Python vs Java

18 January, 2021

Python vs Java

Which is better, Python or Java?

  • Python and Java are both professional-level text-based languages used to develop the backend of websites, apps, and games
  • Both languages are extremely in-demand amongst employers, and can lead to great job opportunities
  • Whilst Java runs quicker and is better for developing large and complex projects, it is more difficult to learn. Python was designed as a simpler and more concise language
  • Kids can use Java to ‘mod’ in Minecraft or create Android apps, and use Python to design games or web apps, or programme hardware

Python vs Java

Python and Java are two of the most popular coding languages in the world, used in a huge range of industries from game development to data science. They power the backend of some of the world’s most popular sites and apps: Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix and Uber owe their existence to these two languages. This might sound complex, but kids and teenagers can learn these professional-level languages without too much trouble, paving the way to creative endeavours and lucrative careers. But what’s the difference between Python and Java?

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Python

Python was developed by Guido van Rossum in 1991, and takes its name from the BBC show Monty Python's Flying Circus. According to Stack Overflow’s 2020 Developer Survey, Python is the 3rd favorite language of over two thirds of developers, and the 4th most commonly-used language, used by nearly 45% of developers.

Python is a multipurpose language used not just for game or web development, but also in industries like artificial intelligence. AI has boomed in recent years, in particular data science and machine learning, invested in by tech giants like Facebook and Amazon. People of different disciplines working in these industries – scientists, mathematicians, programmers – needed a language which they could all understand, and so Python was developed accordingly.

Python is:

  • A high-level language. A lot of the complex syntax is processed behind the scenes, making it easier for young coders.
  • A dynamic typed language. Less words are needed to write the code, so it is more readable and more concise to type.
  • An interpreted language. At runtime, all the code is compiled, or ‘interpreted’, from source code (human language) into machine code (computer language) line-by-line.
  • A language with syntax more similar to everyday English.

To explore the opportunities Python offers, browse the Python Package Index (PyPI), a repository of software developed by the Python community. It contains over 2,700,000 files and 230,000 projects which you can download and use, with everything from artificial intelligence and social media frameworks, to music library organizers and games. There are an enormous number of third-party libraries available, which expand what you can do with Python without you having to write all the code from scratch.

Python is used for backend web development via the Django and Flask frameworks, and the Pygame library is commonly used for multimedia applications and games. Python can also be used to program hardware like the Raspberry Pi. As we’ve mentioned, Python is the main language used in machine learning and big data, two exponentially growing industries. Python developers earn an average of $59k per year according to Stack Overflow.

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Java

Java was developed in 1995. It is one of the world’s most popular programming languages, used by over 40% of developers. Java is employed to create the backend of websites, mobile and web applications, and games, and is favoured by top companies such as Uber, Airbnb, and Netflix.

Similarly to Python, Java comes with a huge library of frameworks, made from different classes (groups of objects which fulfil different functions in the program). Children choose which classes they want to use to define what their program can do. They can select a ‘superclass’ – sections of code which have already been written and can be reused as ‘subclass’ in a new program, so they don’t have to do everything themselves. We can think of a superclass as the parent code and the subclass as the child which inherits their parent’s characteristics.

However, Java differs from Python in two important ways. Java is:

  • A static typed language. This means that the code is checked for errors during compile-time (while you are writing it), and errors are flagged as you go. It’s not possible to run your program until you’ve debugged.
  • A compiled language. The machine code is written as you go along, and doesn’t need to be ‘interpreted’ by another program at runtime, speeding up the process for complex projects.

In industry, Java is mostly used for web applications and Android app development, and the most popular framework for developing Java apps is Spring. But for kids, Java is most attractive for its gaming opportunities, in particular the chance to modify (‘mod’) the source code of Minecraft. Gaming can lead to great things: as Java is greatly in demand among employers, there are ample Java development job opportunities, with an average annual wage of $50k according to Stack Overflow.

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Similarities

Clearly, Python and Java have some similarities: Both:

  • Are hugely popular professional-level backend languages which are used to develop the behind-the-scenes of apps, websites and games.
  • Are free to download and use.
  • Are used with a text editor, making it easier to organise the code and spot errors.
  • Are cross-platform languages which can run on all different devices, from low-spec tablets to top-of-the-range PCs.
  • Have large online communities to support coders of all ages and abilities.
  • Have extensive libraries supporting a range of projects.

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Differences

But there are some key differences which can influence your child’s coding path.

  • Though Java’s speed makes it ideal for developing large projects for business or industry, it doesn’t really matter for simple projects made by kids. Java is a more complex language and errors are more easily made. However, the chance to ‘mod’ in Minecraft or create simple Android apps can ease kids into this more difficult language.
  • Python was developed with simplicity, rather than speed, in mind. The bottom line is that Python is easier to write, making it more suitable for younger kids. Even those as young as 8 can use the language to code a range of projects. However, Python is not currently used for mobile development, which can be popular among kids.

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Where can I find Python and Java classes for kids?

At CodeAdvantage, we offer Java classes for kids which focus on Minecraft modding. Not only will your child play their favourite game, but they will be learning at the same time and getting a taste of a real programming language! Our classes are structured as an introduction to coding and children are not expected to have any prior coding experience, as our expert instructors will guide them from the basic concepts of programming to creating exciting independent projects. Best of all, your children can test, share, and play their mods with the entire class!

  • For 6-8 year olds: Minecraft Club. Our instructors will guide your child through the different aspects of Minecraft while teaching them about a variety of important topics including architecture, physics, and circuitry. By the end, they’ll have the knowledge and skills to create their own projects!
  • For 8-11 year olds: Minecraft Java Mods. Your child can join the Gold, Iron, or Diamond classes to build and mod their game worlds, design minigames, and learn the fundamentals of Java programming.
  • For 11-13 year olds: Minecraft Modding: Java. There are two themed classes - Minecraft Modding: Bedrock and Minecraft Modding: Obsidian. Children will create and customise mods and minigames, learn proper Java syntax and game design theory, and learn to manage a multiplayer server.

CodeAdvantage’s online Python classes for kids are aimed at 10-15 year olds. These advanced programming lessons teach real-world coding essentials in a fun and educational way, advancing children’s knowledge from learning basic data types to writing conditionals and building their own games. Past student projects include adventure games, guessing games, and customised screensaver graphics.

Photos by  Hitesh ChoudharyCampaign CreatorsAdi GoldsteinCaspar Camille RubinDlanor S, Greg RakozyClaudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash