Switching between multiple JDKs on a Mac

java, java 10, java 11, java 8, java 9, technology

Blog post date: 2018-May-18
Relevant versions of Java: Java 1.7, 8, 9, 10, 11

We often work with different versions of Java. There are times when we would like to test our application/program against different JDKs. Or … we just love to collect all versions of Java released just to show off.

Either of these would mean some kind of control of the JAVA_HOME and the PATH environment variables.


Many developers have successfully overcome this with innovative scripts to quickly switch Java versions. I am one such developer and below is an explanation of my setup.

Current installations of JDK on my Mac:

  • JDK 1.7.0_80
  • JDK 1.8.0_172
  • JDK 9.0.4
  • JDK 10.0.1
  • JDK 11-ea+14

How does one determine the current installations of JDK?

On your Mac terminal run the command:

/usr/libexec/java_home -verbose

Sample output:

Matching Java Virtual Machines (5):
11, x86_64: "OpenJDK 11-ea" /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk-11.jdk/Contents/Home
10.0.1, x86_64: "OpenJDK 10.0.1" /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk-10.0.1.jdk/Contents/Home
9.0.4, x86_64: "OpenJDK 9.0.4" /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk-9.0.4.jdk/Contents/Home
1.8.0_172, x86_64: "Java SE 8" /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.8.0_172.jdk/Contents/Home
1.7.0_80, x86_64: "Java SE 7" /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.7.0_80.jdk/Contents/Home

Simple ! Quite easy to determine the current JDKs available.

How can I switch Java versions easily?

Aliases. That’s it. If you know this, you can skip the remaining part of this blog. What is really cool is how a single JVM exec command can be used to switch JDK versions.

Sharing an excerpt from a .bash_profile:

alias jdk11="export JAVA_HOME=`/usr/libexec/java_home -v 11` && export PATH=$JAVA_HOME/bin:$PATH; java -version"
alias jdk10="export JAVA_HOME=`/usr/libexec/java_home -v 10` && export PATH=$JAVA_HOME/bin:$PATH; java -version"
alias jdk9="export JAVA_HOME=`/usr/libexec/java_home -v 9` && export PATH=$JAVA_HOME/bin:$PATH; java -version"
alias jdk8="export JAVA_HOME=`/usr/libexec/java_home -v 1.8` && export PATH=$JAVA_HOME/bin:$PATH; java -version"
alias jdk7="export JAVA_HOME=`/usr/libexec/java_home -v 1.7` && export PATH=$JAVA_HOME/bin:$PATH; java -version"

Note how the Java versioning from 9 onwards is a full digit? The same applies with the default directory names of the installed JDKs. This was a deliberate change toshake off the 1.x naming style of prior versions of Java.

JDK switching output

A picture would do this more justice.
Switching JDKs at Terminal

Maintenance of JDKs

Needs Admin rights on the Mac !

Keeping the JDK versions up-to-date is in everyone’s best interest, both for the new features as well as any security patches. A few steps that can help with maintaining:

  1. Extract the latest build/patch of the JDK into the directory: /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines.
    • If an installer was used, most likely the directories are created.
    • If a tarball was extracted from, make sure to move the extracted directory under the parent mentioned above.
  2. Post-installation, open a new terminal shell (current shell will not pick up the latest patch of an existing version of the JDK).
    • Add the appropriate alias, if this is a new version of Java
    • If existing version being patched, then no further action is needed.
  3. Type in the appropriate alias and verify that the build/patch is what shows.
  4. Once verified, the options for removing the prior patch present themselves:
    • delete older build/patch since it is no longer useful to reclaim space.
    • retain older build/patch, for other usage. It is possible to manually switch to this build/patch:
      • export JAVA_HOME=/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/<Selected_JDK>
      • export PATH=$JAVA_HOME/bin:$PATH

That’s a wrap on Switching JDKs on a Mac. Hope this post was helpful.

Java 8 Date Time API – A Kata

java, java 8, technology


This post is an extract of a Code Kata presentation I had hosted back in November 2015. Java 8 Date Time API was relatively new to many of the attendees.

This Kata-based style of teaching includes sharing a set of failing / non-functional JUnit tests with TODO comments indicating actions that need to be taken to resolve/pass the JUnit tests. Solving the JUnit tests repeatedly helps developers gain muscle-memory into using the feature (similar to the karate kata).

Link to the code kata is on Github, located at the bottom of the post.

Background: Why a new API

First, some background on why there was a need to create a new API.

Issues with java.util.Date


  • is mutable-only – Date instances are not immutable.
  • has concurrency problems – Date instances are not thread-safe.
  • has incorrect naming – Date is not a “date” but a “timestamp”.
  • lacks convention – Days start with 1, months with 0 and years with 1900.
  • lacks fluency – Cannot create durations (a quarter, 5 minutes) OR combos(year+month, date without seconds) etc.

Additional observations about the pre-Java 8 Date API

  • System.currentTimeInMillis() is not accurate and can return same value for multiple sequential calls.
  • java.util.Date vs. java.sql.Date – SQL flavor is only a DATE with no time.
  • java.sql.Timestamp – SQL flavor replicating java.util.Date but additionally storing nanoseconds.

Issues with java.util.Calendar


  • lacks clarity – Mix of dates and times.
  • has confusing timezone support – Not very easy to switch timezones, offsets etc.
  • has severe formatting hurdlesSimpleDateFormat and Calendar do not interoperate well.
  • presents extension hardships – New calendar systems are created by extending Calendar (therefore all it’s problems).

“Calendar is the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal for Date APIs” – Chandra Guntur (circa 2000).

What was proposed to fix this?

JSR-310: Date and Time API
Excerpts from JSR-310 (https://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=310)

  • “The main goal is to build upon the lessons learned from the first two APIs (Date and Calendar) in Java SE, providing a more advanced and comprehensive model for date and time manipulation.”
  • “The new API will be targeted at all applications needing a data model for dates and times. This model will go beyond classes to replace Date and Calendar, to include representations of date without time, time without date, durations and intervals.
  • “The new API will also tackle related date and time issues. These include formatting and parsing, taking into account the ISO8601 standard and its implementations, such as XML.”
  • “The final goal of the new API is to be simple to use. The API will need to contain some powerful features, but these must not be allowed to obscure the standard use cases. Part of being easy to use includes interaction with the existing Date and Calendar classes …”

Origins of the JSR-310

Java 8 Date Time API

The Java classes in lavender below are all linked to the JDK 8 API. Please feel free to click.

Date Time Classes

Dates and Times: Simple Date and Time ‘containers’

  • Instant stores a numeric timestamp from Java epoch, + nanoseconds.
  • LocalDate stores a date without a time portion (calendar date).
  • LocalTime stores a time without a date portion (wall clock).
  • LocalDateTime stores a date and time (LocalDate + Local Time).
  • ZonedDateTime stores a date and time with a time-zone.
  • OffsetTime stores a time and offset from UTC without a date.
  • OffsetDateTime stores a date with time and offset from UTC.

Ranges and Partials: Spans and ranges of temporality

  • Duration models time in nanoseconds for time intervals. (e.g. 5 mins)
  • Period models amount of time in years, months and/or days. (e.g. 2 Days)
  • Month stores a month on its own. (e.g. MARCH)
  • MonthDay stores a month and day without a year or time (e.g. date of birth)
  • Year stores a year on its own. (e.g. 2015)
  • YearMonth stores a year and month without a day or time. (e.g. credit card expiry)
  • DayOfWeek stores a day-of-week on its own. (e.g. WEDNESDAY)

Chronology: A calendar system to organize and identify dates

  • Chronology is a factory to create or fetch pre-built calendar systems.
    Default is IsoChronology (e.g. ThaiBuddhistChronology).
  • ChronoLocalDate stores a date without a time in an arbitrary chronology.
  • ChronoLocalDateTime stores a date and time in an arbitrary chronology.
  • ChronoZonedDateTime stores a date, time and timezone in an arbitrary chronology.
  • ChronoPeriod models a span on days/time for use in an arbitrary chronology.
  • Era stores a timeline [typically two per Chronology, but some have more eras].

Date Time Common API – Reference Table

Date and Time

Type Y M D H m S(n) Z ZId toString
Instant 1999-01-12T12:00:00.747Z
LocalDate 1999-01-12
LocalTime 12:00:00.747
LocalDateTime 1999-01-12T12:00:00.747
ZonedDateTime 1999-01-12T12:00:00.747-05:00 [America/New_York]
OffsetTime 12:00:00.747-05:00
OffsetDateTime 1999-01-12T12:00:00.747-05:00


Type Y M D H m S(n) Z ZId toString
Duration P22H
Period P15D


Type Y M D H m S(n) Z ZId toString
MonthDay -01-12
Year 1999
YearMonth 1999-01

Fluency and Symmetry in the new Date Time API

The Java 8 Date Time API introduces a certain symmetry in operations that make for a pleasant developer experience. Below is a list of prefixes for methods across the API that perform in a similar pattern where encountered.

  • of {static factory method prefix} – Factory method to obtain an instance with provided parameters – validates and builds with no conversion.example usage: LocalDate.of(...) or Instant.ofEpochSecond(...)
  • from {static factory method prefix} – Factory method to obtain an instance with provided parameters – validates, converts and builds.example usage: LocalDateTime.from(...) or OffsetTime.from(...)
  • parse {static factory method prefix} – Factory method to obtain an instance with provided CharSequence parameters, by parsing the content.example usage: LocalDate.parse(...) or OffsetDateTime.parse(...)
  • format {instance method prefix} – Formats the instance with provided formatter.example usage: localDate.format(formatter)
  • get {instance method prefix} – Return part of the state of the target temporal object.example usage: localDate.getDayOfWeek()
  • is {instance method prefix} – Queries a part of the state of the target temporal objectexample usage: localTime.isAfter(...)
  • with {instance method prefix} – Returns a copy of the immutable temporal object with a portion altered. Alternate for a set operation.example usage: offsetTime.withHour(...)
  • plus {instance method prefix} – Return a copy of the temporal object with an added time.example usage: localDate.plusWeeks(...)
  • minus {instance method prefix} – Return a copy of the temporal object with subtracted time.example usage: localTime.minusSeconds(...)
  • to {instance method prefix} – Convert the temporal object into a new temporal object of another type.example usage: localDateTime.toLocalDate(...)
  • at {instance method prefix} – Combine the temporal object into a new temporal object with supplied parameters.example usage: localDate.atTime(...)


The Code for the Kata is located at: https://github.com/c-guntur/javasig-datetime

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to:

  1. setup the kata using your favorite IDE
  2. launch each JUnit test (Exercise1Test through Exercise5Test) and fix the tests, so all execute as instructed in the TODO above any commented lines.
  3. repeat as often as necessary to build muscle memory of using the awesome Date Time API

There are solutions, but looking at solutions may limit your learning different ways of solving the same problem.

Link to solutions: https://github.com/c-guntur/javasig-datetime-solutions

I hope you found this post fun!

Happy coding!