Python vs. Java in 2020: Side-by-side comparison

Python vs. Java: Which one is the best programming language?

Just recently, the August 2020 Tiobe index – a trusted resource for measuring the popularity of programming languages – listed Java as the second most popular language, and put Python at third.

If you’re finally ready to start developing your app, the first thing you need to do is decide what programming language to use.

Choosing the right language depends on your business as well as the product(s) you intend to create.

It’s hard to decide which programming language will fit your business objectives best when you don’t know the strengths and weaknesses of the technologies surrounding it.

At this moment you might be doing an evaluation of Python vs. Java and struggling to find some in-depth comparisons.

Luckily at a time like this, Trio is here for you. You’ll find your answers below!

What Is Python?

Python is a high-level, general-purpose interpreted programming language.

Developed by Guido van Rossum, it puts a particular emphasis on code reliability. The language’s syntactic use of significant whitespace is a noteworthy feature.

To review, high-level languages are in immediate contrast with low-level languages. Low-level languages don’t go far beyond the 0s and 1s of machine code, which bears the most resemblance to how computers talk.

Although low-level languages are slightly more readable than a couple of numbers, it can be just as confusing to look at. This is why high-level languages are much preferred.

High-level languages abstract machine code to syntax that can be understood relatively easily by human eyes.

As an interpreted language, Python is translated line by line at runtime. Because of this, developers can sometimes debug code in real-time, simplifying the debugging process.

General-purpose simply means that Python can be used for a diverse range of software purposes such as mobile or web development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most distinctive trait of Python is its use of whitespace. Typically, languages require some textual indicator that a block of code is finished. Often, those characters are brackets or semicolons. Instead, Python uses whitespace itself as a material marker for the end of a code block.

Python also happens to be object-oriented. This means developers can store data and metadata using the concept of objects as intuitive placeholders for real-life constructs.

Objects are defined inside of classes, making Python class-based. You can think of classes as templates for objects.

These features account for the gist of the Python programming language. Of course, there are some particular advantages as well.

What Are the Advantages of Python?

Python first appeared in 1990 and still it tops charts. Even now when search engines are filled to the brim with Java vs. Python inquiries, there must be a reason why developers finally chose to use Python over other languages.

  • Third-Party Modules

Python has a repository of software called the Python Package Index (PyPI). It contains numerous third-party modules to help developers interact with most other languages and platforms.

  • Support Libraries

On a related note, Python carries its own standard library that truly justifies its general-purpose categorization.

There are tools you can use for game development, web development, and even machine learning.

  • Open-Source

Languages that have open-source licensing more often than not have the advantage of continuous improvement.

Developers who use Python and are committed to its advancement will have the opportunity to modify the language towards that end goal.

  • Community

In the same vein, having a large community behind Python’s development doesn’t hurt.

The bigger the community, the more developers will be invested in Python's prolonged success.

  • Data Structures

Data structures are a means of organizing data within code. For example, a list or array in a program is a data structure.

While all of Python’s data structures are user-friendly, its most idiosyncratic one is the dictionary.

Dictionaries in Python can store heterogeneous values, whether they be numbers, letters, or strings of multiple characters. They can also be indexed by key values.

  • Productive

The object-oriented design of Python enhances its processing capacity leading to more speed and productivity.

This is why developers use Python to make complex network applications. Django, a high-level Python framework for web app development, is a good example of this.

When Is the Use of Python Recommended?

There are several instances where the use of Python would be recommended.

The first would be for applications that rely heavily on a graphical user interface (GUI). Python has many GUI frameworks, the Tkinter module being a fan favorite.

Turtle, a module in tkinter, is often introduced to beginner programmers as a standalone implementation. Novice developers are able to code instructions to a moveable drawing stick i. e. the turtle, and draw images.

The most common uses of Python GUI programming are for building games, computational applications like graphs and calculators, and image processing.

Developers also utilize Python for language development, prototypes, operating systems, business application, and web frameworks or applications.

Which Companies Use Python?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that some major companies are using Python as their premier programming language. Let’s see why.

  • Google

Probably not one of the companies listed here is unfamiliar. But Google should be by far the most familiar.

Google is one of the largest companies in the world. Primarily known for its search engine, it also plays a foundational role in services such as the Android operating system, Youtube, and Stadia.

Python is a core language for Google. Its simplistic syntax and easy maintenance allows for rapid deployments – an important attribute for the most hyped up Google projects.

The language is also a functional asset for machine learning and artificial intelligence. These facets are integral to Google’s search algorithms.

  • Facebook

Facebook is a social networking site, and the most triumphant of them all. Despite being developed in 2004, Facebook has over 2.6 billion users, and it’s not slowing down.

Python’s package support is a big factor in Facebook’s ongoing development. The engineering team behind Facebook also contributes to Python’s open-source community with its own features and bug fixes.

Related read: 15 companies that use Node.Js

  • Instagram

Instagram is another social media platform but it operates primarily through a mobile app and digital photography is the main form of content.

Django, previously mentioned as a framework for building web apps, can credit Instagram for having the largest implementation of the framework.

Through Django, Instagram can present itself as a mobile application, though it’s coded natively as a web app.

What Is Java?

Java and Python share many characteristics. This is why the Python vs. Java holy war probably won’t end anytime soon.

The upside is that you won’t have to sit through another long-winded explanation to understand why Java is a valuable language to use.

In short, Java is a general-purpose class-based, object-oriented programming language. You should have the terms object-oriented and general-purpose down pat and saved in your mental dictionary.

Another trait of Java is that it is a compiled language, at least somewhat. Typically, compiled languages stand in opposition to interpreted languages.

Compiled languages are directly translated to machine code at compilation in turn for interpreted languages that wait until runtime.

Since machines are getting a full translation, compiled languages tend to execute faster and be more efficient.

In Java specifically, compilation works differently, and there are two programs that the environment depends on.

The first is the Java Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler. And the second is the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

The JIT compiler compiles the source code into a low-level version called byte code.

On the other hand, the JVM acts as a middle-man, blurring the definitions when it comes to interpreted and compiled languages.

Portability describes the useability of the same software in multiple environments. One way to characterize this feature is by the motto, “Write once, run everywhere.”The slogan is meant to be a descriptor of Java’s cross-platform capabilities.

The language was designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible, meaning that to run on different platform developers won't have the same dependencies that a language like Python might need.

What Are the Advantages of Java?

Java has some key conveniences; and if you’re truly dedicated to the Python vs. Java debate, it’s only fair to give both sides due process.

After all, judging by the numbers you saw, Java is more popular than Python.

With that said, look no further for the following Java advantages.

  • Cross-Functional

If you’ve neglected to take away anything from this reading material, then heed now that Java is a highly portable language.

There are many ways to describe its portability from the adjective cross-platform to a quick summary of its implementation dependencies to a four-worded slogan. But you get the idea.

  • Multithreading Support

Multithreading in programming refers to when two or more parts of a program run concurrently to optimize central processing unit (CPU) usage.

Java can effectively be used to program large systems, making such a feature nearly imperative.

  • Community

Alike to Python, Java has a large community which can be attributed to its popularity. However, Java is also popular amongst large-scale enterprises.

Though Python is showing its head in some of the same cliques, Java has a substantial base for business-oriented developers, resulting in a niche market in addition to the larger community.

  • Development Tools

Java has some really nice development tools, Eclipse SDK and Netbeans, to name a few. Both have debugging capabilities and work as integrated development environments (IDEs).

Eclipse especially may be the most used platform for Java developers. The IDE supports auto-completion, and more importantly, development at an industrial level.

When Is the Use of Java Recommended?

Being general-purpose, Java has the capacity to run all sorts of applications.

A number of these match up with Python, including scientific applications, GUI applications, web applications, and business applications.

But one outstanding tidbit about Java is that it is refreshingly middle-level – though there is some dissent on that given developers are unsure of how middle-level should even be defined.

Here’s a pretty straightforward explanation: Middle-level languages combine elements of both low-level and high-level language.

Essentially, middle-level languages can offer a low-level access to memory while still providing a high-level abstraction through their readable syntax.

To put it one way, Java is a viable language to use for systems programming, a type of programming allotted to building large and/or embedded systems.

Such systems have software that interacts directly with the hardware.

This interaction requires a reasonable amount of complexity, and middle-level languages take the bait.

Because Java is a middle-level language, you can build complex systems like web servers, application servers, and other middleware products using Java.

Which Companies Use Java?

Naturally, Java’s popularity would attract some spectators.

It is the responsibility of professional developers to watch out for trends and always look for ways to optimize their programming.

Some major companies have done just that and are faithful Java developers.

  • Android

Android is a mobile operating system currently powering 2.5 billion devices. Take note that an operating system is not to be confused with a phone manufacturer. This seems to be a common misinterpretation.

For instance, an Android phone can be a Samsung. It can also be an LG or HTC.

At any rate, Android and iOS are the two highest-performing mobile operating systems, the Windows phone having been disbanded in 2017 for failing to keep up with Android and iOS.

While it’s not appropriate to discuss whether Android or iOS is better right at this minute, it is worth knowing why Android developers must use Java to develop for the Google Play Store.

Java is a sensible choice for Android because of its mass popularity and community, as well as its high portability.

As the motto, “Write once, run everywhere,” rings true, many Java developers can easily transition to mobile development in Android.

Popularity and community only increase this reality, extending a full-circle effect. Many willing developers come running to Android’s doors, increasing the popularity of the operating system itself.

  • Uber

Uber is a ride-hailing company that’s deployed as a mobile app.

All you need is some basic contact information to make an account and then you’ll no longer have to remember any complicated hand gestures to catch a cab.

This taxi alternative chose Java for its performance rankings.

Uber developers also take advantage of the open-source ecosystem as it permits integration with external technologies for database management and analysis.

  • Netflix

Netflix is the most well-known streaming service for watching films and series at a low monthly cost.

The website is a useful illustration of a single-page application. Single-page applications do not need to be reloaded in spite of their dynamic content.

Rather than just Java itself, Netflix uses Spring Boot, a Java-based framework used for developing microservices. Microservices is an architectural programming style whereas a singular application can be structured as a collection of services.

Developers favor microservice applications because they are easy to maintain and test.

Andy Glover, Director of Engineering at Netflix, also likes Java because the language is accompanied by a high access to developers who can quickly catch up to speed and start developing.

Python vs. Java: Side-By-Side Comparison

Both Java and Python have some unique advantages.

Thus, in order to get to the bottom of this Python vs. Java debate, you’ll have to cross-examine their differences closely and look at the languages side-by-side to figure out what’s what.

Performance

Java is faster than Python. This is for a number of reasons.

Python has a slower runtime because it is interpreted. Considering this, it takes more work to get Python source code to the nitty-gritty bits that computers can actually read. Java, with the aide of its JIT compiler, has a natural advantage over Python in this regard.

What’s more, although interpreted languages can provide an environment to debug-as-you-go, so to speak, certain runtime errors that have to do with type checking and conversion will be left completely vulnerable.

Parsing through such errors will indubitably take time – time that Java developers can use more efficiently.

TL;DR: Java wins.

Related read: Vue.js vs. Angular - Side by Side Comparison

Learning Difficulty

Python is easier to learn. The coding style is instinctive. In fact, Python is known as the go-to coding language to teach beginner programmers.

Perhaps this is because Java is middle-level. In some ways, this means that complexity is built-in.

The utility of significant whitespace definitely contributes to Python's ease of use as well. Ultimately, if you want something easy, go with Python.

TL;DR: Python wins.

Dynamic vs. Static

This subject makes for another Python vs. Java crossroads. Whether to use dynamically typed languages or statically typed language is a matter of preference.

Python is dynamic; Java is static.

Dynamic languages only perform type checking at runtime as compared to static languages where type checking is done at compilation.

Type checking is the process of ensuring that all references types match up to their expected values.

This way the computer won’t get confused if, for example, an integer variable was given an alphabetic value.

Of course, misunderstandings – or bugs – do happen, and they’re all the more likely to happen with dynamic languages.

On the other hand, dynamic languages tend to be less verbose and are easier to debug in most cases. But is simplicity a good excuse for being vulnerable to errors?

TL;DR: Stalemate.

Code Readability

The Python philosophy has code readability at its core.

The language enables your developers’ code to be clean, readable, and concise.

Quite a few developers choose Python over other languages to avoid writing extra code and keep their programs maintainable.

Java is working toward the same goals. Java 9 implemented modules in an attempt to accelerate software development and provide additional structure. But it’s not there yet.

TL;DR: Python wins.

Popularity

The Tiobe Index clearly shows that Java is more popular than Python.

And yet, things are not as they seem. This measure of popularity relies on search queries conducted in Google, Google Blogs, MSN, Yahoo! Baidu, Wikipedia, and Youtube.

For alternative methodologies, consider the Popularity of Programming Language (PYPL) index.

Their methodology is dependent on Google searches for language tutorials. To some, this could indicate a higher investment in a certain language.

According to the PYPL index, Python is in first place with a 31.59% share of the overall data. Java has roughly half of that share at 16.9%.

TL;DR: Stalemate.

Community & Collaboration

There are many paths to follow to find community in either Python or Java.

Java User Groups (JUGS) are volunteer organizations that strive to share Java knowledge throughout the world via networking events.

These groups are increasingly popular and widespread.

In addition, JavaOne, a distinguished programming event, was held each year from 1996 to 2018. It’s now been rebranded as Oracle Code One as a hub for all programming in general.

Plus, under the Oracle ownership, Java is privileged with corporate sponsorship.

For all that, this could pale in the face of the Python community. The official website maintains that Python has 1637 user groups in 191 cities and 37 countries with over 860,333 members.

Python has conferences too. PyCon is the largest annual convention in support of Python. And PyLadies encourages women to take an interest in coding through mentorship.

None of this data can stack up to Stack Overflow, where you can guess millions of anonymous community members are hidden behind screens.

In reality, it is difficult to measure the sheer size and collaboration propensity of communities with the popularity and development flexibility of Python and Java. This is another stagnate note for the Python vs. Java discourse.

TL;DR: Stalemate.

Difficulty of Hiring Developers

This is undoubtedly a salient subject area for someone looking to start a 2020 project with qualified developers. Fortunately, you’ll have no difficulty in hiring developers for Python or Java.

Whatever the Python vs. Java rivalry entails, both languages are in high demand. Ergo, you’ll have a large pool of applicants. One piece of advice is to make sure you’re hiring the right developers.

TL;DR: Stalemate.

Conclusion

You’ve cruised through every point on the Python vs. Java deliberation. Python and Java do share some similarities, mainly in that they are both object-oriented and general-purpose. These are utilitarian qualities to have for any programming language.

Where Java and Python contrast holds the source of the real contradictions. Python, for one, is dynamic and interpreted. But Java is static and compiled.

Java is faster, but Python is easier. Hopefully, at this point, you’ve found some answers. You’ve certainly done the reading.

Final reading:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cordenne Brewster

Content Marketing

About

A tech enthusiast whose ardor is best expressed through the written word.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Python is a high-level, general-purpose interpreted programming language.

1. Third-Party Modules; 2. Support Libraries; 3. Open-Source; 4. Community; 5. Data Structures; 6. Productive

Developers also utilize Python for language development, prototypes, operating systems, business application, and web frameworks or applications.