Java Versions – Features & Enhancements

As a hugely popular programming language, Java does not require any introduction. The programming language is object-oriented, concurrent and class-based. Java is also designed specifically to minimal implementation dependencies. The programmers can write the Java code once, and run it on multiple platforms without recompilation. However, the programming language is being updated at frequent intervals with additional classes and new features. So while learning Java, the programmers must be familiar with the history of Java versions.

Major Versions of Java – Features and Enhancements

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JDK 1.0: The initial version of Java was released on January 26, 1996. JDK 1.0 requires the private and protected keywords to be used together. The combination provides protection to the form by restricting access to variable or methods to subclasses of a give classes. The capabilities were removed with the release of JDK 1.0.2.

JDK 1.1: JDK 1.1 was released on February 19, 1997 with a set of major additions. It came with JDBC, JavaBeans, RMI, additional inner classes, and Just in Time (JIT) compiler for Microsoft Windows platform. It also came with an addition called reflection that supported Introspection, without allowing any modification at the run time.

J2SE 1.2: Sun Microsystems rename replace JDK with J2SE (Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition) to distinguish the J2EE and J2ME. J2SE 1.2 increases the size of the platform by adding 1520 classes in 59 packages. It also came with several major additions including Java plug-in, Java IDL, strict keyword, and Collections framework. JESE 1.2 also availed the Sun’s JVM that was equipped for the first time with a JIT compiler.

J2SE 1.3: JESE 1.3 was released on May 8, 2000 with several notable changes and enhancements. It came with JavaSound, Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI), Java Platform Debugger Architecture (JPDA), and HotSpot JVM. The RMI feature was also modified to support optional compatibility with CORBA.

J2SE 1.4: The Java platform was developed under the Java Community Process for the first time, and released on February 6, 2002. It came with a number of language changes and library improvements. The language changes include assert keyword. Also, it included several library improvements including exception chaining, regular expressions, support for IPv6, image I/O API, logging API, Preferences API, Java Web Start, and integrated XML parser.

J2SE 5.0: Sun renamed J2SE 1.5 as J2SE 5.0 to reflect a higher level of maturity, stability, scalability and security. J2SE 5.0 was released on September 30, 2004 with a number of new language features and standard library improvements. The significant language features include Metadata or annotations, autoboxing and unboxing, varages, enumerations, static imports, and enhanced for each loop. Likewise, the standard library improvements include scanner class, currency utilities, swing and automatic stub generation for RMI objects.

Java SE 6: Sun renamed J2SE as Java Standard Edition (SE), and released Java SE 6 on December 11, 2006. Java SE 6 came with a number of major changes including scripting Language Support, improved Web Service support, Java Compiler API (JSR 199), JVM improvements, and support for JDBC 4.0. It also came with a number of GUI improvements like table sorting and filtering, and integration of SwingWorker in the API.

Java SE 7: Java SE 7 was released on July 28, 2011 with several changes and additions. It came with compressed 64-bit pointers, JVM support for dynamic languages, automatic resource management in try-statement, simplified varargs method declaration, catching multiple exception types, new platform APIs for the graphics features, and enhanced library-level support for new network protocols.

Java SE 8: The most recent version of Java SE was released on March 18, 2014. Java SE 8 includes some features that were dropped from the previous version. It comes with both language and library changes. The major library changes include improved date and time API. At the same time, it also comes with a number of language changes including lambda expressions, annotations for Java types, and continuation of Project Coin.

However, it is always important for the developers to use the most recent version of Java to avail the several new and innovative features. Each update further makes the programming language effective in reducing the amount of time and effort required for building large software applications. Also, the programmers can use several Java frameworks to complete the development project within a stipulated period of time.

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