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Whether you’re a senior Java developer or embarking on your journey to become one, having the right tools in your arsenal is not just beneficial – it’s essential. In the dynamic and ever-changing sphere of software development, Java continues to stand as a language of immense power and versatility. In this insightful post, we’re unveiling the core tools for Java developers this year.

The Evolution of Java Development Tools in 2023

As we head into 2024, you want to make sure your toolkit is up to date with the latest and the greatest tools of the trade.

  1. Release of Java 20 and Spring Framework 6.0. These releases have brought significant updates, including new features that leverage JDK 17 improvements. Spring Framework, known for revolutionizing dependency injection and inversion of control, continues to evolve and ehances Java’s capabilities in modern applications​​.
  2. Ease of learning and accessibility. Learning Java has become more accessible than ever. Innovations like JShell and IDEs as a service (e.g. Replit and OneCompiler) have removed many barriers and made Java an increasingly approachable language for beginners​​.
  3. Enhanced Java syntax. Java syntax readability has improved, addressing previous criticisms of verbosity. This evolution makes Java more expressive and easier to maintain than ever before.
  4. Growing support for Java in IDEs. Notably, Visual Studio Code has expanded its support for Java, catering to a wider range of developers and contributing to Java’s universal support across various platforms and services​​.

What are the best tools for Java Developers in 2024?

From innovative IDEs that streamline coding to advanced frameworks that simplify complex processes, we handpicked each tool here with the goal of:

Whether you’re developing cutting-edge apps or maintaining robust systems, these tools will help you unlock a world of possibilities in Java development.

1. IDEs: The Cornerstone of Java Development

As a Java developer, your Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is your most important instrument, and it’s where you’ll spend most of your time coding. Today, the top IDEs for Java development are:

No matter which IDE you choose, make sure it supports the latest JDK and JavaEE versions. An IDE should make you more productive, not hold you back!

With the ability to intuitively navigate projects, seamlessly compile and run code, and quickly fix issues, a fully-featured Java IDE is a necessity for any self-respecting Java developer.

View of IntelliJ IDEA as one of the top Java development tools
IntelliJ IDEA is a common choice among tools for Java developers today.

2. Code Editor: Visual Studio Code

A reliable code editor is an essential part of Java development tools.

Visual Studio Code is a lightweight but powerful source code editor that runs on your desktop. It comes with built-in support for JavaScript, TypeScript, and Node.js and has a rich ecosystem of extensions for other languages (like Java!) and runtimes.

VS Code has built-in Git support, IntelliSense code completion, debugging tools, and embedded terminals. You’ll get refactoring tools, code navigation, and debugging for Java right out of the box.

With IntelliSense, you have smart completions based on variable types, function definitions, and imported packages.

Quick Fixes gives you the option to fix issues like missing semicolons or undefined variables automatically. The debugger lets you step through your code, inspect variables, and set breakpoints.

Should you use VS Code?

Overall, VS Code has a simple, streamlined UI, but don’t let that fool you. Under the hood, it’s a powerful editor with enterprise-level features to boost your productivity.

A view of Visual Studio Code, one of essential tools for Java developers in 2024.
Visual Studio Code supports a wide range of code snippet shortcuts and postfix completion features.

The best part is that it’s free, open source, and available on Windows, macOS, and Linux. For Java devs seeking exceptional coding experience, VS Code delivers.

3. Build Automation Tool: Maven

Maven is a build automation tool used primarily for Java projects. As a Java developer, Maven will make your life much easier by handling dependencies and building processes.

Dependencies

Maven downloads dependencies automatically based on the pom.xml file. No more manually downloading and adding JAR files to your project. Just add the dependency to the pom.xml file and Maven will download it for you.

Builds

Maven uses the pom.xml file to handle the build process. It can compile your code, run tests, package compiled code into a JAR/WAR file, and deploy to servers. No more messy build scripts to maintain.

Plugins

Maven has a robust plugin system so you can customize the build process. 

Need to run Checkstyle? – There’s a plugin for that. Want to write integration tests? – Use the Surefire plugin. Maven has hundreds of plugins to choose from.

Transitive Dependencies

Maven will also download transitive dependencies. So, if Library A depends on Library B, and your entire project depends on Library A, Maven will download both A and B.

Image shows functionality of Maven in pictorial view

Overall, Maven has become a core tool for professional Java developers. It simplifies builds, manages dependencies, and provides a standardized project structure.

4. Version Control System

Version control systems are essential for any software engineer, and Git is by far the most popular choice, making it one of the go-to tools for Java developers.

Git

Git is a distributed version control system designed for the efficient handling of both small and large projects. It is free and open source. It allows you to track changes in source code during software development

With Git, you can create snapshots of your project in time, allowing you to revert selected files or entire projects to a previous state, compare changes over time, see work logs with modifications made by other developers, and more.

What are the benefits of using Git?

Git allows you to collaborate with other developers on projects, and it can make you a better programmer over time.

Find the Perfect Blend of Talent, Cost & Quality

5. Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) Tool: Jenkins

Jenkins is a free and open-source automation server that lets you automate building, testing, and deploying software. By using Jenkins, you can continuously build and test your Java code and deploy it to any environment.

Jenkins has a huge ecosystem of plugins to support building and testing virtually any project. For Java developers, key plugins include:

What are the benefits of using Jenkins?

  1. Automated builds triggered by code commits.
  2. Automated unit and integration testing.
  3. Code quality checks like linting and coverage reports.
  4. One-click deploys to development and staging environments.
  5. Continuous monitoring of your builds and deploys.

Using a CI/CD tool like Jenkins allows you to focus on developing code instead of managing builds. It makes the software development process automated, repeatable, and more robust.

6. Dependency Management: Gradle 

Gradle is one of the fundamental Java development tools for managing dependencies and building projects. If you are looking for a tool that is more flexible and easier to configure than Maven, this might be the solution for you.

To get started, you need to install the Gradle build tool and have a build.gradle file in your project. In the build.gradle file, you can specify the dependencies your project needs, the Java version to compile with, plugins to use, and more. Then, running the Gradle build will download all your dependencies and compile your Java code.

With the many open-source Java libraries available, Gradle helps you manage all your dependencies in one place. The Gradle Wrapper also allows you to get started with Gradle quickly without having to install anything.

Ultimately, Gradle simplifies and streamlines the build process for Java developers.

7. Performance Monitoring: JProfiler

To optimize your Java application’s performance, you’ll need a profiler tool. JProfiler is a lightweight, Java-based tool that gives you insight into CPU, memory, threads, database connections, and more.

With JProfiler, you can see how much memory and CPU time each method call takes, spot performance bottlenecks, and find memory leaks. The intuitive UI lets you drill down into profiles, set filters, and compare snapshots. You can also attach JProfiler to already running applications to monitor them live.

Whether you’re developing, testing, or deploying Java software, JProfiler is an indispensable tool for maximizing speed, efficiency, and scalability. By pinpointing performance issues early on, you’ll save hours of frustration later. JProfiler supports all major application servers like Tomcat, JBoss, WebSphere, and WebLogic.

A free trial is available to get you started. For larger teams and enterprise use, JProfiler also offers paid licenses with priority support and maintenance. If performance is a top priority for your Java projects in 2024, JProfiler should be at the top of your list.

8. Code Quality Checker: SonarQube

SonarQube is a popular open-source code quality checker for Java developers. It analyzes your code to detect bugs, vulnerabilities, and code smells so you can fix them before they cause real problems. 

SonarQube checks things like:

After analyzing your code, SonarQube generates a list of issues you should fix to improve quality and maintainability. It gives you an overview of your technical debt so you can create a plan to address high-priority issues. For Java developers, using a tool like SonarQube leads to higher code quality, fewer bugs, and less time spent on maintenance. It helps ensure best practices for clean, standards-compliant code.

SonarQube integrates with many Java IDEs and building tools like Maven and Gradle. It’s free to use for open-source projects and has paid plans for commercial use. SonarQube is a must-have tool to build into your Java project workflow. Keeping a close eye on code quality will allow you to build better software at a faster rate.

9. Debugging Tool: JUnit

JUnit is the most popular unit testing framework for Java. As a Java developer, having a solid understanding of JUnit will make debugging your code much easier.

Run automated tests

With JUnit, you can write and run repeatable automated tests for your code. This allows you to verify your code works as intended after any changes. JUnit tests are easy to write and integrate into your software development life cycle.

Find issues early

Running JUnit tests frequently as you build your code helps detect any issues early. This makes debugging much simpler than trying to locate the source of issues in a large codebase. Fixing bugs and problems is faster when you can isolate them from recent changes.

Refactor with confidence

Knowing you have a suite of JUnit tests to verify your code, you can confidently refactor and restructure your code. Refactoring is an important part of any software development process to keep code clean and optimized. JUnit gives you the safety net to refactor freely.

Test edge and corner cases

JUnit tests are great for properly verifying your code handles edge and corner cases. You can write tests for boundary values, null values, and any other scenarios you want to ensure your code addresses.

Improve code quality

To write testable code, you end up developing higher quality, more modular code. JUnit encourages good coding practices like loose coupling and separation of concerns.

In summary, JUnit is an invaluable part of Java development tools. It makes the debugging process efficient while improving your code quality and confidence.

10. Containerization Platform: Docker

To build and deploy your Java applications, you’ll want to use a containerization platform like Docker. Docker allows you to package your application and all its dependencies into a standardized unit for software development called a container.

Why Docker?

With Docker, you can build once and run anywhere, whether it’s on your local machine, a VM, in the cloud, or on bare metal. Docker containers run the same regardless of the environment, so you get consistency and portability.

Using Docker, you can quickly build, test, and deploy your Java applications. You can create a Dockerfile that holds all the steps to assemble your app into a container image. Then, share and run that image anywhere.

Once you get the hang of it, Docker can revolutionize the way you build, test, deploy, and run your Java apps!

Code Faster and Smarter

These tools for Java developers are not just about coding efficiency but also about enhancing collaboration and project management. In addition to the powerful IDEs, code editors, and automation tools we’ve discussed here, software development outsourcing companies play a crucial role in bringing together businesses with top-rated and cost-effective Java developers.

Find the Perfect Blend of Talent, Cost & Quality

Conclusion

With the help of these modern tools and frameworks, Java development can be efficient, collaborative, and even fun. Staying up-to-date with the latest Java development tools and technologies is key to progressing in your career. Keep learning, keep building, and keep making things that matter.

For more insights into the tech world and how to make a name for yourself in it, check out our IT blog.