More than ever before, computer programming skills are in demand. Job sites such as monster.com are flooded with requests for applicants with computer knowledge. Careers in computer programming are lucrative — many pay salaries of $100,000 or higher. So, the temptation for a job seeker to learn a programming language is high.
But what language should an aspiring computer programmer learn? While there are many options available to the beginner, certain languages probably should be avoided. Assembly, for example, is an extremely difficult language to learn, especially as a first programming language, and is probably not appropriate. Other languages simply are not in demand, and also should be avoided. These languages include Visual BASIC and Pascal, among others. While these languages have their adherents, they are not popular and so finding a career only knowing one of these languages will not be as easy as it would be if the student knows a more popular language.
Two programming languages which are popular and can be paths to lucrative careers are Java and Python. Java is a commonly used programming language which is responsible for creating every Android app ever made. No matter what Android app you purchase on your smartphone, the underlying code is Java. In the contest between Python vs, Java, Java certainly can be seen as a legitimate choice.
Python, on the other hand has been used to create such Internet mainstays as BitTorrent, Dropbox, and Cinema 4D. While newer than Java, Python is ferociously popular, and has widespread support. When considering Python Vs Java, Python is also a valid choice for the beginning programmer.
However, there are also other factors to be considered. Python also has a lot of support, and there are probably nearly as many libraries for Python as there are for Java. Python also seems to be becoming more popular as a language, while Java is on a slow decline. Java still will be relevant for years to come, but the “trendy” language right now appears to be Python. So, the decision between Python Vs Java isn't quite as clear as it seems at first glance.
Python: Some Advantages
Why is Python becoming so popular? The first and most obvious reason is that Python is more flexible than Java and related languages (C, C++, C#). Java is a static language, while Python is a dynamic language. A static language has some defining characteristics. According to Stackify.com, variables must be defined before they are used by the programmer. In other words, the coder must take a line of code to “tell” the computer what a variable means before using it in their program. This takes time and Python doesn’t require that a programmer complete this step while coding and may introduce variables at their convenience.
Also, Java requires the programmer to declare run types before it can compile (more on compiling later). So, not only does the programmer have to tell the computer the value in the variable before it can be used, the programmer must tell the computer what type of information the variable holds. This obviously is more inflexible than Python, which doesn’t require any of that information to create a variable. Python definitely has an edge in flexibility in considering the benefits of Python Vs Java.
Interpreted Vs Compiled Languages
According to Dzone.com, Java is a language that needs to be compiled, although the compilation process for Java is a little different than for most other languages. When a program written in Java is finished and needs to be run, the programmer must process the Java program through a compiler, which is a program that interprets the Java and converts it to Java Virtual Machine byte code. This code is then compiled or interpreted further, depending on the type of program and/or the performance desired.
Disadvantages of Python
Meanwhile, Python is an interpreted language. This means that Python doesn’t need to go through a compiler and runs without having to be converted to machine language first. Instead, an automated interpreter converts Python code to machine language on the fly. So, Python doesn't need to go through the time-consuming step of compilation, which is another advantage to consider if the coder is considering Python Vs. Java.
If Python is so much more flexible and easier to work with than Java, why does anyone work with Java at all? Well, unfortunately, all of this speed and flexibility has a downside. First of all, as with most dynamic languages, it is very easy to accidentally create a variable in Python. For example, consider this situation. A Python programmer has created a variable named “CASH”. This variable is used throughout a 2,000-line program. However, in one instance, the programmer accidentally made a typo and typed in “CAHS” instead of “CASH”. Because the programmer is using Python, they have just created a new variable (and probably a nasty bug as well)!
Because Java is so rigidly defined, it is nearly impossible to create a variable in this manner. The complier will catch the programmer’s mistake and point out which line contains the typo. The program will not run, and the programmer will fix the error and re-compile. This advantage is an excellent reason to consider Java when debating Python Vs Java.
Unlike Java, Python will attempt to interpret any and all code that the programmer types in. Sometimes this results in unpredictable results, which are difficult to troubleshoot. In our instance noted above, for example, there technically is no error in Python. The programmer has simply created a new variable named “CAHS” which is legal in that language. The program will run and the new variable may do nothing or it may interfere with the legitimate “CASH” variable. Much would depend on the programming or the whim of the interpreter, which the programmer cannot control.
Also, the use of a interpreter comes at a cost. While it is undeniably easier for the programmer to simply click “Run” and have the program execute, a program using an interpreter will generally be slower than a program that has been compiled and has already been converted to machine code. Quite simply, the interpreter cannot convert as quickly on the fly. There are exceptions to this rule, and there are instances in which Python is faster than Java while running certain processes. But these instances are rare, and generally Java is quicker than Python when running programs.
One instance in which Python does have a speed advantage over Java is regarding GPUs (graphics processing units). While most of us think of GPUs as being handy for playing Doom, Python can utilize multiple cores on a GPU to work in tandem in order to run processes. Meanwhile, Java isn’t as efficient in utilizing a GPU, although Java is generally better than Python in utilizing all of the cores on a CPU (central processing unit). Because much of modern programming is still CPU-dependent, this should probably be considered a benefit for Java when thinking about Python Vs Java.
Language Syntax – A Quick Summary
Other differences between the two languages are subtler but are worth mentioning. Java encloses their commands in braces, which is a common syntax if the programmer is familiar with HTML, CSS or C++. However, Python does not use braces and instead uses indentations in order to separate commands. While Java programmers can get subjectively sloppy with braces, Python programmers must maintain a high level of neatness with their indentations. Otherwise, Python programmers run the risk of introducing errors.
Python is also well-suited for teaching, as code snippets can be included in documents and the snippets will function as intended. This trait holds true for documents with pictures as well and even graphs may be included. Of course, Java needs to be compiled before it can function. Therefore, any inclusion of a document, picture or graph will confuse the compiler, so this is one area in which Python is the clear winner.