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Python vs JavaScript: What to Choose in 2021


The software development industry is dynamic and volatile. People who have been engaged in software development for at least a few years have seen a large pile of changes. Some technologies have entered the competition by storm and acquired popularity in a dramatically short period of time like Python, and some gone forever without much acknowledgment like Pascal. Therefore at the beginning of one’s career path, it’s of great importance to choose the language that is in demand, widely applied, and has an extensive community.

In today’s blog, we will cover the matters of Python vs JavaScript, the languages that are in some ways comparable but with significantly different use cases and syntax.


What is JavaScript?


JavaScript is one of the most popular scripting languages initially created to “make web pages more interactive”. When something more is happening on the web page than just its static display, for instance, animating 2D/3D graphics, interactive maps, or scrolling a video in a player, most likely it’s because JavaScript has been involved. It’s an object-oriented language whose functionality builds on top of what CSS and HTML provide.


What is Python?


Python is an object-oriented, general-purpose programming language that is gaining popularity at extremely high speed. The main principle behind Python is the readability and DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) concept. Python has an easy-to-learn syntax, therefore, reduces the expenses for program maintenance. It incorporates dynamic typing and binding and high-level data structures which makes it extremely useful for complex application development.


JS vs Python: Popularity


According to StackOverflow Developer Survey 2021, JavaScript has maintained its leadership as the most commonly used programming language for the eighth year in a row. Python holds fourth place in the list having beaten such technologies as Java, PHP, and C#.

The PYPL (Popularity of Programming Language index) as of May 2021, states that Python remains the most popular programming language, while JavaScript takes the third position. The index is based on the number of tutorials that are searched on Google. So, if you trust in collective judgment, the PYPL index can help you to choose which language to master or to take up for project development.


According to the TIOBE Programming Community index, Python has swapped positions with Java, and taken the second position. Though the difference between the languages is only 0,11% because of Python’s increasing popularity, it’s reasonable to assume that it will hold the position for a long period of time. JavaScript is placed in the seventh position.

As to the salary comparison, Indeed states that the average salary of a Python developer is $51 per hour in the US, while a JavaScript developer earns $48 correspondingly.

Another data provided by StackOverflow states that Python programmers earn approximately $116k annually, while JavaScript developers make around $110k.

JavaScript vs Python: Speed and Performance


The initial purpose of creating JavaScript was to make it fast on the web. Compared to Python, it’s a little bit faster since Node.js, for example, offers advanced multithreading while Python processes requests in a single flow. Apps that require real-time and dynamic interactions are more frequently built on JavaScript and the same can be told about website and ERP apps (as JS supports both domains). This means that applications like Facebook that generate big amounts of data in real-time are more likely to use JavaScript so as not to make their users wait.

On the other hand, Python is a perfect choice for CPU-intensive solutions such as a machine learning model that has to process large piles of data to solve a specific problem. Since it’s easy to code, it’s frequently used to develop large-sized applications, especially math-intensive projects. Though the Instagram server is more of an I/O than CPU-intensive situation, it still uses Python. This proves that Python can perform very quickly if you know how to optimize it correctly (with the help of NumPy or Cython, for example).


JavaScript vs Python: Learning Curve


Beginners are usually tempted to start with Python as it’s considered one of the most beginner-friendly languages, and there are a few reasons for that. First of all, code in Python is more readable compared to other languages and contains fewer lines. Secondly, it has fewer structural rules which significantly speeds up the development process. JavaScript is not that easy to learn and is quite difficult to debug. Though, if one is acquainted with C-like languages, it will be easier to learn JavaScript as its syntax is similar to the rules of these languages.

There is a massive amount of resources available on the Internet in both languages. If you want to take up Python, a good idea is to check Jose Portilla’s The Python 3 BootCamp that has almost one million graduates.


JS vs Python: Web and Mobile Development


As it has been mentioned above, web applications developed with JavaScript are faster and handle big amounts of data and code better while Python will take longer to respond. Thanks to Node.js which supports asynchronous programming, programmers can reach better scalability using JS. On the other hand, Python is more used on the server side. It’s important to mention that Python has a steady environment with the following frameworks: Pyramid, Flask, and Django, using which will improve the development.

Initially, Python was not designed to develop GUI apps though with the help of such frameworks as Kivy and BeeWare libraries, it’s possible to build native-looking mobile apps with Python. Though the primary purpose of JavaScript was the development and management of websites, it’s  also frequently used for mobile development. A big drawback of JS for mobile is that neither IOS nor Android run native apps written with it.



Final Thoughts


Summing up, both languages are very popular and offer a lot of job opportunities and high rates in the market. There are a lot of online courses and plenty of documentation to take up each of them. JavaScript strongly holds the position of the most powerful language for web and mobile development, while Python dominates in the machine learning field because of its capacity to manipulate data and strong readability. The choice between them also depends on your previous experience. If you want a quick start, Python is a better option. Though people with knowledge of C-like languages won’t find JavaScript a big challenge either.

Which language would you recommend for beginners? Share in the comments below.

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