Oracle releases Java 16 with 17 new enhancements

The latest update finalises the Pattern Matching for instanceof and Records enhancements.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

Oracle has announced general availability of Java Development Kit (JDK) 16, its reference implementation of the Java 16 programming language spec.

Rolling out in line with Oracle's six-monthly release schedule that began with Java 10 in 2018, JDK 16 includes 17 enhancements that Oracle has touted would continue to further developer productivity. 

Among the enhancements in the latest JDK is a new packaging tool to ship self-contained Java applications; upgraded memory management to improve performance; additional incubating and preview features; enhancements aimed at addressing future-incompatible code; new ports for JDK to Alpine Linux and other Linux distributions; and improved networking to enhance developer productivity and flexibility through adding support for all features of UNIX-domain sockets that are common across major UNIX platforms and Windows.

Java 16 also finalises Pattern Matching for instanceof and Records, language enhancements that were first previewed in Java 14.

With the latest JDK, Oracle continued its shift to providing more frequent but smaller releases with its six-month release cycle, with JDK 16 providing 17 new JDK Enhancement Proposals (JEPs). Since Java 10, Oracle has provided 16 JEPs in Java 14, five in Java 13, eight JEPs in Java 12, and 17 in Java 11.

By comparison, Java 9 included over 90 JEPs. 

"The power of the six-month release cadence was on full display with the latest release," Oracle vice president of Java Platform Group Georges Saab said.

"Pattern Matching and Records were introduced a year ago as part of JDK 14 and have since gone through multiple rounds of community feedback based on real-world applications. This process has not only given Java developers the opportunity to experiment with these features before they were finalised, but also incorporated that critical feedback which has resulted in two rock-solid JEPs that truly meet the needs of the community."

Last month, software-checking business Tiobe ranked Python as the top programming language of 2020 because it gained more popularity in its index than another language over the year. Despite Python's star status, Tiobe's top 5 January 2021 rankings placed C at the top, followed by Java, then Python, C++ and C#.

With Java being in second position in January, Python overtook Java in Tiobe's November rankings. It was the first time in the 20 years since Tiobe has tracked language popularity that Java and C weren't the top two languages. Tiobe found that Java fell by almost 5% over the past year.

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