Term: Java

Java (not to be confused with Javascript) is a general-purpose programming language, designed to have as few dependencies on the underlying computer platform as possible. One of its original marketing messages was “Write once, run anywhere.”

Java is both a compiled and interpreted language. What that means is that the actual Java program is first transformed, or “compiled”, into an optimized platform-independent intermediate form, which is then read and and executed by a platform-specific runtime or VM (for Virtual Machine).

Java is most commonly used in one of two ways:

  • for traditional desktop applications
  • for web-based or web-hosted applications.

In the later case, a web page hosting a Java-based application will first require that the Java runtime be installed and add-ons integrated into the web browser. For desktop applications, the Java runtime is typically installed as part of the application installation process.

Java has come under fire in recent years, as programming errors or bugs in the runtime have been discovered and subsequently exploited by malware. Common advice is to uninstall Java, as it is not required by many programs. However, it is easily installed and left on a computer by even once visiting a website that happens to use it.

« Back to Glossary Index