When faced with so many potential ways of getting started in programming, it can be hard to decide the best direction for you to go in. Unless you are really interested in learning a niche language, however, you’re almost always better off picking a more popular programming language. This is because a popular language is more likely to have been adapted to whatever specific projects you want to build. So there’ll be more tutorials, more books, and more people available to answer the inevitable questions you have.
Python, Java, and C++ are three of the most popular and widely used programming languages in the world. Between them, there’s almost nothing you can’t build. Here we’re going to discuss Python, Java, and C++, how they’re similar, how they’re different, and what they’re best suited for.
What Is Python (and How Is it Unique?)
Python is an exceptionally widespread language that has been adapted for almost everything. I do most of my professional coding in Python, and I am routinely amazed at how many third party libraries are available for it. No matter how trivial the task, someone has probably created a free tool for making it easier to do.
Of the three languages, Python is probably the easiest to learn. It’s a classic high-level language, meaning its syntax tends to be more readable than anything written in a low-level language, even for a total beginner. This is great if you’ve never written code before and just want some beginner-level programming with a gentle learning curve.
But Python is also exceptionally powerful. There’s no way it could be used for scientific computing, high-end graphics, or artificial intelligence without packing a serious punch.
What Is Java (and How Is it Unique?)
It’s often claimed that Java is the most widespread programming language of all time. Having been released in 1996, it’s also one of the languages with the longest time in use. What this means for someone new to the language is that you can expect many of the kinks have been worked out long ago, leaving you a stable tool to work with.
Java is famously platform-independent. Its code doesn’t rely on any underlying architecture, which has no doubt contributed a great deal to Java’s flexibility and extensibility.
Like Python, Java is object-oriented, which can make writing maintainable code much easier. Also, Java supports automatic garbage collection and memory management, reducing the number of things the programmer has to handle directly.
What Is C++ (and How Is it Unique?)
C++ is a member of the C programming language family. Like Python and Java, C++ is a fast, efficient, object-oriented language with a wide variety of use cases.
Perhaps the single biggest drawback to using C++ is that it isn’t as portable as Python or Java. Code written in C++ has to be re-compiled for every platform it’s deployed on, making it harder to write truly adaptive applications.
As a mid-level language, however, C++ has many libraries for more directly handling hardware-level tasks. This means that, depending on the specifics of your project, it could be much better for anything that requires a high degree of hardware optimization, like graphics programming.
Choosing between C++ vs Python vs Java for your project really depends on what your experience and long-term goals are. All three are powerful, robust languages that will likely have what you need to get the job done!