Python vs JavaScript: Key Differences, Performance Comparison, and Areas of Application

The complexity of modern web applications goes far beyond creating attractive user interfaces with countless elements. To enable a lag-free experience and effortless scalability, it is important to pay close attention to the architecture design, which can be quite challenging. Under the hood of a comprehensive online application, different frameworks and libraries can peacefully coexist with different programming languages ​​used to create software. Since the equation can contain many variables, mastering your knowledge of each potential system component is essential to know when and why to use them.

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The complexity of modern web applications goes far beyond creating attractive user interfaces with countless elements. To enable a lag-free experience and effortless scalability, it is important to pay close attention to the architecture design, which can be quite challenging. Under the hood of a comprehensive online application, different frameworks and libraries can peacefully coexist with different programming languages ​​used to create software. Since the equation can contain many variables, mastering your knowledge of each potential system component is essential to know when and why to use them.

Currently, JavaScript and Python are attracting unprecedented attention. For example, in 2021, they accounted for the majority of pull requests on GitHub:

Tons of libraries allow for development flexibility, there’s no shortage of learning resources, and average JavaScript and Python developer salaries make you want to dive into the specifics of writing code as soon as possible. Today we will describe the main differences between them and learn in which areas their applications guarantee better results.

A brief introduction

Python and JavaScript were both invented in the 90s, so they have come a long way in development before taking their place on the pedestal. JavaScript, for example, first appeared in 1995. Back then, its main purpose was to add dynamic functionality to web pages that HTML and CSS could not provide. About a decade and a half later, Node.js emerged, marking a new era in JavaScript development. With its help, developers could use JavaScript for both front-end and back-end parts of the application.

Most often, JavaScript is described as an object-oriented language. But it is important to note that its possibilities are not limited to OOP. Moreover, it allows event-driven, functional and imperative paradigms. Developers who are not satisfied with the possibilities offered by this language can also create applications using TypeScript which is sometimes described as JavaScript with superpowers.

Read also Tips to get the most out of TypeScript

Python, in turn, is a bit older. This versatile language was developed by Guido van Rossum in 1991. One of the main advantages of Python is that it is very easy to learn and interpret. The code written with it is as easy to read as a book for those with some programming experience.

However, despite such simplicity, Python is not a “noob language” for people who have just started learning to code and want to move on to something more “serious” in the future. It supports functional, imperative, object-oriented, and procedural programming and is considered one of the best tools for data science. NumPy, Pandas, PyTorch, TensorFlow, and dozens of other frameworks and libraries can turn Python into a Swiss army knife when it comes to working with huge datasets and machine learning algorithms. Additionally, popular server-side Python frameworks such as Django, for example, make it a decent choice for any custom software development company with top-notch web applications.

Performance Comparison

Learning new technologies quickly and writing code in no time is a good thing without a doubt. But a fast pace of development does not necessarily mean that the final software system will work quickly. Especially when we talk about interpreted programming languages ​​since in this case the programs are not compiled in native code.

JavaScript relies on the V8 engine which enables exceptional performance. Thanks to the features of the engine, it supports Just-In-Time compilation, which in a nutshell means that the code can be compiled and optimized as the application runs. The code is interpreted in end-user browsers. That’s why you can face severe lags when visiting a website stuffed with tons of JavaScript, especially if you’re using an old computer. However, Node.js allows the use of server-side JavaScript, and its multi-threaded support further improves the overall picture. It is therefore an excellent choice for those who want to create a high-performance web application.

Python, on the other hand, cannot handle heavy applications with such ease. Remember how we considered Python to be one of the easiest programming languages ​​to read? Well, unfortunately, this luxury has its price. A high level of abstractions requires a longer interpretation time. Our language differs from those spoken by computers. Therefore, the easier the code is for a human to understand, the more difficult it is for a computer to interpret and execute it. Fortunately, there are Python implementations such as Jython and Cython whose main purpose is to increase overall performance, but despite their developers’ best efforts, they cannot compete with the V8 engine.

Application areas

The features of JavaScript and Python that we have mentioned do not give a strict answer which to use in a given situation. You can’t pick the language that has the easiest syntax to learn and use it to implement anything you can think of, from a complex web system to a video game. Well, probably you can, but it won’t be the most optimal way to do things. Each technology is initially designed to solve a specific set of tasks. In the case of programming languages, this leads to the development of libraries and frameworks that help solve these tasks. For this reason, before writing the code, you need to understand which languages ​​are best suited for which domains.

For example, Python takes on one of the leading roles in the world of machine learning. Getting a software system to learn from available data using complex algorithms is a difficult task in itself. Python’s easy-to-understand syntax helps avoid the added complexities associated with having to understand poorly readable code. As a result, developers can focus on experimentation and making changes as quickly as possible.

Since Python is an interpreted language, you can forget about compatibility issues and run code on different platforms effortlessly. Moreover, such comprehensive libraries like TensorFlow and Keras enable developers to improve their deep learning efficiency.

Data science is another example of where Python can be considered a “dominant force”. As already mentioned, Pandas and NumPy can help with data analysis and mathematical functions, while Matplotlib can take care of creating 2D graphs.

JavaScript also has the potential to be used in data science projects. It supports TensorFlow and D3.js, one of the richest libraries for data visualization. But, let’s be honest, we love it for a different reason. JavaScript is irreplaceable if you want to write politely front end code for high quality web applications. Just start googling “front end” and you’ll find countless references to React, Vue.js, Angular, and dozens of other hugely popular frameworks and libraries.

Read also Flutter vs React Native

Moreover, a web developer does not need to learn a new language to take care of the back-end part of the application since Node.js allows using JavaScript to write server-side code.

conclusion

Since both Python and JavaScript are quite popular, it’s quite natural for people to wonder where to spend their time. Unfortunately, comparing programming languages ​​is sometimes like comparing apples and a spring breeze. All are created to write code that makes computers follow your will. But modern technology is so versatile and software solutions perform such a variety of tasks that a specific language cannot cover all the needs an average developer faces in their career. This circumstance leads to the need, if not to perfect the knowledge of several programming languages, at least to fully understand the specifics of their application.

If you are looking for a team of experienced web developers who master both Python and JavaScript, contact us.

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