Java vs Python: Key Differences and Similarities

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Java and Python are two popular object-oriented programming languages. They help design and develop computer applications that are useful in the real world. There are some key differences between the languages which make one more suitable for a project than the other. In this article, we discuss the differences, practical applications, and which one may be better suited for you.

Related: What Is a Computer Programmer? Definition and Career Advice

What is Java?

Java is an object-oriented programming language and computing platform. The language is machine-independent, providing great flexibility to users. Its syntax is strict and based on C and C++ language. Java is most commonly used in data centres, supercomputers, cellphones, laptops, and the internet. It is robust, easy to use, and secure.

An advantage of using Java is its ability to create modular programs and reusable codes. This helps shorten the development period for new updates and helps improve the longevity of applications. Java is also the primary language used in designing many mobile applications. Additionally, it easily adapts to new use cases like machine learning and the internet of things.

Advantages of Java

There are numerous advantages to using Java. Some of these include:

  • Java provides a programming language and a software platform.

  • It is easy to multi-task using Java. It can deal with numerous tasks in one programme and offers multi-threaded programming.

  • It is platform-independent, so you can write the code on one operating system and execute it on another.

  • It is a compiled language, which helps in reducing the chances of an error.

Disadvantages of Java

Here are some disadvantages of using Java:

  • Not following the strict syntax can lead to numerous errors during compilation.

  • It is fairly difficult to adapt to legacy code.

  • While the garbage collector operates, it may influence the performance of the application.

What is Python?

Python is a simple, easy-to-read, high-level programming language. It is an objected-oriented interpreted programming language with dynamic semantics. This means a code in Python gets compiled and executed at run time. It has a simple syntax and does not require type declaration for variables, parameters, functions and methods. However, Python has some strict indentation rules. The manner in which the indentation is done influences how the code gets executed.

Python has high-level built-in data structures that allow dynamic typing and binding. This also helps in reducing the time spent on coding. Additionally, the simple syntax helps reduce the cost of maintenance. Python does not have a compilation phase, therefore, making an edit and debugging the programme is a fast process. Owing to its ease of use and data structures, Python has become a staple in the data science industry. Professionals use it to conduct complex statistical calculations, complete data visualizations and build machine algorithms.

Advantages of Python

A key advantage of using Python is its ease of use. Other advantages of this object-oriented programming language include:

  • Python include simple syntax and it is easy to learn.

  • Python adapts easily to legacy systems, making scalability a faster process.

Disadvantages of Python

Here are some disadvantages of using Python:

  • The programming language occupies a greater disk space while coding and executing the programme.

  • It requires thorough testing since the code is compiled and executed at run time, so it is important to check for any bugs and inconsistencies that might affect the performance of the code.

Comparing Java vs. Python

Both programming languages are robust and have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Choosing between the two depends on the task you are completing. Here is a comparison of some key parameters that can help you select the appropriate programming language that suits your requirements:

Performance

The code in Python gets compiled and executed line-by-line. It is an interpreted language and determines the data type at run time. Java is a statically typed programming language where the data types get declared during coding. Therefore, even though the shorter on Python, executing the same is faster on Java.

Legacy

Any system that hampers growth and integration of new features slows the software. So, developers are constantly updating the code to keep the software robust and free of bugs. To efficiently do this, the programming languages need to integrate the old and new code. In this case, Python is more effective than Java. Python has shorter code, making it easier to read and navigate so you can make the necessary changes. Due to its easy adaptation, Python is easier to scale.

Code

Python uses dynamic types, while Java uses static types. Therefore, each variable needs to be declared on Java, increasing the length of the code. Since this is not necessary for Python, the code is shorter and easier to understand.

Database

Java's database connectivity is the most popular in the industry. Python, comparatively, has weaker access layers. The absence of graphical user interface (GUI) tools makes it complex and difficult to access the data stored. Hence, Python is rarely used in enterprises.

Stability

Python runs the syntax during the runtime. This makes it prone to bugs and may cause the software to crash. It also is imperative that the developer thoroughly checks the code as it is executed line-by-line and may not identify all bugs. Java has strict syntactical rules and reviews the code during compilation. It makes the code more stable and less prone to crashing.

Syntax

The syntax is a set of rules that defines how the statements or code in a programming language are structured. Using the right syntax is imperative to ensure that the code is correctly interpreted by the system. The syntax for each language differs, depending on how it is built. Below are the key differences in the syntax of Java and Python:

Datatypes

Java variables are type-checked during the compile time. So, all data types need to be declared in the code. On the other hand, type checking happens only at runtime in Python. Additionally, a variable name assigned to one type can be reassigned to another object of a different type. Hence, the data types are not declared in the code.

Ending a statement

All statements must end with a semicolon in Java. The absence of a semicolon may trigger an error in the programming language. It is not necessary for Python.

Indentation

The two platforms have varied indentation rules. Java requires all code blocks to be within curly braces. In Python, however, curly braces are not necessary. It identifies each block by the white space prefixed to writing the code. It affects how the code is read and executed in Python.

Cost

Java is a free programming language for personal use. In the case of a commercial license, the older versions of Java are still free, while the latest one comes at a small charge. Python is free for both personal and commercial use.

Related: Similarities and Differences Between C++ and Java

Practical applications

The purpose of Java, Python or any other programming language is to enable the growth of useful applications. Depending on the requirement, a developer may choose Java or Python. Below are some popular practical applications of Java and Python:

Web development

Java was initially for programming websites. Over the years, it has grown into an efficient language. Java can communicate with large databases and systems than Python. This makes it an efficient choice for web development.

Related: What Is a Web Application? Definition and How It Works

Mobile app development

Java is the primary language for building Android applications. Python is not the native language for mobile development for either Android or iOS. This makes it difficult to build applications using Python. Hence, is not the preferred choice of developers for mobile app development.

Machine learning and big data

Python has built its niche in this space. It is popular for big data, scientific computing, and artificial intelligence. It has outstanding data processing libraries and data visualization tools that make it a preferred programming language in this field.

Network Security

Both Java and Python are secure programming languages. Python can perform cybersecurity functions like malware analysis, while Java offers advanced authentication and access control functionalities. Java is often used to build banking web applications because of its features. While, keeping the ease of scalability in mind, many industries prefer Python to build secure networks.

Related: How To Become a Network Engineer: A Complete Guide

Which pays more: Java or Python?

With the growing demand in industries like machine learning, data science, and cyber security, Python developers earn slightly higher than Java developers. This also depends on the geographical location, skills, experience, and organization. The average salary of a junior java developer is ₹2,39,630 per annum, while the average salary of a junior python developer is ₹2,76,136 per annum.

Should I learn Java or Python?

Choosing between Java or Python depends on why you want to learn these programming languages. If your aim is to build a career in computer science or engineering, then learning Java would be a good start. It will help in understanding the intricate details of programming. Additionally, if you wish to build websites and apps, knowledge of Java is beneficial. Once you've learned Java, it becomes easier to grasp other programming languages like Python or Swift.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Explore more articles