Java vs. Python for App Development: The War of Fierce Backend Rivals

java vs. python


The year 2022 continued the booming application development trend, concisely expressed in the line “Everything you need needs an app.” Boosted by the (post-)pandemic demand of the people secluded in their homes and unable to communicate live, application development continues to skyrocket. So, it’s the most logical and wise step for both junior and senior frontend and backend website developers to find the best programming language for impactful applications. Nevertheless, choosing between Java vs. Python is often complex and confusing.

Our article helps you to decide responsibly. Firstly, we will describe essential Java and Python tools and frameworks, explaining which one is the best for practical applications. Secondly, some graphs and statistic data will show you yearly popularity fluctuations. Finally, we will sum everything up in the brief, illustrious table to make it even more transparent. So, let’s start with essential features and tools — helping you judge the Java vs. Python fight.

java top features

What are the top features of Java?

  • Inspired by C and C++ languages.
  • Its apps are highly interactive and responsive.
  • It was meant to be WORA (write once, run anywhere) language, run on any platform with minimum restrictions due to JVM (Java virtual machine).
  • A fully object-oriented language.
  • Supports multiple open-source libraries.
  • Characterized by static-typing syntax — less prone to errors, a lot easier and faster for compilation than dynamic-typed one- has several available frameworks for quick app building.

What famous websites are built on Java?

Cash App, Twitter, Airbnb, Pinterest, Spotify

Java is a trendy choice for web development (mostly among seniors). It is an excellent option for Desktop GUI applications, Enterprise Solutions, Embedded Systems, and web app services. What is more, it has the NLP community that will gladly give you a helping hand. Thanks to its robustness, Java is usually considered the prime option for business enterprises and big corporations.

 The next in line is Python — conquering the IT market with the rapidness of a snake (pun intended).

java vs. python pharaoh

What are the top features of Python?

  • A high-level and user-friendly language with syntax and operators resembling ordinary English.
  • An interpreted language (unlike C++ or Java): it executes code line by line. Thus, it is easier to debug it (also line by line).
  • Stresses on DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) principle (so, each function has its unique chunk of code).
  • Like Java, supports both object-oriented and functional programming features; unlike Java, supports multiple inheritances.
  • Python code runs on different kinds of OS (make sure it does not contain system-specific peculiarities).
  • This language is extensible. That means, you can write parts of your code in it, embedding them into the different programming language.
  • Python has a vast collection of built-in libraries — for browsers, databases, image processing, document processing, etc. Therefore, you don’t need to download them separately.
  • Its interpreter and resource library are freely available on the web.

What famous websites are built on Python?

Netflix, Google, YouTube, Quora, Uber, Dropbox, Pinterest

Now that we’re done with basic facts, it’s high time to dive into the information about frameworks and libraries — the cornerstones of the well-maintained app building process.

What is the framework? It is very complicated to write your backend technology from the bottom up. Furthermore, it is extremely tough to fulfill all design requirements, making a reliable and effective product. That’s why developers created frameworks — abstractions in software allowing you to build your backend technology and apps without creating everything from scratch. The framework is built on top of the programming language, and when you use it, it calls the built-in code (on the contrary, when you use a code from some library, it calls the library function). Generally, frameworks include predefined classes, functions, and instruments to build applications faster and avoid reinventing the wheel.

Top frameworks: Java vs. Python

Top Java frameworks

  • Spring – opensource framework to build Enterprise web apps.
  • Struts – also excellent for web apps, supports MVC (Model-View-Controller) model.
  • Hibernate – Object-Relational-Mapping (ORM) database for Java apps.
  • Apache Wicket – widely used framework with many components (reusable packages with images, buttons, forms, links).
  • Java Server Faces – supports MVC framework and has reusable UI components for server-based apps, supports drag and drop UI features.

Top Python frameworks

  • Django – free, open-source full-stack framework, supports MVT (Model-View-Template) architecture.
  • Flask – lightweight modular design framework for web apps, supports various features – built-in fast debugger, and unit testing.
  • Bottle – lightweight popular microframework to build APIs. Supports built-in HTTP server, plugins for various databases.
  • Web2py – full-stack framework including code editor debugger and one-click deployment, lets you manage errors.
  • CherryPy – open-source microframework holding built-in multi-threaded server, integrated profiling, testing support.

Python web frameworks are secure, scalable, and flexible. What is more, Python’s Package Index comes with useful libraries like Requests, BeautifulSoup, Paramiko, Feedparser, and Twisted Python. 

Python makes app development unbelievably fast because it’s practical and straightforward. If you aim at speed, Python is most likely the best solution. Java projects tend to take longer and may require larger development teams. Building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) in Python might be truly fast (in a matter of weeks), while in Java, the same process would probably take months. Besides, Python supports data analysis and visualization tools that simplify customized solutions greatly. Hopefully, all the mentioned facts will help you make your mind in the evergreen struggle — Java vs. Python — and find your special software junior or senior developer with tremendous skills. 

java vs. python calendars

Java vs. Python: popularity over years

Nothing serves us best in the field of comparison than a few illustrious graphs. Naturally, they can’t resolve such a profound issue as choosing the best programming language for web apps that will potentially change the world in a blink of an eye, but if you need a few statistics, we’ll gladly provide you with them.

Look at the graph below. For the last couple of years, Python and Java have been running cheek by jowl: back in 2014, Java was twice as popular, but in 2018, Python started gaining momentum and is now more popular than Java. The situation is unstable: it depends on the development of the language functionality and the success of the applications and projects built using this language.

Java Python popularity
Source: GitHub Octoverse

According to Google Trends (analyzing mentions and statistics for each search term), back in 2004, nothing beckoned for nowadays booming Python popularity, and Java was on the throne. Nevertheless, the situation has changed drastically: Python is earning its points, and Java’s mentions have met rapid fall. Put it in the context of the previous graph, and everything starts appearing logical.

google trends
Python VS Java – Google Trends (2021)

To make everything even more precise, let’s sum it all up in two lists — one is for Java, another one is for Python. Whom will you look for — Java or Python, junior or senior, back end or front end developers? Make up your mind!

Java

Code: lengthy lines, operators, and blocks

Dynamic/static: static, on the contrary to Python, it’s necessary to indicate data types

Syntax: blocks in curly braces, semicolons at the end of lines & the whole program

Portability: JVM (Java virtual machine) is standard and available everywhere

Speed: Java is faster than Python

Easy: No

Backend frameworks: Spring and Blade

Machine learning libraries: Weka, Mallet, MOA, Deeplearning4j

Game development engines: JMonkeyEngine

Java is the best for:

  • Mobile applications;
  • Big-scale enterprise solutions;                
  • Desktop GUI apps.

Python

Code: small lines, semicolons not used

Dynamic/static: dynamic, you don’t need to declare variable types

Syntax: indentation required (mainly for readability), braces are not

Portability: yes

Speed: slower than Java (interprets variables and types on the run)

Easy: Yes

Backend frameworks: Django and Flask for building apps

Machine learning libraries: Tensorflow, Pytorch Machine Learning Library

Game development engines: Cocos, Panda3d

Python is the best for:

  • Games;
  • Image processing and graphic design;
  • Language development;
  • Machine learning apps;
  • Operating systems;
  • Prototyping.

Java vs. Python: to each their own

Stackoverflow’s 2020 developer survey showed Python as the fastest-growing programming language after taking over C# and PHP. Such surveys still rank Java above Python (45% of developers for the former, 39% for the latter). However, that gap is rapidly closing (see graphs above).

One can use both languages in back-end web development (creating the software that runs on servers). What is the difference? Java is comparatively faster, but Python is better for lengthy programs. Python will be better if you start with IT and choose the language to embark on for further app development since its learning curve is somewhat more gradual than Java’s. All in all, everything depends upon the type of programs and projects you are going to create. If you start investigating natural language tasks, Python might be a more suitable option due to its vast NLP toolkit. In case you are into enterprise-level business programs, maybe it’s high time to look upon Java.

Alas, there’s no such thing as the universally best programming language. It is clear that no language is perfect for all the possible tasks: too many variables influence the outcome. All in all, the best language meets the maximum of the program requirements — so before deciding about the language, think over the core details of your future project. Suppose you’ve already completed the project outline and have been looking for the devs with specific roles and responsibilities to bring it to life. So, the outcome of the Javs vs. Python battle is clear for you. In that case, it’s due time to examine the world of bidding and vetting marketplaces where you can choose the most suitable candidates.

Nowadays, one can come across multiple surveys of the online freelance platforms — generally, they help create an overall picture of the web market and give you the needed background for the informed choice. One of the most comprehensive analyses overviewing possible pros and cons is given by Lemon.io. Hopefully, you’ll decide for yourself who is the winner in this battle of Java vs. Python. No matter what you choose and what software developer will be the best for your project, remember: the world of apps is rapidly expanding, and to make your project noticed, you’d better be top-notch!