Java vs. JavaScript: What’s the Difference?

You might be wondering whether Java and JavaScript are related to each other because their names share the word ‘Java’. Actually, the truth is they couldn’t be more different, apart from they both are immensely popular.

These two programming languages cater to different domains of programming. So we can’t tell you which one to learn, but we can make your decision easier by explaining the pros and cons of each.

Java vs. JavaScript: What's the Difference?

What is Java?

Java is a fully object-oriented language, which means everything in Java is an Object. OOP languages try to mimic the real world through these objects. If you have worked with C, you should know that a C program is a list of commands or instructions. It is difficult to develop enterprise applications with such an approach, and that’s where the OOP paradigm comes in to play.

Another important thing about Java is it was developed with portability in mind. This is achieved with the help of JVM and bytecode.  JVM is responsible for executing Java codes. When you run a Java code, JVM first creates a machine-independent intermediate code called bytecode.  You can execute this bytecode on another machine as well; hence we call Java is portable.

Java has over 1 billion downloads annually and runs on more than 1 billion devices. This should give you an idea about how popular Java is.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript was invented to make static HTML web pages dynamic and allow users to interact with the webpage. However, JavaScript has come a long way since its inception and has drastically changed frontend development with frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue. Moreover, learning JavaScript doesn’t limit you to front end development anymore. JavaScript frameworks can be used for server-side applications with Node.Js and Mobile developments with frameworks like React Native and Cordova. Lastly, we can’t forget desktop applications, Electron and Meteor are some of the tools that can make desktop applications a piece of cake.

Key Differences Between Java and JavaScript?

Many new programmers may not be familiar with the differences between these two languages. So let’s go into detail about the main aspects that separate them and how they become suitable for different aspects of programming.

  • Compiled vs. Interpreted: Java is a compiled programming language, and JavaScript is an interpreted scripting language. The difference is in the implementation. Java translates the source code into machine-readable code and executes it on the JVM as a “.class” file, while JavaScript is interpreted and executed on a browser.
  • Static vs. Dynamic Type Checking: Java uses static form checking where the attribute value is checked at the time of compilation. This makes the code faster and uses less memory. Like most scripting languages, JavaScript uses dynamic typing, where the type of safety is verified at runtime. So each variable is checked every time the code executes, making it slower and more resource-intensive.
  • Class-Based vs. Prototype Based: Java implements class-based inheritance meaning that it determines the properties in a class and inherits them to instances of that class (its members). In JavaScript, inheritance is prototypal, and all objects can inherit from other objects directly. Hierarchy is achieved by assigning an object with a constructor function as a prototype.
  • Constructors: Java uses constructors, which have some special properties like constructor chaining and ensuring that superclass constructors operate before subclass ones. On the other hand, JavaScript constructors have no strict rules.
  • Concurrency: Java and JavaScript handle simultaneous actions very differently. Java uses multiple threads to carry out multiple tasks in parallel. JavaScript manages rivalry on one main execution thread. This works perfectly for most use-cases, but Java is generally faster because the thread to thread memory management is more efficient than communicating between processes (IPC).
  • Applicability: JavaScript has a unique place in Web development, along with HTML and CSS. Java is more versatile with a presence in many domains of programming. We’ll be talking more about where you use each of these languages in the next section.

Should I Be Using JavaScript Or Java For My Next Project?

The answer depends on what you’re trying to build. JavaScript is still only a web technology, while Java is a general-purpose programming language that can create many types of applications.

Both of these languages can be used to develop all types of applications for web, mobile, desktop, and server-side. However, Java is more suited for enterprise applications as it has the robustness and performance required for business-critical functions. It is supported by many libraries for different functions like managing security so that you don’t have to build them from scratch.

While Java has a relatively steep learning curve, once you learn the language, all related frameworks become familiar automatically. Java is an exemplary language if you want to learn about Object-Oriented concepts. Learning these concepts along with the syntax of Java, makes it much easier to learn other programming languages, which you will eventually have to do.

Simply learning JavaScript will not be enough to do much more than developing dynamic websites. Creating applications with JavaScript requires learning many other technologies like JQuery, and at least one framework like React or Angular. These have their learning curve and syntax.

If you are a new programmer and trying to choose where to begin your programming career, then you should think of many things, such as job availability and salaries. Both Java and JavaScript have good career prospects, and with the level of integration they have with modern programming and the internet, they aren’t going away. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the US, average annual pay for Java programmers well above the average, at approximately $105,000. These figures consider many years of experience. In comparison, average figures for Web Developers with plain JavaScript knowledge average at $69,430.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is clear that these are very different languages, one is a general-purpose programming language, while the other is a scripting language used for HTML. You can do a lot of fancy stuff with JavaScript, but you’re still restricted without features like multithreading, as compared to Java.

Java is a great programming language to learn, but any new students should look at learning both these languages. JavaScript is still helpful even if you are developing an application using JavaScript.

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