Installing multiple language versions (e.g. Java 11, Java 19, Java 8 | Node 8, Node 16 | Python 2, Python 3 | etc) on your machine is scary, and not for the faint of heart. Conquer your fears with the benefit of a developer parachute, by using a Language Version Manager!
As software engineering consultants at DevObsessed, we get asked to help with a various assortment of projects – from legacy codebases running in maybe Java 8 or NodeJS 6, to greenfield creations using the newest versions of Java 19 or NodeJS 16. This isn’t only an issue between companies though, as most organizations have various versions of languages running at any given time too. Managing local installations of Java, Node, Python, Ruby, Elixir, etc can be daunting. In the past, trying out the latest version to check for bugs could lead to a developer’s machine being down for hours at a time. And if a rollback to a previous version was needed that could take even longer! Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a parachute with you on your mission, so that if anything goes wrong you can easily save yourself and proceed with confidence? Language Version Managers are your answer. Many version managers exist, and in this post we’ll show you how Sdkman for Java, and NVM for Node can provide you the courage to easily utilize multiple language versions without any worry in the process.
To set the scene, you should know that originally this blogpost was going to be about the recent release of Java 19. It would be a story about the newest and latest Java features, maybe how to use them, and probably why they would make it great for you to upgrade.
Without thinking about it, using Sdkman with a quick sdk install java 19-open and my MacbookPro was running the newest Java within seconds. It was so easy to upgrade to the cutting edge version, that it was summed up easily in a single tweet:
Not until this moment did I dive in to see that Java 19 was more of an incremental release. Some bugfixes for sure, but mostly it includes just some Preview and Incubator features (hiding behind feature flags) that won’t be fully live until Java 20 or beyond.
So after a few moments of trying out Gradle and IntelliJ support, I quickly reverted back to my previous Java version with sdk default java 126.96.36.199-open. No fuss and no worry. Then it dawned on me how before Sdkman this would have taken me probably many minutes if not hours of work to flip back and forth of Java installation versions.
Sdkman is the best Language Version manager for Java and all JVM languages, to include Groovy, Kotlin, and more. Don’t use brew or Oracle or some other installer on your macbook. Instead, install Sdkman and use a few commands to manage the version that you use.
There are other various version managers for other languages. Ruby has rbenv or RVM, Python has pyenv, Elixir has kiex, and many more. No matter what language you are on, the key is to find a language installation manager to handle the various versions that you may need to use.
In the Java and Node worlds, Sdkman and Nvm are the parachutes you need for confidence, courage, and to save you from configuration management worry!
And if you’re looking for the best software engineers to add to your team, developers who average over 10 years of experience, and come with even more tips and tricks that we’ve learned to improve developer experience over those years, reach out to us here at DevObsessed! We’re obsessed about developer efficiency, and we’ll help you achieve your own digital destination!
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