When you think of language, you most likely think of words, talking to a friend, or cultures across the world. Languages follow sets of rules dictating how to write, how to speak, and the definition of words. Computer languages, while they may seem abstract from the words you’re reading right now, are no different.
Just like how you would use words to argue a logical point, paint a picture, or create an idea when talking to a friend, you use programming languages to talk in a computer’s native language of 1’s and 0’s. We use programming languages to tell computers how to translate concepts and ideas into a working computer program.
Once you’ve made the decision to jump into the coding world yourself, you’ll soon face a number of decisions. You will need to make sure your computer is a good fit for the job, find a text editor that suits your style, and narrow down which programming language you want to use.
As you research computer languages you’ll come across two of the most common options:
Java. Let’s take a look at these two and draw a few comparisons to see if one might be the perfect fit for you.
What is C++?
The possibilities of C++
In order to understand
C++, you must first understand its origins.
C++ was developed by Danish computer scientist Bjarne Stroustrup as an extension of the C programming language. At the time of its creation, the C language was on the cutting edge of technology, operating on the Unix OS as one of the premier languages available in 1972. With its top-down approach, C became the backbone for many of the operating systems, embedded programs, and compilers we use today. So then, why did Bjarne decide to create
What it came down to was preference. C is a top-down, procedural language with a very logistical approach. Bjarne used C to get his PhD, but realized he would find an object-oriented language easier, and in 1983 he decided to make one himself.
C++ was known as
C with Classes with inspiration from Simula’s object-oriented, but rather slow, approach. Bjarne created
C++ as a superset of C.
C++ is an object-oriented, bottom-up programming language known for its high speed.
It has more powerful features than C, such as higher levels of security, multifunctional modules, and, of course, classes.
C++ is not based on any particular OS and is a versatile programming language used for an incredibly wide range of programs from AAA games to banking systems.
What is Java?
Coding with Java
Java was developed by Sun Microsystems in 1995, and it was actually designed with
C++ users in mind. The developers knew that the familiar syntax would appeal to coders and programmers of the 90s, since
C++ was the leading language at the time.
Java is object-oriented and class based.
Java is used for many different purposes like games, programs, and mobile phones (Java is the primary language for Andriod apps). It’s also become one of the primary backbones of the Internet. There are even mini Java programs (referred to as
applets) that web developers can use to enhance user experience on a website.
Java is the most popular on the internet’s back end. What this means is
Java is most used for the more functional qualities of web pages that run on the server, rather than your browser.
The Major Differences between Java and C++
Going head to head
From the outside, it would seem that
C++ are languages similar enough that they should be nearly interchangeable. However,
C++ are quite different, and you should think critically about which language to learn based on what you hope to achieve with it. Are you here to design games or interactive websites? Do you want to build systems or applications for systems? Let’s take a look between the two languages and see if we can’t draw a line between the two.
C++ is platform dependent, meaning the code must be compiled on every platform.
Java is platform independent, meaning you can (usually) compile
Java once and then execute it on any platform. What does this mean for you? The difference is the versatility of the languages. If your program will need to function on more than one operating system,
Java is usually the right choice. If you need something that is fast but only runs on one operating system,
C++ might be a better choice.
C++ is considered a mid-level language, while
Java is a high-level language.
Java is more abstracted from computer code (ones and zeros), and
C++ is less abstracted from computer code. This essentially means that
C++ has less built-in features, and it often takes more work to get the same job done with
C++ when compared with
Error detection in code is one of the most tedious actions of coding. When coding with
C++, it is up to you to find all of the errors and ensure that the code runs properly when compiled.
Java, however, has system controlled error detection. Meaning, as you compile your program, the program will alert you to possible mistakes in your code that you can fix.
Another important difference between
C++ is the ability to utilize unions. Unions allow coders to store different pieces of information in the same memory location at different times. This allows for a more efficient method of using variables and helps the code reference information and functions more efficiently. Like C,
C++ utilizes unions.
Java, however, does not.
C++ has fewer automatic features when compared to Java, and it has more control over low-level functions like unions and pointers,
C++ can be used to create much more efficient programs than
Java. However, today the performance gap is rarely an issue when selecting a language, except where speed and efficiency are vital, like on embedded flight systems or online video games.
C++ supports pointers, areas in code that store a memory address. You can use this function to reference previous actions or numbers later on in your code. Java has limited support for pointers, making it slightly less versatile for efficiently creating larger projects.
Which Language Should You Use?
Taking notes and making the decision
Java is a great language to learn if you’re interested in developing for the back end. It may not be the best for long extensive programs, as its memory storage and organization don’t really allow coders to condense their information, however, the in-system error detector makes the troubleshooting process far easier than if you were to do it all manually.
If your goal is to create a detailed program for running complex functions,
C++ is your best option. The unions and pointers supported by
C++ allow for efficient memory references that you can learn to utilize in order to maximize your time.
Choosing which language you want to learn will depend on your goals as a programmer. If you’re looking to start working on the back end, Java might be a good place to start. If you want a high level of control and to work on almost everything,
C++ is also a good choice.