Python vs Java: What’s the difference?

The difference between Python and Java mostly lies in smaller details. While Python is known for its user friendliness, Java is great for security and stability.

What are Python and Java?

Python and Java are two of the most versatile and popular programming languages out there. So if you’re thinking about learning a programming language, both of these languages should make it on to your short list. Numerous companies swear by these two languages and achieve great results with them. Each language also has its own large community of devotees. And indeed, the two languages have a lot in common. But if you’re considering which language to learn or looking for the best solution for an upcoming project, you’ll want to take a closer look at the differences between Python and Java.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Python?

Before we take a closer look at Python vs Java, we’ll introduce each of the programming languages and talk about their advantages and disadvantages.

Python was developed in 1991 by Guido van Rossum and prioritises simplicity and readability. Compared with most other programming languages, it’s very easy to understand. Thanks to its close connection with English, it’s also relatively easy to learn and derive. Python is object oriented and platform independent and is primarily used in software development, in AI and machine learning and for web apps. It’s open source and is constantly being developed by the Python Software Foundation. You can find an introduction to the language in our Python tutorial.

Advantages of Python

  • Readability: Python can be learned relatively quickly, meaning you’ll quickly feel you can successfully use the language. If you want to implement a small project in a short amount of time without any previous knowledge, all roads will lead to Python. Moreover, the language’s clear syntax makes it well suited to collaboration. Experienced programmers can quickly get a sense of code written by someone else and start working on it right away.
  • Flexibility: Python is a very versatile and flexible language. The main reason for this is its platform-independent structure. That means that it’s fully possible to start a project on one operating system and use the result on another system. The object-oriented approach and the use of a portable interpreter also contribute to its flexibility.
  • Open source: Open-source principles have long been at Python’s core. That means that the language is not only free and open source but that it’s constantly being developed. This keeps the language modern and in step with all the most recent developments.
  • Community: So who’s working on these new developments? Python has a huge community of developers who work on documentation and optimisation and are there to answer beginners’ questions.
  • Business: This approach appeals not only to smaller developers but also to large companies. Google, Spotify, Uber and Netflix all use Python in one form or another. The success of these companies speaks volumes about the language and its future prospects.

Disadvantages of Python

  • Speed: Python is slow relative to the competition. This won’t be as obvious for small projects but will likely be noticeable when it comes to more comprehensive apps.
  • Mobile devices: Python also falls short when it comes to developing for mobile devices, which is why relatively few mobile apps are written with Python. And in fact, iOS and Android cannot natively run Python apps.
  • Errors: Python is very secure, but its dynamic approach means that many errors aren’t detected before runtime. That means that programs written in Python require more testing.
  • Crossover: No other programming language is as simple as Python. However, that also means that it doesn’t play well with other languages. If you want or need to switch to another language in the middle of your project, you’ll have to start from scratch.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Java?

Java is slightly younger than Python. The class-based, object-oriented language was released in 1995. It’s especially popular for mobile apps, web servers and embedded systems. Java is also platform independent and thus very flexible. The language is under the GNU General Public License, making it freely available and editable. It’s a registered trademark of Sun Microsystems and Oracle.

Advantages of Java

  • Portability: Java is platform independent and therefore very portable. Regardless of which platform you write your Java code on, you can easily use it in other systems or pass it along to co-workers. This independence facilitates a more effective workflow.
  • Libraries: There are numerous functions and libraries for Java, meaning there will often be a pre-existing solution you can use. They’re tested and proven, which means less work for you.
  • Security: Security is a top priority with Java. Individual security levels can be freely configured and don’t have any negative effects on performance. Code that’s not secure can be tested and checked in a contained environment, which will eliminate the risk of damaging files and systems.
  • Community: Java also has a large and engaged community that creates documentation and is there to help if you get stuck. This means that bugs and other problems can be quickly identified and solved.

Disadvantages of Java

  • Wordiness: Java is a bit simpler than many other languages thanks to its use of terms from everyday language. This can of course be an advantage, but also has the downside that lines of code can get very long and wordy.
  • Performance: Java’s performance doesn’t always meet expectations. This is because it uses a relatively large amount of memory. When automatic memory management is being used (that is, when a program thread isn’t executed), even more memory is used. Languages that are compiled directly into machine code are faster.
  • GUI for desktops: Java leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to graphic interfaces for desktops. The language is very well suited to mobile environments but has some catching up to do in desktop environments.

What sets Python and Java apart?

Now that we’ve looked at the two languages individually, let’s get into the differences between Python and Java.

Syntax

The most obvious differences between Python and Java can be found in their syntax. Python is known for its short and simple syntax. Many terms are taken from English, and you’ll usually just need a few lines for code. Java, on the other hand, is significantly more complex, typed and requires knowledge of classes and keywords. The rules are very strict, meaning that even the smallest of errors will make the code unreadable.

Here’s an example of Python’s Syntax:

>>> print("Hi! This is Python.")
python

And this is the corresponding code in Java:

class Hello {
   public static void main/String[] args) {
      System.out.println("Hi! This is Java.");
   }
}
java

Other differences between Python and Java

In addition to syntax, Python and Java also differ with regard to the following:

  • Performance: Both programming languages have room for improvement when it comes to performance, but Java is faster overall. This is primarily due the fact that Java takes a static approach while Python is dynamic. Java processes code in advance and delivers it as byte code, whereas Python compiles it at runtime.
  • User friendliness: This one clearly goes to Python. From simpler setup to day-to-day work in the language, Python is the more user-friendly and simple language. Java is much more complicated and comes with a higher learning curve.
  • Implementation: Java is a compiled language. It translates codes completely into machine language and then executes it. Python is an interpreted language. Statements are translated and directly executed. This makes the language clearer but also slower.
  • Stability: Both languages are very stable, but Java has earned a particularly good reputation in this area over the years. Numerous security features, analysis tools and compatibility with older versions ensure that Java-based projects are well-protected and will run stably.

Which language wins in Python vs Java?

So which language comes out ahead? That will vary from case-to-case and usually hinge on details. For a quick job and quick success, Python will probably be the best choice. Work in large teams will also be easier in Python. However, Java might be the choice of experienced programmers who value stability, can navigate more complex syntax and are working on mobile apps.

Tip

Curious about how Python stacks up to other languages? In our Digital guide, we compare Python vs C++, Python vs R, Python vs Matlab and Python vs PHP.

In order to provide you with the best online experience this website uses cookies. By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies. More Info.
Manage cookies