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Peter Lawrey

Should Java be more high level or low level?


Java 8 is bringing much antisipated features such as Lambda expressions, Type Annotations and Virtual Extensions. While this functionality is a) valuable, b) playing catch up with cooler languages, are these richer, higher level functionality the only area Java should be focused.

What are the most widely used languages

There are many ways to assess which are the most widely used languages. One index which attempts to consider a wide variety of sources is the Tiobe Index. The positions and ratings are taken from Jan 2013.

PositionProgramming LanguageRatingsAgeCoolerLevel
1C17.9%oldernolower (much)
5C#6.2%neweryeslower (slightly)
7(Visual) Basic4.7%oldernosame?
12Visual Basic .NET1.0%newernohigher
15Delphi/Object Pascal0.9%oldernohigher
19Assembly0.6%oldernolower (much)

The “Age” is based on the initial release date, the “cooler” is purely subjective on my part, and the “Level” column is whether the language supports lower level functionality or is it designed to be more abstract/higher level.

What I take from this list that there are many higher level languages, but the really popular ones support lower level constructs. e.g. Java is the only one in the top 5 not to support structs directly. (It has an optimisation which can work aorund this to a small degree)


While Java should be looking to add higher level functionality, it should also consider the lower level features languages like the *C* languages support as these are likely to become more popular as there will be more mobile and embedded devices in the future.

Reference: Should Java be more high level or low level? from our JCG partner Peter Lawrey at the Vanilla Java blog.

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Werner Keil
Werner Keil

To be precise, all Java 8 will bring is “low level” compiler support for Type Annotations, there isn’t a single actual annotation nor Checker that will be part of JDK 8, that’s up to individual projects. So each “Pet Project” will have its “Pet Annotations”.

The “Annotation Hell” already becomes obvious if you look at Null-checks. @Nullable competes with @NonNull, @NotNull, @CannotBeNull, @SholdNotBeNull and who knows how many other variations ;-/