Study: Java is most-used programming language

The latest study released by New Relic showed that Java 17 user adoption grew 430% in one year following its release in 2021. However, according to the software development company’s State of the Java Ecosystem Report, Java 8 and Java 11 remain the most-used versions.

The findings mean Java is the most dominant platform in modern development.

“Our study attests to Java’s enduring popularity with software developers in every industry and sector as the ecosystem evolves. With the release of Java 17, the platform remains the programming language of choice to support development and growth in the cloud,” Peter Marelas, chief architect, APJ, New Relic, said in a statement. 

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While Java 11 remains popular, the study found that the latest version, judging by the growth in adoption rate will soon become the more dominant version. This is reinforced by the numbers that more than 9% of applications are now using Java 17 in production (up from nearly 2% in 2022), or as mentioned earlier, a growth rate of 430% in one year.

Long-term support

Uptake of non-LTS Java versions remains extremely low compared to LTS versions in production with only 1.6% of applications using non-LTS Java versions (down from 2.7% in 2022). Out of the non-LTS Java versions in use, Java 14 is still the most popular (0.57%, down from 0.95% in 2022) with Java 15 a close second (0.44%, down from 0.70% in 2022).

The report saw that lack of support and waiting period of the next release of could be impacting the decline in non-LTS version usage.

Amazon has surpassed Oracle when it comes to JDK distributorship posting an increase of 31% of the market (up from 2.18% in 2020 and 22% in 2022). Oracle hogged the top spot in 2022 with a 34% market share.

The open-sourcing of Java in the OpenJDK project provided developers with other options which meant finding other vendors other than Oracle. The report said the movement away from Oracle was significant after it imposed restrictions in its JDK 11 licensing.


The research also saw that 70% of Java applications reporting to New Relic do so from a container. 

“Engineering teams are moving away from single-core settings in containers, with only 36% in use (down from over 41% in 2022), and moving toward multi-core settings, with over 29% using an eight-core setting (up from over 19% in 2022),” New Relic said.

New Relic data shows that 65% of customers using Java 11 or later versions use the G1 Garbage collector. One of G1’s primary benefits is that it clears smaller regions instead of clearing large regions all at once, which optimises the collection process. It also rarely freezes execution and can collect both the young and old generations concurrently, making it a great default for engineers.

The data for this report was drawn entirely from applications reporting to New Relic in January 2023 and does not provide a global picture of Java usage. New Relic anonymized and deliberately coarse-grained the appropriate data to give general overviews of the Java ecosystem. 

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