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Java JDK 21: New Features of Java 21

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Hey, Java enthusiasts and learners! Java is the most trending language in the world, which attracts the population or you can say Java techies towards its simplicity and its super features with vast functionalities. So to make the development more interesting for Java developers, Java is again here with its evolving new features and functionalities. Imagine if we never updated our gadgets, we’d still have big old phones, heavy computers with fewer functions, as well as slow web connections.

Java JDK 21

So, just like we updated our devices, Java also needs to be updated for a better experience by adding more and more features making it more vast. Java is known for its platform independence, portability, and its robustness, here Java once again rolled out a new version of JDK 21. Now, if you’re imagining the complicated terms and complex explanations, worry not! In this article, we’re going to explore Java 21 in the simplest way possible, you will get a clarification in an easier way for both beginners and seasoned coders to understand well.

What is JDK?

The JDK stands for ‘Java Development Kit’, which is like a toolkit or a package full of tools for people who want to create Java applications. JDK provides tools, utilities, and libraries to develop, compile, debug whenever it’s needed and run the Java applications and applets. For example: A developer starts with writing a Java source code, then the developer executes the code whereas the JDK compiles code into the bytecode, and then finally executes it on the JVM (Java Virtual Machine). Basically, at the core of JDK is the Java compiler that is ‘javac’ as when you write a program it’s human-readable known as source code, the ‘javac’ compiler translates the source code into the bytecode, and the ‘.class’ file is created, then it runs on JVM which interpret of compiles your translated bytecode at runtime.

Beyond the compiler and JVM, the JDK comes with a variety of tools to aid in the Java development process. This includes the debugger ‘jdb’ to fix the errors, and the ‘.jar’ is created, it’s the executable file of Java that bundles the different Java files together into one package for easy sharing and use. Just like you zip multiple documents into one folder, jar does that for Java files. JDK holds the entire environment for developing robots and portable Java applications. So, let’s jump in and discover what JDK 21 holds the new features in.

Top New Features of Java 21

Java has made coding much easier for Java techies. If you’re excited about learning the latest in Java, this is a great time to jump in. Whether you’ve been using Java for a while or are just starting out, let’s explore what Java 21 is what it has to offer and see how it can make coding even more awesome and enjoyable for you.

1. Language Feature

  • The Language feature holds the record patterns like enhanced the pattern matching for the switch expressions and the statements.
  • In this new version, it will allow you to break down or ‘deconstruct’ the complex data that is called record.
  • It is updated with the ‘pattern matching’ in switch cases, now the developer will be able to match the patterns directly instead of checking the conditions.
  • JDK 21 has a new ‘String Template’ features that Java has introduced a new way of using the string in other words, in Java 21 it will allow you to mix the expression and code together,
  • For example: As of now, developer used to write in the following way –
 // Before Java 21
“Hello” + name + “, welcome to the GeeksForGeeks!”
  • But now with this update you might be able to write this in an easier way, something like
// After Java 21
‘Hello {your actual variable value} welcome to the GeeksForGeeks!’
  • In the unnamed patterns and variables, sometimes in coding you don’t need to give the name or type of the particular data. Now, Java lets you use the underscore ‘_’ to ignore that once you don’t need it.

2. Libraries Improvements

  • Virtual threads: JDK 21 has introduced virtual threads to the Java platform, where as they can do tasks quickly without allocating much resources and space in the memory.
  • Sequenced collections: Java 21 has introduced new ways to work with collections, which is an interface to represent collections in a set of order, where the developer will always get to know which item is first, second, third, and so on.
  • The developer can quickly see the first and last items.
  • The developer can go through the items which are backward, if needed.
  • Key encapsulation mechanisms (KEMs): JDK 21 has introduced an API for key encapsulation mechanisms (KEM), this tool will help in storing secret keys safely.
  • Vector API: Java 21 offers an API and vector tools which will help you to get fastest performance in such tasks like graphics rendering, or scientific calculations.

3. Performance Improvements

  • Java has the feature of Z Garbage Collection (ZBC) which performs all the expensive works concurrently, without stopping the execution of application threads.
  • Now with the improvement of this cleaning tool called ‘ZBC’, it cleans up the unused memory.
  • It sorts stuff in the memory into ‘new’ and ‘old’ notes.
  • For example: Every program you run on your computer uses something called ‘memory’ to store and manage information. As the program runs, it creates objects like notes in this memory. Over time, many of these notes aren’t needed anymore during the development, and if they’re not removed, they’ll clog up or block the memory, like unused papers filling up a desk, and making everything slower. So ZGC separates them into ‘new’ and ‘old’ notes. Where it works as in the following manner- newer notes are often not needed after a short time, while older ones might still be important. So, by targeting and cleaning up the new notes more frequently, it ensures that the memory desk remains less complex and more efficient.

4. Tools Improvements

  • Java 21 has enhanced its tools such as ‘Runtime.exec’ and ‘ProcessBuilder’ which are used to start new processes like running a new program.
  • Java program that frequently starts new processes using ‘Runtime.exec’ or ‘ProcessBuilder’, this feature helps you track or log these activities.
  • You would generally have a logger setup for your application, with this new feature, you’d specifically want to monitor the logger named ‘java.lang.ProcessBuilder’ as shown below.

Java

System.Logger logger = System.getLogger("java.lang.ProcessBuilder");

                    

Let’s say you want to run a simple ping command for testing using the ‘ProcessBuilder’.

Java

ProcessBuilder processBuilder = new ProcessBuilder();
processBuilder.command("ping", "www.google.com");

                    

Once you run the process, the specified details would automatically be logged based on the logger’s level. If the logger level is set to DEBUG or TRACE, the details will be recorded accordingly.

  • Suppose, you had set the logger level to TRACE:

Java

logger.log(System.Logger.Level.TRACE, "Starting process...");
Process process = processBuilder.start();

                    

5. Java Emoji Support Tools

  • Java has introduced the method in the ‘java.lang.Character’ class to work with different types of emoji’s properties, it’s defined by the Unicode Standard (unicode emoji technical standard) UTS#51.
  • Let’s take an example, checking whether the given code points to a unique number representing a character as an emoji.

Java

boolean isEmojiChar = Character.isEmoji('????');

                    

(This would return true, indicating that ‘????’ is an emoji.)

  • Let’s take another example, determining that the given code point can have an emoji modifier applied to it like, the hand emoji can have different skin tones applied.

Java

boolean canHaveModifier = Character.isEmojiModifierBase('✋');

                    

( Determines if the given code point can have an emoji modifier applied to it. For instance, the hand emoji can have different skin tones applied.)

6. Enhanced Lifecycle Management with HttpClient

  • The ‘HttpClient’ being ‘AutoCloseable’ means you can now use it within a try-with-resources block in Java, which automatically handles the closing of resources once they are no longer needed.
  • JDK 21 has added such methods in the new version like: close() method which waits for any ongoing requests to finish before closing, once the task has finish it easily closes the HttpClient.

Java

HttpClient client = HttpClient.newHttpClient();
// ... use the client for various tasks
client.close();

                    
  • The other method is`shutdown()` that starts closing the HttpClient quickly without waiting for all tasks to end.”

Java

HttpClient client = HttpClient.newHttpClient();
// ... maybe after some operations
client.shutdown();

                    
  • The method shutdownNow() tries to shut down the HttpClient immediately, even if operations are ongoing.

Java

HttpClient client = HttpClient.newHttpClient();
// For instant shutdown, without waiting:
client.shutdownNow();

                    
  • The awaitTerminationDuration waits for the client to shut down within a specific time duration.

Java

HttpClient client = HttpClient.newHttpClient();
client.shutdown();
if (client.awaitTermination(Duration.ofMinutes(1))) {
    System.out.println("Client terminated successfully.");
} else {
    System.out.println("Client termination took longer than expected.");
}

                    
  • isTerminated() is the method which checks if the HttpClient has fully shut down.

Java

HttpClient client = HttpClient.newHttpClient();
client.shutdown();
// ... after some time
if (client.isTerminated()) {
    System.out.println("Client has terminated.");
}

                    

7. Enhanced Repeated Appending in StringBuilder and StringBuffer

  • JDK 21 has added methods to ‘java.lang.StringBuilder’ and ‘java.lang.StringBuffer’.
  • The int codePoint method adds the same character multiple times to StringBuilder or StringBuffer using its Unicode number.

Java

StringBuilder sb1 = new StringBuilder();
sb1.repeat(42, 10);  // Appends "**********" to sb1

                    
  • The CharSequence method lets you add a word or phrase multiple times to StringBuilder or StringBuffer.

Java

StringBuilder sb2 = new StringBuilder();
sb2.repeat("-=", 20);  // Appends "-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=" to sb2

                    
  • Instead of using loops to append the repeated characters or sequences, these methods are much better and offer an easier and more concise way to achieve the same.
  • This will lead your code to more cleaner and maintainable code.
  • The ‘repeat’ methods to ‘StringBuilder’ and ‘StringBuffer’ makes the task of appending repeated characters or sequences more streamlined and efficient, which will also eliminate the need for manual loops and improve the code readability.

8. Advancing Java collections with Sequenced Interface

  • The JDK 21 version brings new interfaces to the Java collections framework which is enhancing the collection framework and providing the clear sequence order.
  • It allows a collection where you can easily add or remove items from both the beginning and the end.
  • Consider a queue where you might want to inspect or pull from either the front or the back. With enhanced methods, you can easily get or remove elements from both ends.

Java

Deque<String> deque = new ArrayDeque<>();
deque.addFirst("JDK 17");
deque.addLast("JDK 21");
String front = deque.getFirst();  // "JDK 17"
String back = deque.getLast();    // "JDK 21"

                    
  • It lets you look at and go through lists from the end to the start, just imagine you have a list of events in chronological order but want to display them from the most recent to the oldest.

Java

List<String> events = Arrays.asList("Event1", "Event2", "Event3");
ListIterator<String> reverseIterator = events.listIterator(events.size());
while (reverseIterator.hasPrevious()) {
    System.out.println(reverseIterator.previous());
}

                    

However, these changes come with compatibility concerns that developers should be aware of when integrating the new features. As of the JDK 21 has refined the collections framework by making sequenced collections more intuitive and powerful.

Why is There a Need For New Features?

  1. To add new features in Java is, as the software changes, developers face new problems. Here the Java community is adding new features based on feedback to make modern coding easier which will also help the developers to build more effective Java applications.
  2. It will improve the performance of Java platforms to make Java applications run faster, use less memory, or be more responsive.
  3. New features or updates are essential to patch known vulnerabilities and to improve the overall security framework of the platform.
  4. Java has a robust community and, since it’s open-source, where many developers contribute to its growth. As of adding the new features often results in many people suggesting and adding new features through something called Java Enhancement Proposals (JEPs).
  5. As the Java 21 environment has developed with such new tools, platforms, and services. So, the new features can enhance interoperability with other technologies as well.
  6. As a lot of new features are added to the JDK 21, and old ones that are no longer efficient or relevant gets deprecated. So, by adding new features ensures that developers have better alternatives to these deprecated features.
  7. New features can help in making different parts of the language work together in a more predictable and consistent way.
  8. By introducing new libraries, tools, or syntax, developers can write code more efficiently, leading to reduced development time and potential errors.

Conclusion

If you are a Java techie, then the thrust for Java will never be over. As Java developers always want to enhance their Java application with more functionalities. So, with Java’s new version, JDK 21, shows how Java keeps improving. It’s holding new things for both beginners as well as for experts, making coding enjoyable and faster. Java keeps updating to remain a favourite for Java geeks. You’re waiting for wait? Check out JDK 21 and see the cool updates Java has brought this time!



Last Updated : 31 Oct, 2023
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