Survey: Jenkins, Scala, JUnit, Gradle, Maven, Eclipse Among Hot Technologies for Java Devs

Would you be surprised to learn that 82.5 percent of Java developers responding to a recently conducted survey said they favor the JUnit testing framework? Or that 70 percent reported an affinity for the Jenkins CI Server? Or that 69 percent prefer Git for version control? Or that 48 percent of developers reported using the Eclipse IDE? Yeah, me neither. But those were just a few of the stats -- both expected and surprising -- assembled from the latest survey of in-the-trenches Java developers by RebelLabs, the research and content arm of Java toolmaker Zeroturnaround.

This is the fifth year the Estonia-based company, probably best known as the maker of the JRebel JVM plug-in, has delved into the state of the Java developer tools-and-tech landscape with a global survey.

The results published in the 35-plus-page report, which came out last week, were gleaned from the 2,164 software developers responding to questions about what they like, what they do, and what they're interested in. "This survey rocked," said RebelLabs head honcho Oliver White in the report's intro (and his blog). White and his crew got a "better-than-ever responses" this year, he said, and the respondents even donated to charity.

Most of what you'll find in these survey results won't blow you away, but I, for one, like to see the numbers when someone thoughtful goes to the trouble of assembling them. It's a snapshot, to be sure, but it's a crisp one.

Among the survey's more intriguing numbers: Scala was among the JVM languages generating the most interest among Java developers. In fact, 47 percent said they'd like to learn it. Gradle topped the wish list of build tools the respondents would like to learn (58 percent), though only 11 percent reported actually using it. (64 percent said they currently use Maven). And more than a third of respondents said that "getting familiar with" Java 8 was one of their highest priorities in 2015. Also, a huge majority of respondents (71 percent) reported working on Web applications, with 15 percent working on libraries or frameworks, 11 percent working on desktop apps, and on 3 percent working on mobile apps. That last number surprised me, but White explained it in the report this way: "Presumably, the majority of mobile app developers are selecting not Java ME (SE embedded), but rather Dalvik (Android) or iOS."

The cumulative answers to the survey question about which version of Java respondents are using now was edifying: Most reported using Java SE 7 (65 percent), but one in four said they are still using Java SE 6. Adoption of the newly released Java SE 8 came in at 7 percent, but the report authors saw that as surprisingly, given that only a few application servers currently support it.

Most respondents reported using Java EE (68 percent), which confirmed the authors' expectations that the surveyed group was representative of the enterprise Java development segment. Most reported using Java EE 6 (49 percent), and about a third reported using Java EE 7. And here's a surprise: 1 in 6 developers responding to this survey reported that they are still using Java EE 5.

There's lots more in this report, including some fun fact about job titles, more on JVM languages, IDE preferences, and App Server stats. The report also quotes a number of Java jocks and luminaries. My favorite is from German technology consultant Markus Eisele, who, according to his blog bio, works daily with customers and projects dealing with Enterprise level Java and infrastructures:

"Java has been called 'dead' for years. But it's vital and new language versions get adopted with the industry-typical restrained uptake. For both Java SE and Java EE, nearly 2/3 of participants [in the survey] are on the latest two releases. The faster uptake on the EE side clearly expresses how important developer productivity and ease of use are today."

The 2014 RebelLabs 5th Java Tools and Technologies Report is available for download from the RebelLabs Web site. It's worth noting, too, that RebelLabs maintains a collection of over 25 technical publications, also available online.

Posted by John K. Waters on May 28, 2014