Java VS JavaScript: Which Programming Language Should You Choose?

Java vs JavaScript: Which Language Should You Choose in 2021?

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To this day, Java and JavaScript cause a lot of confusion, as there's a common misconception that they are variants of the same language. In reality, as it was ironically noted by a web developer Jeremy Keith, "Java is to JavaScript as ham is to a hamster.”

  • Java is an object-oriented programming language developed under the slogan "Write once, run anywhere." It was originally developed by Sun Microsystems in 1995 and later acquired by Oracle. Java is widely used in the enterprise environment for proprietary software and Android development. Its syntax was influenced by C and C++.
  • JavaScript (JS) is a high-level, object-oriented programming language developed for client-side scripting in browsers in 1995 but already under Java's influence. It became popular only ten years later, following the WWW evolution. Currently, JS is one of the main driving forces behind the Internet's further development. More than 97% of websites worldwide use JavaScript.

Even if one can say these two languages are somewhat similar in syntax, they differ in application and purposes.  Have you ever wondered which is better - Java vs JavaScript? Here’s a brief guide on each language’s features.

JavaScript

JS completely dominates frontend development. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the triad of instruments for web developers. JS, in this case, makes pages interactive. However, this language is more powerful than just zooming in and out a page, changing a button's color upon hovering the mouse on it, or animating drop-down menus.

JS is one of the most popular programming languages worldwide. Programmers find it relatively easy to learn, which makes it attractive to beginners. However, thousands of experienced professionals also opt for JS. The Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020 results show that 69.7% of professional developers voted for JS. The Java vs JavaScript popularity gap is roughly 30% here. Moreover, the language has been holding its strong position for eight years in a row.

A great variety of convenient frameworks and libraries also contribute to JS's overall success. Google’s Angular and Facebook’s React are the main two examples. E-commerce giant Alibaba built its app using the Vue.js framework. Among other benefits, frameworks enable programmers to reuse JavaScript code, which significantly speeds up the development process.

Backend runtime environment Node.js was a gamechanger for JavaScript. Today, JS is used for both client-side and server-side code. It means developers no longer need to rely on external web servers. It also took JS out of the browser limitations and gave it more power and ways of implementation.

JavaScript has become vital for many e-commerce companies. In a tough competitive environment, often, it's all about user engagement. JS meets this challenge like no other tool. It makes mobile and web applications dynamic and more sophisticated. Immediate feedback, slideshows, custom design, and animations – these and many other features are easy to implement in your business app using JavaScript.

Besides, JS is good for analytics and web tracking. You can adjust your business strategy based on page views and click tracking. Such simple - from a customer's point of view - actions like loading an abandoned shopping cart can make a big difference for your business.

Java

What is Java used for? It was originally invented for smart home appliances, but many large companies wanted to use Java in their products upon seeing its convenience and flexibility. It's used to develop server software, desktop programs, and applications for Android-based devices. It is also used in software for various household smart devices and even Tesla electric vehicles.

In Github’s 2020 State of the Octoverse, Java takes third place in the popularity report. Although it had experienced a small drop for the previous two years, the Java developers have stayed loyal to this language since 2014.

Java is an object-oriented, “industrial” programming language. It runs payment terminals, smart devices, and huge server systems. For many, it’s associated with gigantic corporations, endless server rooms, and financial markets. The main feature of Java is adaptivity. Java code written on one platform will run on other devices. Software written in this language runs on Java Virtual Machine, which provides code optimization and memory management.

Java is highly popular in many fields – from Android apps to backend systems. Google, YouTube, Facebook, eBay, and Amazon use it in their backend development. Square, the world leader in digital payments and financial services, uses a Java-based cash transaction stack.

Java vs JavaScript: Main Differences

You can understand the fundamental difference between Java and JavaScript by looking closer at their use cases.

Java’s deep integration in the enterprise world means that the language is very conservative and somewhat stagnant. Since it became a “mature” language a long time ago, any new breaking changes are sacrificed to keep maximum backward compatibility and predictability. This fact is particularly relevant for building large backend infrastructures and proprietary software for international corporations.

Compared to Java, the infrastructure around JavaScript is young and very dynamic. Even if the language doesn’t change too rapidly, the ways it’s used may evolve too quickly to keep up. From a simple tool created “to make a web page funnier," it’s become an instrument for building entire websites and mobile and desktop applications from the ground up. JavaScript is on the edge of Internet evolution. And it always must stay agile and have room for new ideas to keep its leading positions.

The aim of any comparison between these two languages is not to decide whether either of them is “better." They have almost the opposite core values, which emerged historically through the process of their usage.

What’s Similar?

  • Popularity

Both Java and JavaScript are extremely popular among professional developers. It ensures continuous development of documentation and strong community support for beginners and experienced programmers. It also powers a huge market for highly skilled professionals.

  • Cross-Platform Features

Both languages run on the additional layer of abstraction, which acts as a virtual machine, providing a 100% compatible environment for code to run. For Java, it is JVM (Java Virtual Machine) while JS runs in any modern browser or on its core software like Chromium or a web server like Node.js.

  • Syntax

Java directly influenced JavaScript, so it’s no wonder that you'll find lots and lots of similar-looking code across them.

What’s Different?

  • Development

Although JavaScript has found its implementation uses on the server-side and is widely used in full-stack web development, the backend usage is not even close to its frontend success. 

Java is a proven backend-only language. Besides, its cross-platform features are utilized a lot more compared to JS. Smartphones, web, desktop software, or embedded systems – Java is everywhere. 

  • Historical Usage

JavaScript has risen with the Internet. JavaScript is the perfect choice for customizing the user interface (UI) and creating any advanced in-browser logic like form verification or table sorting.

Java is highly popular in the financial and government sectors, embedded systems, and Android development. Natural language processing systems are also often written in Java.

  • Complexity

JavaScript is a common choice for beginners in programming. It is appealing for startups and efficient for MVP development. 

Java is usually a prerogative of conservative, experienced professionals. Industry giants opt for this language when creating complex proprietary systems. 

Questions & Answers

What Is Object-Oriented Programming Language?

These languages are based on the principles of object-oriented programming. According to this approach, the software is designed around data that is seen as objects rather than on logic and functions. Object-oriented languages were created to maintain, debug, and reuse software more easily. 


What Is the Main Difference Between Java and JavaScript?

JavaScript is mainly used in web development. It uses a web browser as its environment. Although Node.js enables JavaScript code to run on a server-side, it's mostly used in frontend development. Java code runs in Java Virtual Machine. The code can be run on any platform or device with the preinstalled environment.

JavaScript vs Java: Is Either of Them Better?

Besides popularity rates and great community support, the two languages don't have much in common. They are fundamentally different languages serving individual purposes. That's is why any comparison between Java and JavaScript merely focuses on defining the differences and the tasks they can successfully solve.

JavaScript vs Java: Are They the Same Language?

Despite common misconceptions, Java and JavaScript are two standalone languages and not an evolution of the same one. JavaScript is an object-oriented scripting language mainly used in frontend and web development. Java is also an object-oriented programming language but used in backend development. 

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