Java is touted as the most widely used programming language in history. Developed by Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle in 2020), the first version of Java was released in 1995. Based on the principle of WORA (Write Once, Run Anywhere), Java was developed with the idea to write an application code that once compiled, can run on any device. Since then, Java has not looked back. It has been widely used for developing, desktop, web, cloud, and mobile applications.

Python made its entry on the horizon of the programming world in 1991. Designed by  Guido van Rossum, the Python programming language was developed by Python Software Foundation. Python was developed as a beginner-friendly, simple-to-use programming language for beginners.

Though Java has been ruling the programming community for the last 25 years, the time has come that programmers embrace Python as the go-to-programming language. Google trends show that in mid-2019, Python surpassed Java in terms of search interests worldwide as depicted by the following graphic.

Google Trends
Screenshot from trends.google.com

The popularity of Python as the preferred programming language lately, can be attributed to various reasons. Some of them are enlisted below:

Table of Contents

  1. Simple Syntax
  2. Dynamic Typing
  3. Interpreted Language
  4. The advent of Big Data and Machine Learning
  5. High Computational Resources
  6. Huge Developer Community
  7. Multipurpose
  8. Supported by Tech Giants
  9. Salary and Career Growth

1. Simple Syntax

Python has an extremely simple syntax compared to most of the other programming languages. With Python, you do not even need brackets to define a code block. A simple indentation will do the job. Owing to its simplicity, Python is one of the easiest languages to learn. On the other, there are lots of constraints to write syntactically correct Java code. To perform a particular task, you may need to write twice as much code in Java compared to Python.

2. Dynamic Typing

Python is a dynamically typed language, which means that you do not have to specify the data types while writing your code. Data types are interpreted at runtime. Java on the other hand is a strongly typed language where you have to specify the data type in advance. The dynamic nature of data types often results in increased efficiency where developers focus more on logic than worrying about type matching.

3. Interpreted Language

Python is an interpreted language which means that unlike Java where you first have to compile the program according to the underlying device, Python script is interpreted at runtime by an interpreter. This enhances rapid prototyping in Python. Furthermore, the code written in Python is cross-platform without even being compiled according to the underlying machine. Interpreted languages such as Python are also easier to debug since it is easier to extract source code information at runtime. Finally, interpreted languages foster better memory management compared to compiled languages.

4. The advent of Big Data and Machine Learning

The advent of big data and machine learning has proven to be the key reason for programmers flocking to Python. Python consists of myriads of packages such as Matplotlib, NumPy, TensorFlow, Pytorch, Pandas, and so on that can be used to perform different types of machine learning and data science tasks such as data visualization, data classification, and deep learning. Though, Java also contains machine learning and data science libraries such as DL4J, Mahout, Rapid Miner, and Java ML, etc, the number of Java-based libraries is limited with even lesser community support.

5. High Computational Resources

Python was released before Java and is easier to learn. However, Java still ruled the programming world for good two decades. The main reason is the execution speed of a Python program which is slower compared to Java. Moreover, to efficiently run Python programs, high computational resources were required which were not available a decade ago. Hence, the simplicity of Python was not fully utilized. However, with the advent of advance and high-performance computing resources, the time has come to leverage all that Python has to offer.

6. Huge Developer Community

If you have to base your decision on community support for a programming language, there is no difference between Java and Python. Both the programming languages are pretty much mature with huge developer support. However, with a growing interest in Python, the balance is tilting towards Python. This is evident from the Stackoverflow developer survey of 2020 which ranked Python as the first most wanted language, and the 3rd most loved language. On the contrary, Java ranks 7th in the list of most wanted languages while it ranked 17th in the list of most loved languages. The stats show that Python’s developer community is going to see a huge increase in numbers in near future.

7. Multipurpose

Python is a multi-purpose language, it is a swiss-army-knife that you can use for pretty much everything. With Python, you can develop mobile applications, desktop applications, web applications, perform data visualizations, and data science tasks. Even academia is switching from Matlab to Python for research tasks. Java, on the other hand, is also a multi-purpose language, however, its use cases are limited compared to Python. Particularly, Java is not as widely used in academia, when compared to Python.

8. Supported by Tech Giants

A study conducted by Coding Dojo, shows that among the top 25 tech companies with revenue of more than 1 billion, Python is the most popular programming language which is used by 20 companies. On the other hand, Java is being used by 19 companies. Though the difference is not too high, the fact that almost 80% of the top IT companies use Python is a testament to the popularity and bright future prospects of Python.

9. Salary and Career Growth

According to Job search site indeed.com, the average yearly base salary of Python developers in the USA is 111,556. On the other hand, the average salary of Java developers is 103,612. Furthermore, Python has seen a growth of 15% on average over the past 4 years. This number is 11% in the case of Java. With a huge developer community, availability of high computational resources, and support of tech giants, Python has a bright future ahead. In terms of career growth, Python should be one of the top priorities of every programmer.

Conclusion

Apart from all the other advantages, it is always beneficial to command multiple programming languages. Therefore, if you are a Java programmer, who is looking forward to learning a new language, now is the right time to learn Python. Having a grasp of both Java and Python allows you to exploit the speed and efficiency of Java, and the versatility and simplicity of Python.