An Empirical Analysis of Java Language Use in Open Source Applications
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Java is one of the most popular programming languages currently in use, and many modern applications and websites are programmed using Java. In this work, we examine how Java language features are actually used by programmers in a large set of open source Java applications. The analysis is carried out on a dataset of fifty-one open source Java applications, consisting of 64,557 files. We analyze our dataset using a parser written in the TXL source transformation language, which extracts and counts the use of both syntactic features and public Java library classes and interfaces in Java applications. Our study is designed to assist language designers in understanding how to evolve Java by concentrating on improving the most frequently used features, removing the most rarely used features, and identifying opportunities to improve Java public libraries to better serve programmers. As a side effect, our results can also help to improve language artifacts such as grammar and documentation.