In the most recently completed Java.net poll, more than 75% of the developers who chose to vote found there to be good reasons for using a non-Java JVM language. A (perhaps surprising?) 19%, however, considered there to be absolutely no good reason to use anything but Java on the JVM. A total of 181 votes were cast in the poll, and one comment was posted. The exact poll prompt and results were:

The best reason to use a non-Java JVM language is:

  • 23% (42 votes) - More modern language syntax
  • 6% (11 votes) - Better performance
  • 38% (69 votes) - Some non-Java JVM languages are better suited for certain types of programming
  • 8% (15 votes) - If you don't know Java that well, but you know another language that's been ported to the JVM
  • 19% (34 votes) - There's no good reason
  • 6% (10 votes) - Other

It took me a lot of crafting to come up with this poll, and I find the results (though this isn't, of course, a scientific poll) quite interesting. I wonder what people were thinking, in some cases.

First of all, that "Some non-Java JVM languages are better for certain types of programming" won a plurality of the voting seems very reasonable to me. The variety of non-Java JVM languages is already extensive, and it's ever-growing today.

I think the "More modern language syntax" surely was also a very reasonable selection. Some of the language changes in both Java 7 and Java 8 were essentially an attempt to catch up with features offered in other languages (including some popular modern non-JVM languages). Newer JVM languages, where there is no need for backward compatibility, no immense base of legacy code, can be designed from scratch with a fully modern syntax. That syntax, too, can be designed to facilitate the accomplishment of specific types of programming tasks, bringing us back to "Some non-Java JVM languages are better for certain types of programming."

I put the "Better performance" option into the poll largely out of curiosity. Java is not exactly known as a plodding beast when it comes to performance right out of the box, and if you really know what you're doing, you can tune Java to have incredible processing speed, or incredibly low latency, or incredible capability for processing massive volumes of data... I suppose there may be some non-Java JVM languages that, in their native state, already tune the JVM for various high-performance characteristics. I'm hoping, anyway, that that's the kind of thing the 6% who chose "Better performance" were thinking about...

I'm glad to see that only 8% said the best reason to use a non-Java JVM language is "If you don't know Java that well, but you know another language that's been ported to the JVM." I can see using a non-Java JVM language for that reason in a pinch, where you are pretty certain you won't be using the JVM much in the future. But, to become a Jython or JRuby developer simply because you don't want to learn Java probably isn't the best strategy if you're planning a long-term career as a software developer, perhaps some day proceeding into becoming a software architect.

This brings us to the 19% who selected "There's no good reason." I put this option into the poll in part to let some voters have fun and/or show their lifetime allegiance to Java. The question is, did most people select this option for fun? did some select it because they tried out a non-Java JVM language and didn't like it? did some select it because they are barely aware that non-Java JVM languages exist? I wonder... I'm hoping it was mostly proud Java veterans who selected this option.

6% of the votes went to "Other" and pjmlpcommented:

Voted other, as I think it is a set of options and not a single one.

  • Modern syntax
  • Proper support for type inference
  • Value types
  • Reified generics
  • Better FFI support with foreign languages
  • Ability to AOT to native code, if desired, officially supported as part of the reference toolchain

A nice list of reasons, I'd say...

New poll: Update on Java/JVM work opportunities

Every now and then, I like to ask the community about the outlook for work (whether you work at a full-time position at a company, or you're a consultant, or a trainer, or an author, or perhaps you run some other type of Java-related business). Our current poll prompts you to respond to: Where I live, work opportunities for Java/JVM developers are.... Voting will be open until Friday, May 30.

What Java.net poll would you like to see?

If you have a poll idea, get in touch with me by commenting on this blog post, or by sending an email to editor _at_ java.net, or by using our Submit Article/Blog form.


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-- Kevin Farnham (@kevin_farnham)