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The Difference Between JavaScript and Java: A Comparison

Java and JavaScript may sound similar, but they're very different. There's a massive difference between JavaScript and Java, from their programming approaches to extensions and security features. Read on to learn all about it!
Daniel Zacharias

Code Power Team

January 26, 2024

We witness “riding the wave” of trends more often than we realize. Think about the FitTech and Fintech industries, which use “tech” in their names to leverage the current trend of merging technology and everyday life.

But what does this have to do with the difference between JavaScript and Java?

Well, “riding the wave” of popularity is precisely what the creators of JavaScript did in the ’90s when they first introduced their language. At the time, “Java” was a trendy term in the coding industry. So, they took a marketing decision to leverage it and branded their technology as JavaScript. 

Therefore, just like FitTech and Fintech both employ technology for various purposes ― JavaScript and Java are programming languages with very different syntaxes and applications.

What is the difference between JavaScript and Java?

We can confidently say that JavaScript and Java similarities end in their names. Speaking of their names, let’s dig a little deeper into their histories to help clear things up.

Sun Microsystems released Java in May 1995, primarily targeting server-side programming. In the same year, Netscape released JavaScript in December under the name Mocha *it looks like developers really love coffee*. This language was designed to be embedded within HTML code, allowing for website interactivity.

And, as often happens in the tech world ― the swift rise of certain technologies leads to strategic partnerships. So, in response to Internet Explorer’s growing popularity at the time, Netscape and Sun Microsystems forged a collaboration. As part of this agreement, Sun Microsystems got the opportunity to run Java apps in web browsers, and, in exchange, Netscape changed Mocha’s name to JavaScript, riding the wave of association with popular Java.

With that said, let’s look at what these languages are now.

What is Java?

Java is an object-oriented, cross-platform programming language. It’s widely in use for the development of various programs such as web solutions, mobile apps, large-scale enterprise projects, etc. Furthermore, Java provides engineers with a comprehensive set of tools, including a compiler, execution engine, and libraries, making it a robust and valuable resource for coding.

Java features

  • Simple: Java’s syntax is clean and based on C and C++, making it familiar to engineers who code in these languages. Additionally, Java eliminated complicated features, e.g. explicit pointers, to simplify the development process further.
  • Platform-independent: Java offers the flexibility to code on any computer system, regardless of its configuration. And you can run Java apps on any machine, platform, or operating system.
  • Object-oriented: As an object-oriented language, Java supports features that enable you to create reusable code and modular solutions. The OOP approach also allows for easy troubleshooting and many other advantages that accelerate development.
  • Secure: This is one of Java’s most prominent characteristics. The language has robust in-built security features like Encryption, authentication, cryptography, and more to help you build safe and reliable systems.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a scripting programming language that adds interactivity to web pages and apps. It’s also an excellent option for game development and mobile app creation. Additionally, JavaScript can run in the web browser without any additional resources. Thus, it’s no surprise that 98.7% of all websites employ this technology as a client-side programming language.

JavaScript features

  • Lightweight: JavaScript code converts to bytecode just before execution, enabling it to run on even less powerful systems. Furthermore, the language features minimalistic, superficial characteristics that execute easily and prevent excessive loads.
  • Prototype-based: Unlike other languages, JavaScript creates more objects of the same type by defining the “object’s prototype”. This method enables flexibility in defining object behavior and allows for code reuse.
  • Platform-independent: JavaScript is platform-independent (just like Java). Its code can flawlessly operate in any browser and on any platform.
  • Validations: JavaScript’s validation processes assist users in filling website forms correctly with valid information. This prevents the submission of incomplete or incorrect data, minimizing the possibility of errors later on.

Java vs. JavaScript: a comparison

Now, we can see how the two technologies differ. Let’s outline those mentioned above and some additional features to further examine Java vs Javascript differences.

Language type: Java is an Object-oriented programming language. On the other hand, JavaScript is an object-based scripting language that supports multiple programming paradigms, including procedural and functional programming techniques.

Memory usage: Java occupies (and thus requires) more memory than JavaScript.

Object type: In Java, you can create objects only with classes. However, in JavaScript, you build objects with prototypes.

Source code visibility: Java keeps its source code hidden as byte code. In contrast, JavaScript runs code in plain text, making it visible in browsers to everyone.

Security features: This is another significant difference between JavaScript and Java. Java prioritizes source code security and comes with sophisticated features to support it. On the other hand, JavaScript requires implementing additional functions for enhanced security.

Extension: The file extension for Java is “.java”, while for JavaScript, it’s “.js”.

Concurrency capabilities: Java uses multithreading with a thread-based approach, while JavaScript follows an event-driven approach. Therefore, Java supports several threads running concurrently, whereas JavaScript’s code execution is event-triggered.

Note: JavaScript can simulate concurrency with web workers (features that enable simultaneous execution of code), allowing for concurrent execution in certain circumstances.

Java vs JavaScript: which one to use for your next project?

Congrats! You’ve come to the end of our comparison! By now, you likely have a clear answer to the question, “What is the difference between Java and JavaScript”. And you understand that, since these two are genuinely different languages, each is suitable for specific use cases.

Thus, Java is a secure, server-side technology that offers extensive libraries and helps you build potent mobile and web apps. Another star in our story, JavaScript, is a popular scripting language that dominates the internet by adding interactivity and dynamic features to websites. Therefore, despite adding “Java” to its name to increase popularity initially, it has worked its way to the top in the modern days!

So, carefully consider your project and solve the Java vs JavaScript dilemma by opting for the one that best suits your project’s demands and goals. Whatever your decision, I’m confident it will help you create powerful, successful solutions!

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