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What is the Java Development Kit (JDK)?

The Java Development Kit (JDK) is a software development environment that offers a collection of tools and libraries necessary for developing Java applications. You need the JDK to convert your source code into a format that the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) can execute.

The JDK includes the Java Runtime Environment (JRE), an interpreter (java), a compiler (javac), an archiver (jar), a documentation generator (javadoc), and some other development tools. The Java Runtime Environment itself consists of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), supporting files, and core classes.

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Typically, if you are only interested in running Java programs on your machine or browser, you only need to install JRE. However, if you would like to develop an application and do Java programming, you will need JDK.

Latest version

The latest version is JDK 14, which was released in March 2020. Here’s a list of some of its new features:

  • Switch expressions

  • Pattern matching for instanceof

  • Records

  • Helpful NullPointerExceptions

  • Text blocks

If you’re looking to learn more about Java, check out our Complete Java Crash Course.

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