Java vs. Python: A Comparison of Features and Use Cases
Recently, I had a discussion with a senior Java developer friend of mine, who believed that Python was not a “real” programming language. This belief is not uncommon among Java developers who may view Java as a more powerful and robust language compared to Python. I don’t have experience with Java, so I tried to understand if his statement was an “absolute” or if there are more gray areas to be explored. After this learning spree (where I understand, I just touched the surface of what is possible and all the ripple effect of using Java versus Python) I believe that each language has its own unique strengths and applications. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the key features and common use cases for Java and Python to help you decide which language is best suited for your next project.
Java Features and Use Cases:
Java is a widely-used, general-purpose programming language that is known for its performance, scalability, and security features. Some of the key features of Java include:
Object-Oriented Programming: Java is an object-oriented programming language, which means it emphasizes the use of objects, classes, and inheritance to create reusable, modular code.
Platform Independence: Java code can run on any platform with a Java Virtual Machine (JVM), which makes it highly portable and allows developers to write code once and run it on multiple platforms.
Strong Typing: Java is a statically-typed language, which means that variable types must be declared explicitly at compile time. This can help prevent errors and make code easier to maintain.
Some examples of use cases for Java include:
Enterprise Applications: Java is a popular choice for developing large-scale enterprise applications due to its performance, scalability, and security features. Companies like LinkedIn, Netflix, and Amazon use Java extensively for their back-end systems.
Android App Development: Java is the primary language used for developing Android apps, which run on over 2.5 billion active devices worldwide.
Web Development: Java is often used for building web applications using frameworks like Spring and Struts.
Python Features and Use Cases:
Python, on the other hand, is a high-level, interpreted programming language that is known for its simplicity, ease of use, and versatility. Some of the key features of Python include:
Easy to Learn: Python has a simple, easy-to-understand syntax that makes it a popular choice for beginners.
Dynamic Typing: Unlike Java, Python is dynamically typed, which means that variable types are inferred at runtime rather than being declared explicitly.
Large Standard Library: Python comes with a large standard library that includes modules for a wide range of tasks, from web development to scientific computing.
Some examples of use cases for Python include:
Data Analysis and Machine Learning: Python is widely used for data analysis and machine learning tasks due to its ease of use, large number of libraries, and powerful frameworks like TensorFlow and PyTorch.
Scientific Computing: Python is also used extensively in scientific computing for tasks like simulation, modeling, and visualization.
Web Development: Python is used for building web applications using frameworks like Django and Flask.
Who uses what?
I think it is important to understand where and how this languages are used. One implicit assumption when we say that Python is not a “real” programming language, is that it is not use industrially, to power Saas products, tech unicorns etc.
Java is used by the likes of Google, AirBnB, Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest, Uber and Spotify. These are all well known tech brands that reach the unicorn status and will be the envy of any CV creator!
Python however, is also part of the tech stack of some big names in tech. The same companies using Java are using Python as well. Google, Instagram, Facebook, Spotify, Quora, Dropbox, Netflix and Reddit they all use Python in their primary stack.
The overlap of these names and the presence of flagship brands for both languages, makes me think that, indeed, there is room for both as a de facto fully fledged programming language.
Ultmiately, even if Python may be seen as not being a “real” programming language, the reality is that each language has its own unique strengths and applications. The choice between Java and Python will ultimately depend on the specific needs and requirements of the project at hand, as well as the team and the available talent in your talent pool.