Author: Karsten Silz
Jan 5, 2023   |  updated Jan 31, 2023 8 min read

Permalink: https://betterprojectsfaster.com/guide/java-full-stack-report-2023-01/be/

Java Full-Stack Index Q1/2023: Back-End Frameworks


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The content of this page is identical throughout Q1/2023 - January, February, and March.

Summary for Q1/2023

  • Popularity trend: Spring Boot dominates and still grows in all categories except for Google searches. Despite a long decline, Jakarta EE leads Quarkus in all categories but questions at Stack Overflow. Quarkus is now #3 in job ad mentions, Micronaut is the new #4.
  • On your current project, keep your existing back-end framework unless that framework is absolutely, really not working out for you.
  • If you need to switch back-end frameworks or are on a new project:
    • Use Quarkus if you need the smallest possible, fastest-starting Java application now.
    • Otherwise, use Spring Boot.

Archive

2022 Q4 Q3 Jun May Apr Mar Feb Jan
2021 Dec Nov

Table Of Contents

Choices

Here are the choices in alphabetical order:

Popularity

Why Popularity - and How?

Picking a popular technology makes our developer life easier: Easier to learn, easier to build, debug & deploy, easier to find jobs/hire, and easier to convince teammates & bosses. Now popularity can make a difference in two situations: When multiple technologies score similarly, we could go for the most popular one. And when a technology is very unpopular, we may not use it.

I measure popularity among employers and developers as the trend between competing technologies. I count mentions in job ads at Indeed for employer popularity. For developer popularity, I use Google searches, Udemy course buyers, and Stack Overflow questions.

Employers: Job Ads

The Indeed job search is active in 62 countries. I picked 59 countries representing 69% of the worldwide GDP in 2022, excluding three countries because English word searches proved ineffective there: China, Japan, and South Korea. Job searches demonstrate the willingness of organizations to pay for a technology - the strongest indicator of popularity in my mind. Jakarta EE is the baseline. Please note that the chart is not proportional so that all languages fit nicely.

Job ad mentions at Indeed for Dropwizard, Helidon, Jakarta EE, Micronaut, MicroProfile, Spring Boot, and Quarkus
Job ad mentions at Indeed for Dropwizard, Helidon, Jakarta EE, Micronaut, MicroProfile, Spring Boot, and Quarkus


This is the first time I exclude China, Japan, and South Korea from the ranking because English word searches proved ineffective there. I adjusted all past numbers as well for this issue, so they are different from past issues. And because of technical difficulties on my end, I don’t have the numbers for October 2022.

For comparison, here’s the last chart version with China, Japan, and South Korea from Q4/2022. These are the differences:

  • Spring Boot is 19% lower in September β€” 550% now vs. 679% before.
  • Micronaut is 20% higher in September β€” 18% now vs. 15% before.

Spring Boot wins, Jakarta EE is second, Quarkus third, and Micronaut fourth. After some downs and ups, Spring Boot is back to a 5:1 lead over Jakarta EE, slightly below where it started in October 2021 and 10% down in absolute numbers. Jakarta EE held steady with a 4% loss. Dropwizard went on a rollercoaster ride from #3 to #5, seemingly stabilizing at 6% of Jakarta EE’s share, less than half of what it got last October. Quarkus and Micronaut are the clear winners, more than doubling both their absolute numbers and their relative shares.Quarkus is now #3, Micronaut #4. Helidon and MicroProfile are both insignificant in the job market.

Please see here for details, caveats, and adjustments to the job ad mentions.

You can find the detailed search results with links here. They include breakdowns by continents:

Developers

Courses Bought at Udemy

Udemy is one of the biggest online learning sites. They publish the number of people who bought a course (beyond a certain threshold, possibly around 100k). This shows how many people evaluate a technology. Jakarta EE is the baseline. The other frameworks haven’t crossed the reporting threshold for Udemy (probably around 100,000 students).

Students at Udemy for Jakarta EE, Spring, and Spring Boot
Students at Udemy for Jakarta EE, Spring, and Spring Boot

Spring Boot wins over Jakarta EE and is increasing its lead. The Spring Framework also grows strongly.

Here are the links that show the courses for all and the number of students for some:

Google Searches

Google Trends demonstrates the initial interest in a technology over time. Here are all frameworks, but Helidon - Google Trends only allows five at the same time:

All-Time Google Trends for Dropwizard, Jakarta EE, Micronaut, Spring Boot, and Quarkus
All-Time Google Trends for Dropwizard, Jakarta EE, Micronaut, Spring Boot, and Quarkus

Google changed its measurement algorithms on January 1, 2016, and January 1, 2022. That caused spikes for all values, especially in 2022.

This link produces the chart above. This version switches in Helidon for Micronaut, and this one MicroProfile - which isn’t making a difference in the chart.

Spring Boot wins, and Jakarta EE is second. Jakarta EE’s decline in popularity to 2% of its June 2004 popularity is just stunning. Spring Boot is slightly down from its all-time high in November this year. Quarkus is at an all-time high with a score of two, tying Jakarta EE.

We can’t pick a third place in the chart, so let’s zoom in on the five challengers over the last three years:

Google Trends for Dropwizard, Helidon, Micronaut, MicroProfile, and Quarkus for the Last Three Years
Google Trends for Dropwizard, Helidon, Micronaut, MicroProfile, and Quarkus for the Last Three Years

This is the link for the chart.

Quarkus leads the new frameworks. Quarkus tripled over the last three years, while Helidon and Micronaut grew slightly. MicroProfile and DropWizard stayed flat.

How does Jakarta EE fare against Quarkus over the last three years?

Google Trends for Dropwizard, Helidon, Jakarta EE, Micronaut, and Quarkus for the Last Three Years
Google Trends for Dropwizard, Helidon, Jakarta EE, Micronaut, and Quarkus for the Last Three Years

Here’s the link for this chart.

Jakarta EE beats Quarkus barely. Quarkus is neck-to-neck with Jakarta EE and may overtake it in the next few months.

Questions at Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow Trends shows which percentage of questions at Stack Overflow has a particular technology tag. It is a proxy for using a technology during evaluation and productive use. “More questions = better” to me.

Questions at Stack Overflow for Jakarta EE, Spring Framework, Spring Boot, and Quarkus
Questions at Stack Overflow for Jakarta EE, Spring Framework, Spring Boot, and Quarkus

This link produces the chart above.

Spring Boot wins by an order of magnitude, while Quarkus places second and Jakarta EE third. After reaching a new all-time high a couple of months ago, Spring Boot is down 6%. After rising slowly for three years, Quarkus stagnated last year and is down 20% to levels it already reached in early 2021. Jakarta EE has hovered barely above zero for the last 3 years. DropWizard, Helidon, Micronaut, and MicroProfile don’t have a tag in Stack Overflow Trends.

Analysis

  • Spring Boot dominates the Java ecosystem. So has the broadest support of libraries and third-party software working out of the box, conveniently configured the same way as Spring Boot. With Spring Boot 3, it now has built-in support to create native Java executables with the GraalVM Native Image AOT compiler. You know, just like Quarkus, Micronaut, and Helidon have done for years. But with a multi-year head-start, these Spring Boot competitors probably produces smaller and faster native Java executables. Now, does that matter to you?
  • Jakarta EE is a vendor-independent specification with multiple implementations. It has had a rough couple of years: First, Oracle neglected it when it was still called “Java EE”. Oracle grudgingly transferred it to the Eclipse Foundation but required renaming all packages from javax.* to jakarta.*. After Java EE 8 in August 2017, we had to wait five years for new features in Jakarta EE 10. But the more significant issue is that Jakarta EE was designed for application servers like IBM WebSphere that host many applications on big and expensive servers. We’re rapidly moving into a world where our Java applications run as close to the metal as possible, all by themselves as microservices in small containers or even serverless. This world has no place for application servers anymore. Will it have one for Jakarta EE? Only time will tell.
  • MicroProfile is “Spring Boot with more Jakarta EE parts”, but without its broad support of libraries and third-party software. It started out of frustration with the slow progress of Java EE in 2016. Just like Jakarta EE, it is a vendor-independent specification with multiple implementations. It’s probably the least popular framework here, based on my measurements.
  • Dropwizard is a framework that I had never heard of until the “JRebel 2021 Java Technology Report” declared it the #2 Java framework. Its origins seem to go back to 2012. It has the most job ad mentions besides Spring Boot and Jakarta EE.
  • Quarkus is Red Hat’s take on a cloud-native Java framework. “Cloud-native” means producing small and fast applications: Quarkus claims 12 MB RAM for a REST application that starts up in 0.016 seconds. It has the most mind-share as the cloud-native Spring Boot competitor. It’s the most popular framework besides Spring Boot and Jakarta EE, except for Job ads where it trails Dropwizard.
  • Micronaut is the second cloud-native Spring Boot competitor. It’s backed by consulting company Object Computing, which sponsors Grails and is less popular than Quarkus.
  • Helidon is the third and least popular cloud-native Spring Boot competitor. It’s an Oracle framework.

So here’s my recommendation:

  • On your current project, keep your existing back-end framework unless that framework is absolutely, really not working out for you.
  • If you need to switch back-end frameworks or are on a new project:
    • Use Quarkus if you need the smallest possible, fastest-starting Java application now.
    • Otherwise, use Spring Boot 3.

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