Python or Java: Popular Programming Languages
16 Feb 2022 2 mins read By Andrea Amato

Two competing, object-oriented languages take centre stage in software development.


A few years ago, if you’d asked software developers and engineers alike what their favourite programming language was—they’d most likely have told you Java. Fast-forward a few years later to today, where Java’s been met with a new rival—Python. Python is, as far as searches go, grown increasingly more popular than Java, and has been that way for some time.

There can be various reasons as to why one programming language becomes favourable over another. Typically, every programming language comes with its own benefits and disadvantages and is later found dependent on the software developer job. Python is known to be more experimental than Java, as a dynamically typed code which leaves developers room for interpretation. This can grant developers further creative liberty over using a compiled language such as Java. 

Perhaps one of the more significant notes as to why Python has gained popularity over Java is because it is easier to learn. The influx of libraries has granted Python an impressive community support, meaning new coders wouldn’t need to learn the language with bare arms. Due to its extensive, long-term use, Java too has an extensive library and community support. The choice of programming language ultimately resorts to the software developer or engineer.


Python & Java Overview


Python originated in 1991 and was constructed to serve as a general-purpose programming language. It aimed to facilitate easy code, as opposed to its counterparts of the time, that still left significant room for interpretation. Today, developers use Python mainly for machine learning purposes or data analytics.

On the other hand, Java was created a few years later than Python in 1995. Java is an object-oriented programming language and is commonly used for desktop computing, mobile applications, video games, etcetera. It has a smooth and quick runtime with easy debugging. 

The applicability of either programming language largely depends on what a software developer and similar IT job wishes to achieve. With Python’s libraries, developers needn’t create a project from scratch. On the flip side, Java can run on various machines and can therefore be easy to integrate into projects. Python is often used by:

  • New programmers or junior software developers,
  • Interested candidates for data science, and
  • Interested candidates for machine learning.

Contrarily, software developers who use Java typically:

  • Enjoy web development,
  • Enjoy asynchronous programming, and
  • Work on projects that integrate natural language processing technology.

Unlike Python, software developers who use Java are typically at intermediate to senior level. Although Java enjoys a helpful community support, new developers are seeking other languages to suit their needs nowadays. In terms of API interactions, both Python and Java can be used.


Writing Code


One aspect in determining which programming language is right for you depends on its code and syntax. Python is considered an interpreted language, meaning its syntax is more concise than Java. Hence, Python is usually popular among new developers learning to write code. On the other hand, to run a program on Java and test it, you’d need to write out the whole program for it to run effectively. 

When it comes to incorporating classes, there’s already a visible difference between Python and Java. With Python, the necessary classes are written, and a program will run. Java requires various variables to compute classes effectively. Its excessive wordiness in code is one of the main reasons prospective software developers gravitate toward Python, as it is simply easier to read. In technical terms, both languages are considered object-oriented—but Python can print dictionary objects automatically, whereas with Java you need to state a specific function to print the same dictionary.


Language Performance


Java and Python both run in virtual machines, compiling various codes to compute programmatic results. They run across platforms similarly. How they do so differ—where Python compiles code at runtime, Java does so beforehand. There are instances whereby Java runs faster than Python, depending on the use case of the language. This is often attributed to one of the more unique qualities of Java mentioned beforehand, where its creation is meant to support runtime on diverse machines seamlessly.

Generally, Python is still considered to be powerful. It’s compatibility with all operating systems such as Windows, macOS, Unix, and Linux, is an impressive feat considering it is also a free software. The programming language can also be redistributed or amended by users as a result. On the whole, being an easy-to-read and free programming language makes Python a favourite among software developer jobs.

Due to the nature of Java, this programming language can run on any Java virtual machine (JVM) and therefore does not need to be compiled into a specific platform. It runs similarly to C++ and C; so many software developers are able to train in these languages in tandem. 

In terms of language stability, Java tends to be better than Python. This is because Java reviews code before it is run, allowing developers the opportunity to amend errors before running a program. This also encourages software developers and engineers alike to practise writing stellar code that in time becomes errorless, meaning less room for vulnerabilities in the future. Python tests syntax during runtime and is therefore less stable than Java.

Additionally, due to Python’s easy-to-learn code, it does tend to encourage faster development than Java. Nevertheless, with enough practice and patience, both Java and Python can help developers fly through their projects. 


The Final Verdict


The advantage of both Python and Java is the incredible community support they have. This makes the learning experience easier, as developers can find whatever it is they need in terms of project development and ideation. If you’re a new software developer with little programming experience, it may be worth exploring Python before delving into Java. Though over time, many software developers and engineers alike tend to study various languages as these change depending on project requirements.

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