Java SE Development Kit (JDK)

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“Write once, run everywhere.” This was the motto that made the Java Development Kit (JDK) a leader in program development platforms. The Development Kit is billed as all you’ll ever need to write programs in Java, and has always been (and will always be) completely free.


The JDK is the authoritative platform with which to develop applications for the Java programming language: the simple, thread-capable, object-oriented language that has dominated cross-platform development since 1995. The JDK comes in a series of flavors including the Standard Edition (SE), aimed at creators of standalone desktop applications; Enterprise Edition (EE), oriented at creators of network applications; and Micro Edition (ME), designed for creators of mobile apps and similar.

Solaris, Linux, Mac OS and Windows all can run the Development Kit. It is so called because it includes more than 25 individual applications, including the Java compiler, Java document generator, Java Archiver, and Java applet viewer; all of which have been part of Java since the beginning. Needless to say, it also includes the Java Runtime Environment, necessary to run the applications created by the compiler. The Java compiler is extremely helpful; it will describe concisely, and even highlight where on each line it finds a compilation error. The Java document generator automatically creates a fully-navigable website (as a series of HTML files on the local machine) with all the documentation relating to the application developed, taken directly from specially formatted comments in the code.
The Java Archiver allows creating and opening JAR files: compressed, partially-compiled packages designed to ease distribution of custom Java libraries. The Java applet viewer permits previewing web applets before deploying them to users’ web browsers. Finally, the runtime environment contains the virtual machine, and the loader that places the created applications on it.


As a language that runs on a virtual machine, Java is unrivaled. While there are many other cross-platform programming languages (such as Pearl, Python, or Ruby) none of them makes use of a virtual machine; the key that allows Java programs to run on any device (including mobile devices) or within the web browser. There are other development kits to produce Java code, such as The GNU Compiler for Java (GCJ), whose emphasis is on producing native machine code rather than code for the virtual machine; OpenJDK, which ensures the compiled code uses only free software components; and JRockit, which is designed to maximize performance when (and only when) applications are scaled up to use much bigger inputs. None of these development kits support all of the newest features in Java, mainly due to the fact that they’re developed by third parties and update more slowly than the Java release cycle.


The Java Development Kit has, and continues to be, the best way to produce state-of-the-art, portable applications. Its support for every aspect of the development process is unparalleled, even by development kits for other cross-platform languages. Java is well-maintained and will very likely continue to be the leader to use Java’s greatest competitive advantage: the Java virtual machine.


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