Java vs Python: An analysis of two popular programming languages
January 4, 2024
The arena of software development is now replete with a wide variety of programming languages and corresponding frameworks to help developers build applications with little downtime, while also ensuring accuracy through tried-and-tested templates and automated testing.
Within this abundance that constantly sees new entrants into the development marketplace, Java and Python still stand out as reliable programming languages for a wide variety of use cases. Owing to their popularity, numerous Java and Python frameworks now also exist – while more continue to mushroom, thereby giving software companies in Sri Lanka and their developers an endless range of framework options to choose from.
As a software outsourcing company ourselves, our development teams here at EFutures have hands-on experience working with Java and Python alike. In this article, we break down the differences between Java and Python, as well as how each of these programming languages can be used for meeting specific business requirements. Read on to know more!
Key differences between Java and Python
Java vs Python: Language syntax
Although Java web development is praised for its ease owing to simplicity in comparison to programming languages such as C and C++, it is relatively more complex than Python. Being more complicated out of the two, Java still offers a cross-platform capability, which therefore makes it versatile for building applications for any device or browser.
Java vs Python: Type declarations
Java is a statically typed language, which means that data types (the nature of data values) need to be explicitly declared beforehand. Additionally, type checking (the process to verify whether variables have been assigned their correct data types) is completed during compile time i.e. when code is converted into a machine readable format.
Python, on the other hand, is simpler; data types need not be manually declared, as these can be automatically detected by the programming language. Type checking is also done during runtime, thereby making Python comparatively faster. However, there is a caveat – Python can be more prone to errors compared to Java, as the wrong data types can be assigned to variables.
Java, even though slower as all this groundwork needs to be done in advance, is likely to have less errors during application runtime, as a result.
Java vs Python: Scalability
Being a programming language that has been well established for decades, Java is ideal for building web and software applications that are larger and more intricate in nature. This makes Java highly scalable too. However, increasing complexity pertaining to larger (especially legacy) applications can still cause problems, owing to resource crunches and outdated services. As a result, Java-based applications need to be closely monitored for performance lags and technical debt – something which can be done by outsourcing Java developers for your project.
Python, on the other hand, can offer greater simplicity to build, test and run applications owing to its easy syntax. This also makes it a good starting point for developers who are new to the field, thereby offering greater reliability when it comes to scaling – even in the wake of a high runtime error rate.
Java vs Python: Community support
Whether it’s the best Java frameworks or the best Python frameworks, communities surrounding both programming languages offer extensive support for novice and expert developers alike to build code from templates that have been well tried and tested, while also discussing issues with well experienced peers. In turn, this makes Java and Python both well supported by developers from around the globe.
Java vs Python: Use cases
Owing to their unique strengths and weaknesses, Java and Python each have a set of use cases they are best for. Additionally, they can also be used together for the same project, with different components built from different languages in order to optimise performance. Java is ideally suited to larger web application projects, while Python, thanks to its easier syntax, is great for any kind of data analytics and machine learning project, ranging from data science to business intelligence.
IT outsourcing companies that consist of teams of specialist developers can ascertain which skill sets shall work best across each individual use case. This way, businesses can be assured that the right resources are put to task, while staying within budget and timeframe limitations.
Java or Python: which programming language is best for your business needs?
While there is no confirmed answer as to whether Java or Python is better for your business’s unique needs, ascertaining, rather, which language is better suited to which area of your project is a far more worthwhile discussion to have with your teams. In turn, this enables your software development teams, be they in-house or outsourced, to decide whether to hire Java developers or Python developers, so the right balance of skills can be sought for your custom project.
In order to make better sense of the Java vs Python debate, the following steps will help:
Assess your business end goals: What are the KPIs that your business needs to ultimately achieve in order to be profitable as well as valuable in the eyes of all your stakeholders? Answers to this question and similar ones shall first determine what your web or software development project needs to deliver.
Discuss your project on a modular level: Now that you know what your web or software application needs to do in order to offer customers, employees and any other stakeholders that use it, your software development team shall be able to figure out the technicalities. This includes infrastructure, resources, development platforms as well as programming languages, for each section of the project.
Monitor and iterate as needed: Once your software development team decides which programming languages and their respective frameworks are suited to each area of your project, it is advisable to monitor performance post-implementation to identify how software maintenance can be conducted, ideally via a CI/CD or DevOps approach.
Java and Python are both well established programming languages that have long since proven their resourcefulness across a range of customised use cases. Java, being the older of the two, serves a strong presence in the field of building large and complex web applications. Python, on the other hand, is simpler, lighter and therefore a great option for numerous machine learning applications, for uses such as data science, sentiment analysis and business intelligence.
While Java and Python each have their strengths, they also have certain limitations which make them more suited to one use case over another. Although Java is highly compatible for building larger applications, it can also get clunky over time, thereby making it harder to maintain – especially where legacy code is involved. Conversely, Python may be faster out of the two programming languages, but it is more susceptible to errors as type assignment and checking aren’t done beforehand – compared to Java, which does the same during compilation itself.
Ultimately, deciding which programming language is better for your business needs is something that is best discussed with your software development team, as they have the technical expertise as well as access to resources in order to make a well informed decision. Business leaders nonetheless should always stay at the forefront of operations, so direction can be provided for meeting KPIs better and enhancing CX, while staying within constraints surrounding time and budget.
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Q1: Java or Python: which programming language is better?
A: Whether Java or Python is better highly depends on the unique needs of your business, the goals you have to achieve, and any intricacies surrounding your software development project. While some projects may exclusively function with a single programming language, others may benefit by using a combination.
Ultimately, software outsourcing companies that specialise in end-to-end software development shall be more focused on meeting end goals, irrespective of which language is used. However if needed, they can offer strategic advice on which developers to hire (Java or Python) for best results.
Q2: Can Java and Python be used together for software development?
A: Yes, Java and Python can be used together for software development, thanks to the specific use cases each specialises in. For example, a large web application that has been built mainly on Java can be integrated with Python scripts to conduct data analytics. In turn, this makes both languages highly resourceful for software development teams, thereby seeking professionals that specialise in one or both.
Q3: Can a Java developer code in Python, and vice versa?
A: A developer who only knows the Java programming language will find it easier to learn Python, as both languages are object-oriented and consist of classes and inheritances. Compared to Java, Python’s syntax is also easier to understand, thereby making it highly compatible with developers who are familiar with Java.
While it may be a boon to hire developers that specialise in both, having developers that specialise in Java and Python each can be highly resourceful additions to your team as both sets of skills can be used to accommodate any project requirement, no matter how niche or customised.