Why Java is the right choice for agile software development

Why Java is the right choice for agile software development

Dec 8, 2022
Dmitry Chuyko

Agility — the ability to respond to changes rapidly and adapt to shifting market trends — is the only way for an enterprise to stay successful in a turbulent world. As far as the IT industry is concerned, agile software development means providing value to users in small increments rather than large releases while continuously evaluating feedback and requirements. It allows the team to introduce changes and generate value in market dynamism quickly. 

Agile is a mindset described in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. This article will not delve deep into how to build an agile enterprise. We will make a case for Java as a perfect language for Agile and give you a solution for laying out the pipeline for delivering a high-quality product to customers in an ever-changing environment.

Java changes rapidly

A perfect programming language for software development embraces Agile methodologies itself. With six releases per year — two functional ones and four CPUs — improvements are introduced incrementally, and new features are added constantly in response to developers’ demand and general IT trends.

Features are first introduced in Experimental, Preview, or Incubator mode before becoming permanent so developers can try them out and give feedback. On the contrary, some features are marked as deprecated and later removed because APIs evolve, better methods arrive, and there’s no need to keep an obsolete feature around. 

In addition, there are projects developed parallel to the main OpenJDK project. They promise global changes to Java code; therefore, they need extensive testing before merging them with OpenJDK. The latest example is the introduction of virtual threads (part of Project Loom) to JDK 19 that take Java concurrency to a new level.

By embracing the newest Java features, developers can enhance the product they work on in the most convenient and modern way. 

Java is versatile

Building upon the previous statement, the enhancements introduced to Java make it the ultimate language for any system or environment. A company can safely introduce new processes and platforms or migrate to the Cloud — Java will support them all:

  • Do you want to migrate an application to the Cloud or create a cloud-native solution from scratch? With Java, you can build small and performant containers, Docker containers with the Spring framework and Maven plugin, and use Cloud Native Buildpacks to accelerate the deployment
  • Do you want to embrace innovation and experiment with RISC-V? Java performs perfectly well on the embedded market and has a RISC-V port implemented since JDK 19
  • Do you want to accelerate development and testing? Build a Java-based container compatible with all system configurations. It can be used for development, testing, and deployment, thus accelerating the CI/CD pipeline and saving time for your teams
  • Do you have a mobile app and want to build a desktop version for enhanced user experience? Use JavaFX, an open-source platform for developing rich client applications

Moreover, you may notice deterioration in the performance of your product with load increase or due to some other external factors. With Java, you will be able to react promptly to those changes thanks to numerous performance tuning techniques and solutions for performance enhancement.

Java exists in an extensive ecosystem of frameworks and tools

For 27 years, Java has accumulated a rich ecosystem of tools, libraries, and frameworks that enable companies to meet the requirements for modern software development.

  • The most popular Java frameworks — Spring, MicroProfile, Quarkus, etc. — help developers create any application. In addition, the frameworks above offer numerous features that simplify development and testing. For instance, they support Constructor-based Dependency Injection, which helps to achieve loose coupling and avoid testing errors, and increases thread safety in multi-threaded environments. So Java enables the developers to use advanced methodology and patterns, such as CDI, AOP, etc.
  • Java functions in powerful IDEs: Eclipse IDE, IntelliJ IDEA, and NetBeans. They equip the developers with a rich toolset and code assistance that facilitate and accelerate development. In addition, they promote team cooperation with utilities for code review, project management, CI/CD tools, etc.
  • Maven and Gradle — open-source build tools for Java applications — automate code compilation, testing, and packaging, thus making the build process convenient and reliable and allowing for shipping high-quality software faster
  • GraalVMa new Java Virtual Machine based on HotSpot but with Graal as a compiler — makes polyglot programming a reality. It supports the seamless integration of multiple programming languages (JVM and non-JVM-based) into one project and their interoperability. Companies can add new features to their software products using the strengths of Java, Python, C++, etc., enhance cooperation between teams working with different languages, and all of that in the Cloud!

The fact that Java supports a large variety of technologies gives room to creative thinking and experiments, which are an integral part of Agile methodologies. 

Java facilitates test-driven development

Test-driven development (TDD) is one of the best Agile software development practices. It ensures that bugs are caught during development rather than by end-users and increases code quality and developer productivity.

Java provides excellent tools to integrate TDD at the company, for instance:

  • Various testing frameworks such as JUnit and Mockito. JUnit provides tooling for unit tests when individual modules of software are tested. Mockito is a mocking framework that can create mock classes and interfaces to test specific behavior.
  • JMeter, a utility for performance testing. It can be used for load simulation to evaluate software performance under different loads and thus avoid unexpected behavior later on 
  • Testcontainers, a Java library that provides lightweight instances of databases or any technology that can run in a Docker container for data access, application integration, UI testing, and so on

Java facilitates incremental releases

Java promotes incremental software releases through sensible dependency management with Maven or Gradle, Maven Central, multiple testing frameworks described above, and simple containerization. Java-based containers can be as small as 42,72 MB reducing the push/pull times from 30 s to a couple of seconds, so your developers can test the code or send it to production much faster. In addition, there are different approaches to packaging a Java application: thick, thin, or skinny jars. The last two are optimal solutions for

  • dev and test environments. With thin or skinny jars, your container doesn’t include app dependencies, which are stored in a local repository, so the package size is minimized, and deployment times are decreased
  • Layered container images. By separating app components into layers, you can put the most frequently used ones on top and leave others on the bottom. So when you have to update the image, only the top layers are affected

Key solutions for CI/CD, such as Jenkins and TeamCity, are based on Java and so are the perfect match for companies utilizing Java.

Alpaquita Cloud Native Platform: an end-to-end solution for agile enterprises 

What if we took Java, reinforced it with a lightweight Linux distribution, and put it into a small customizable container?

BellSoft engineers created a versatile solution for Cloud and server development — Alpaquita Cloud Native Platform (ACNP), which includes

  • Liberica JDK, a progressive Java runtime with the broadest range of supported systems
  • Alpaquita Linux, a small Linux distribution (base image only 3.22 MB) tailor-made for Java. Alpaquita comes with two libc implementations (optimized musl and glibc) and four mallocs for any workload 
  • Liberica Native Image Kit, a utility for generating native images with startup time reduced to 1/10s
  • LTS support from a single vendor for both Java and Linux

ACNP is a perfect match for Agile software development: it enables you to unify and standardize the corporate tech stack, thus eliminating compatibility issues and accelerating CI/CD. ACNP is suitable for multi-cloud, hybrid cloud, or server applications, so you won't need additional instruments even if you decide to shift environments or expand your business. Alpaquita Linux is fully customizable: remove or add packages from Alpaquita repositories for your purposes. Finally, ACNP provides the smallest containers, always secure and performant, thanks to timely updates.

Work with a single vendor who will take care of your runtime and OS and concentrate on generating value for your customers!

Learn more about ACNP

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