Java vs C# Summary
Both Java and C# are object oriented, have garbage collection, and compiled. Java has a focus on WORA and cross-platform portability and it’s easier to learn. C# is used for everything Microsoft, and it’s harder to learn.
If you are new to coding, it’s astonishingly easy to feel overwhelmed. Advice on the web bombards beginners with mixed messages on various programming languages, frameworks, and environments. Sometimes it almost feels like a battleground.
The world of software development is a competitive playground for top programmers to continually build on past or outdated source code; making the code more streamlined for specific tasks. A fine example of this phenomenon is that of Java vs C# (pronounced C-sharp). These languages illustrate a competitive battle between two companies that created rival and equally formidable coding languages.
Regardless of their history, Java and C# are on equal footing in their fame. So which one is better to learn first? How can you, as a blossoming programmer, make an informed decision about what language to embark upon?
Let’s begin first by breaking down each language.
What is Java?
Produced in 1991, the Java platform was originally meant for interactive cable television. Since this occurred during the time of chunky boxed TVs, creator James Gosling soon recognized that TV companies were not advanced enough to utilize Java. In case you were curious, Gosling’s language was formerly named Oak, then Green, before successfully stopping at Java, which sounds much catchier than its nature-inspired predecessors.
James Gosling worked for the computer software company Sun Microsystems (later acquired by Oracle), which initially released Java in 1995 under proprietary licensure. In other words, Java was closed-source, preventing the public from improving or utilizing it for free. It wouldn’t become open-sourced until its 2003 update. In 2019, Java is now one of the most typically practiced languages among programmers.
Advantages of Java
The Java programming language was made with a “work once, run anywhere” ideology, or WORA. With its general-purpose feature, Java can be implemented on any platform. Because it’s cross platform, it takes time out of porting or rewriting code—this gives Java development an advantage in user-experience.
Designed from a base of C/C++ syntax, Java also acquires object-oriented qualities like inheritance: which is just another word for reusing code for better productivity. It also makes solving problems easier, while remaining flexible. Object-oriented programming comes with a lot of advantages, like encapsulation, which takes the guesswork out of troubleshooting. If you run into an issue, you just have to look at the class or object to figure out the solution.
What is C#?
Microsoft programmer Anders Hejlsberg created C# specifically to rival Java. Initially, Microsoft requested to make alterations to Java, but at the refusal of Sun Microsystems, they decided to create a programming language to suit their own needs. C# combines the best parts of C and C++ with the simplicity of Microsoft’s older Visual Basic language. Tailoring C# to develop Microsoft applications, as well as creating the Windows framework .NET, allowing for efficiency. Today, C# is the 4th most popular programming language.
C# is general-purpose—despite being streamlined for Windows desktop applications, programmers can still use C# on other platforms. The intensive support from Microsoft has allowed for its fast growth. In addition to web and mobile applications, C# is prominent in the game development industry. C# is implemented using the Unity game engine, with which a third of the most popular games are created. Interestingly, Samsung Virtual Reality game gear uses Unity.
Main Differences Between Java vs C#:
As rivals, C# and Java are practically imitations. The design of both is inspired by C and C++, so they share certain aspects of the syntax. Since C++ is general-purpose and object-oriented, Java and C# share these features.
Garbage collection is a key benefit; both Java and C# remove any unnecessary low-level programming tasks. They both also “generate an intermediate language code after compilation” with Java compiler generating Java byte code and C# generating MSIL, or Microsoft Intermediate Language.
Java vs C#: Performance
When Sun programmers created Java, they aimed to meet five main principles, one of which was high performance. Does Java deliver on this principle?
The answer is yes—Java is remarkably fast, at the expense of lots of memory usage, because it’s compiled. Meaning it generates Java Virtual Machine (JVM) byte code, a machine learning language that only the system can read.
Java vs C#: Ease of Learning
Despite language similarity, Java is up there with some of the easiest-to-learn programming languages. Java has fewer components than C# because of its WORA policy—one code can operate on any operating system (Windows, Linux, OS). C# is heavily tailored to Microsoft, and to run on other systems, programmers must alter the code, which can be cumbersome.
On the other hand, C# allows programmers to write more efficiently due to its structs, as opposed to heap objects.
Structs are value types, which contain a set of variables (Structs for a user-defined value of “Student” under which variables like name, major, age, etc. Contrastingly, objects, which are contained in a class, establish a method (i.e. Class(student), under which certain actions are attributed to that class of students).
All you need to know is that structs run faster than heap objects because they have access to the processor cache. That’s where efficiency comes in; you can just reuse pre-written structs, resulting in writing less code.
Java vs C#: Versatility
Java is used mainly for complicated applications, usually on the Java Runtime Environment. Programmers usually use Java for Android applications. If you’re unsure as to what sorts of programs you want to do, Java is a clever choice, as it’s just as in-demand as C# and opens numerous doors.
The C# language, while not as versatile as Java, allows for more extensions than Java. C# isn’t optimized for web development, but it can definitely work in with other codes to do so. C#’s specialization in Microsoft applications and game development makes it highly advanced if your career goals aim that way.
Should You Learn Java or C#?
Comparing two languages that trek different roads can be complicated. Although Java and C# were born out of “rivalry,” choosing to learn one over the other depends on various factors. Here’s a quick summary to help you out.
If game development strikes your fancy, consider C#. It is one of the top gaming languages, after all. You can also learn it for phone or web applications, as the .NET framework is robust. However, C# is a better fit for more experienced programmers.
If you’re a beginner in programming, I would recommend learning Java. The general-use characteristic makes it a more realistic, worthwhile investment, just in case you want to keep your options open. Java is also immensely popular, about 10% more commonly used than C#, based on early 2019 data.
Either way, both are fantastic, and there is still a deep well of programming possibilities to explore with either.