Python vs. JavaScript: The 11 Major Differences

Software development arena is moving at a fast pace and has reached an advanced stage today. Among other programming languages, Python and JavaScript have been making significant contributions since decades. They are considered as the most popular and widely used languages today.

Stack Overflow which is a question-answering platform for software professionals and developers surveys more than 100,000 software developers annually to find out the programming trends, job opportunities, and challenges. In a survey in 2018, they found out that Python was the most popular programming language among the developer community and 25.1% developers wanted to learn it and increase their programming skills.

While, JavaScript ranked second after Python with a 19% popularity rate. In the past few years, it is reported by many studies and software developers that Python and JavaScript were the most rapidly growing languages. These languages are particularly prevalent among young developers and tech startups due the best features they are providing especially in data science.

Being a developer, it is very difficult to decide which one to leave and the other one to choose, because both provide the best of programming features. Hence, this brings up the topic: “Python Vs JavaScript: The Major 11 Differences”. In this article, we will briefly discuss the 10 differences between Python and JavaScript so that it may help you in deciding which one to choose for learning, practicing, and earning.

Python and JavaScript have many features in common, however, there are some significant differences. Before discussing their differences, let’s start their brief introduction so that you may easily understand them.

Table of Contents

You can skip to a specific section of this Python vs. JavaScript analysis using the table of contents below:

Python Overview

Python is a high-level object-oriented programming language. It allows developers to use built-in data structures, combined with dynamic binding and typing. It is a scripting language like Perl, PHP, Ruby, and many more that allows you to create desktop and web applications.

Python ranks second after R in one of the widely used programming languages used in data science and statistical analysis. It’s an open source language providing optimized features for code readability, programmer productivity, and software quality. It allows developers to create a variety of programs ranging from simple to complex programs.

JavaScript Overview

JavaScript is a scripting language and like other languages of this genre it supports the purpose of making programming easier by automating websites and app features. It also supports object-oriented capabilities and is considered as one of the core web technologies. JavaScript typically provides dynamic functionalities in webpages that can’t be achieved just using HTML or CSS, and you’d have to execute on your own, each time.

However, with the emergence of Node.js in 2009 which serves as a backend language, the popularity of JavaScript increased as now developers could use JavaScript for both front-end and server-side development.

Python vs. JavaScript - Which Language is Better?

There is no direct and easy answer to this question as both languages are very popular due to their powerful features. However, what you could do is to understand their strengths and weaknesses to identify which one suits you the best and fulfills your purpose.

In the later part of this article, we will be discussing major 10 differences in these languages so that you could easily understand their differences and we’re sure that it will help you in your decision.

1. Learnability

Learnability refers to the ease of learning and it is very important when you are learning a new programming language even with no prior programming experience. You need to go with a programming language that is user-friendly and easy to learn with minimum effort and spending a minimum time (one having a shorter learning curve). From this perspective, Python has a short learning curve and you could learn it in a few months as it is designed as a beginner-friendly language providing more simple functions and variables.

On the other hand, the learning curve of JavaScript is a little steeper than other fundamental front-end languages such as HTML and CSS etc. It could take from months up to a year to master. It has some complexities in it such as class definitions. So, from a learning perspective, Python is the better choice.

2. Scalability

Scalability is an important feature of any programming language when it comes to developing applications. It is measured by two parameters: i) the ability to support a large number of users, and ii) its capacity of process number of transactions and data with a minimal server utilization.

Node.js provides the feature of handling asynchronous programming while Python does not support asynchronous programming. So, in terms of scalability, JavaScript ranks better than Python.

3. Data Science – Python or JavaScript?

Data science has been a hot area in software or web development since many years which allows developers to analyze, manipulate raw or structured data, and to draw some inference based on that data. JavaScript is a very powerful programming language; however, it does mean that it would be best for performing all kinds of operations. Data scientists usually take the leverage of using different programming languages together and Python is one of them.

Although JavaScript can perform data science tasks, however, data scientists usually do prefer developing applications in Python due to its prevailing features for data science. Python was not originally designed for solving data science problems, but today it is one of the best languages for data science, machine learning, and predictive analytics etc.

Here we are analyzing why Python is preferred over JavaScript in data science.

  • Python provides a wide range of built-in frameworks and libraries facilitating the developers with thousands of useful power functions. These frameworks and libraries do not only help developers in utilizing a wide range of functionalities but also it saves their time of writing custom functions.
  • Some of the essential Python libraries that you should know for data science are Numpy, Pandas, Matplotlib, Learn, and Scipy etc. JavaScript, on the other hand, does not offer such statistical features and it is very difficult to perform such operations in it.
  • JavaScript, being a scripting language, was not originally designed for performing data science tasks, so it does not perform these tasks efficiently and it take much more time to process data science algorithms which require a lot of processing. On the other hand, Python performs huge and complex data science algorithms in a minimal execution time.

Visualizing data through different appealing charts or graphs is one of the core activities in data science. Python provides a list of libraries that allows you to create very appealing visualizations. Some of the top visualization libraries of Python include Matplotlib, Plotly, Seaborn, gplot, and Altair etc.

4. Inheritance

Like other object-oriented languages, Python also supports inheritance and multiple inheritance as well. Inheritance allows base classes (child classes) to inherit objects and behavior from parent class (parent class). It uses a class-based inheritance model.

Whereas, JavaScript uses a prototype-based inheritance model which is one of the parameters that increases its complexity. In this approach, all the objects inherit methods and properties from a prototype.

5. Function Arguments

If we talk about function parameters in both languages, we can also see a difference here. If a function is incorrectly called or provides a wrong number of parameters in Python, an exception with a custom message occurs at the time of function execution. This indicates that the developer doesn’t know the actual number of parameters until functioning calling.

While, JavaScript allows for a random and infinite number of arguments which can be accessed by an argument object. JavaScript also allows for correct and incorrect arguments. If a variable points to no object, then it is declared as undefined.

6. Mutability

Python contains mutable and immutable data types. Mutability allows change in content or state of an object after it is being created whereas immutable objects cannot modify their state after their creation. Examples of some mutable objects are set, list, and dict are whereas objects like int, tuple, bool, Unicode are immutable. JavaScript, on the other hand, only allows objects and arrays to be mutable.

7. Need or an interpreter

An interpreter is a program that directly interprets and executes a code written in a programming or scripting language without converting it into machine code. Like other high-level programming languages, Python also requires an interpreter to execute a code, while JavaScript does not require an interpreter for executing its code. It just requires an internet browser to execute code written in JavaScript.

8. Programming Paradigms Support

Both python and JavaScript support multi-paradigm programming approaches i.e. they provide programming support for more than one programming approach. Both languages provide functional, object-oriented, and imperative approaches for programming, however, Python also supports procedural programming approach. JavaScript, on the contrary, doesn’t support procedural programming.

9. Modules and libraries

Python comes with several modules for programmers that’s why it is called “batteries-included programming language”. As discussed earlier, it provides a wide list of built-in libraries for performing data science, data analytics, and machine learning tasks, etc.

While JavaScript offers a few limited modules such as data, math and JSON and additional functionality of JavaScript could be achieved through a host environment e.g. a web browser.

10. Hash Tables

Python provides built-in hash tables called dictionaries or sets, while JavaScript does not offer any such functionality of supporting hash tables.

11. Numeric Data Types

Python allows developers to use multiple numeric data types such as int, float, and decimal point, etc. whereas JavaScript only allows to use floating numeric datatype.

Final Thoughts

In this article, I discussed the major factors that play into the Python vs. JavaScript debate.

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Written on June 23, 2020