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Łukasz Gajownik
Head of Front-end
Technical
16.02.2023 | 7 min

The 5 main differences between Java and Python

It’s 2023. Java and Python are now older than many developers that use them on a daily basis. On top of that, both are still in the top 10 most utilized technologies. What makes them so prevalent, and which should you choose for your project?

The 5 main differences between Java and Python - 2024 44
Table of Contents
  • Why are we comparing Java and Python?
  • What is Java used for?
  • What is Python used for?
  • Five key differences between Java and Python
  • Examples of projects in Java and Python
  • Which technology will be the best for my project? Java or Python?

The 5 main differences between Java and Python

Years go by, new technologies emerge, and others fade away. Java and Python, however, are still here and still at the top. So whenever a software project is developed, those two names often pop up as potential candidates for technologies to use.

So, in this article, we’ll focus on Java and Python, their differences, and their overall relevancy in the world of software development. We’ll answer answers such as:

  • What types of projects are developed in Java and Python?
  • What allows those technologies to still thrive in the modern era?
  • What are the key differences and similarities between the two?

Why are we comparing Java and Python?

On the surface level, it seems like we’re trying to answer a purely technical question. However, in the tech stack decision-making process, a vast majority of questions refer to a purely business side. So we’re not focusing on how exactly the code will be written, but we’re looking for the best set of tools that will allow us to create a perfect product. Java and Python are only some of the tools that can get us there. But there are so popular that they almost always deserve consideration.

What is Java used for?

Java is often considered an enterprise-level programming language, and it’s been successfully used to develop high-scale systems by the biggest companies in the world. At the same time, this object-oriented programming language has been used to create pretty simple games and other mobile apps in the past.

It’s fair to say, however, that nowadays, it’s very rarely picked for smaller projects due to its complexity and relatively high difficulty. Most importantly, there are many alternatives for those kinds of applications.

These days, Java is used mainly by corporations and other companies that develop large applications for multiple platforms.

What is Python used for?

Python, just like Java, is an object-oriented programming language. However, it’s significantly easier to learn and makes the development process much more straightforward and flexible compared to Java. That’s why it’s a default programming language for scientific and data science purposes. It’s also considered the best programming language for artificial intelligence and machine learning.

We explain more about it in the article:

Why Python is the best for machine learning

More and more often, due to its relatively low entry threshold, it’s also a programming language taught in schools.

What are the fundamental similarities between Java and Python?

Before we move on to the critical difference between Java and Python, we should spend a minute on the things they share. First, we must point out that they’re both insanely popular and used for many projects. Of course, it’s merely a result of many things about those technologies, but the fact that they’re popular means that:

  • there are many available libraries for both of them
  • they both have massive communities
  • they’re regularly updated
  • there are many ready-to-go solutions available
  • there’s no risk of them going obsolete anytime soon

And there’s even more to that. We talk more about the benefits of using popular technologies in the article:

Why should you consider using a popular tech stack?

In terms of purely technological details, they’re both general-purpose, object-oriented programming languages with a lot of history behind them. But, the aspects that separate Java and Python are quite significant, which makes them reasonable solutions for different types of projects.

Five key differences between Java and Python

Before we move to the actual differences, it’s worth reminding that both languages are so popular for a reason. Developers (at least some of them) enjoy using them, and some companies even have strict guidelines for product development that software must be written in those leading technologies.

One of the main reasons for that is that we can be pretty confident that software written in those languages will be sustainable and scalable thanks to their status and the wide availability of developers to extend the development team if needed.

1. Compiled (Java) vs. interpreted (Python)

The difference comes down in large part to the performance and robustness of Java and the flexibility and speed of development with Python. Java software has to be compiled, which means translating the source code to machine-native code, which happens on launch. With interpreted language such as Python, processes are performed on the fly, which can lead to slower runtime, but it makes the development process much faster. As you’ll see, this results in pretty much all the other aspects.

For example, if you want to use a variable in Java, you must define its name and type beforehand. In Python, you can simply write that x, y, z = 1, 2, 3, and that’s it. The first option is more solid and makes debugging significantly easier. The second gives devs much more freedom and allows them to create simple software in a much faster way.

However, the more complex and foolproof you want the application to be, the more you’ll want to focus on reliability. That’s why Python is often preferred for MVP projects or idea validation, and Java is used to build massive systems.

2. Performance

The other reason Java is better for more extensive projects is its performance. As a compiled language, Java software will run faster than similar software in Python, and the difference can be quite significant.

3. Scalability

In terms of scalability, Java is a clear favorite. As a scripting language, Python processes take much more power and time, so the bigger the application is, the slower it will be compared to a similar app in Java. In addition to that, Java has more libraries aimed at enterprises, which helps even more in the development of large systems.

4. Speed of development

The advantage in the speed of development is definitely on the Python side. Java requires more coding and has a more complex syntax, which makes the entire development process far more time-consuming.

On top of that, Python is much easier to learn, and it resembles the English language. That’s why it’s widely used by scientists that don’t necessarily need complex software. It also makes team extension a much more manageable challenge.

5. Cost of development (oh yeah, Python is much cheaper)

Generally speaking, it’s fair to say that the development cost in Python will be lower. The process is much more straightforward and allows for shortcuts and tweaks that simply wouldn’t be possible in a compiled language like Java.

However, we’re clearly comparing apples and oranges here. Many types of software simply cannot (or at least shouldn’t) be developed in Java, and the same goes for Python.

So, if we say that a given project will be cheaper if we choose Python, it probably means that using Java just doesn’t make sense in that particular case. No matter the situation, we always start with the project and its requirements. And that brings us to a conclusion.

Examples of projects in Java and Python

Both Java and Python are among our most often utilized programming languages.

For example, in the Clear Air Space project, we proved that Python could fly. During the project, we used not only Python but also Xamarin and C++, among others. The app was implemented by the Polish Airforce and used by F-16 pilots.

And in the case study about RAW Cyber, you can see how we used Java to create a system for a highly-secure smartphone.

Of course, you can read all our case studies here.

Which technology will be the best for my project? Java or Python?

While it may be possible to answer this question in a general sense, it’s usually counterproductive. Each project is different, and without knowing all the ins and outs, we can only guess. It can be Java, Python, or neither. And on some occasions, it can be both for different parts of the project.

Most importantly, the decision should be made carefully, with sufficient knowledge of product requirements and critical features.

The best way to figure it out is a process called product workshops. Such a process aims to answer all the crucial questions regarding the product’s purpose, target audience, and much more. We explain it thoroughly here:

Why are product workshops the most significant part of custom software development?

And if you’re looking for a group of Python or Java experts, we’re here for you.

Would you like to talk about a solution that would suit your business best?
Send us a message!
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