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Java and C++

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C++ vs Java: Basic Comparison, Key Differences, & Similarities

Posted in Java, C++

C++ and Java are among the big names in the world of programming. These two computer programming languages are very popular because of their wide applications.

Learning C++ and Java will give you a foundational understanding of programming. So anyone who is new to programming is generally recommended to learn any or both of these languages before moving on to other languages and technologies. This is the reason why schools and colleges that teach programming have C++ and/or Java as mandatory subjects so that the students can get a good idea of what programming is.

C++ vs Java

This articles gives you a basic comparison between C++ and Java and then talks about the big differences and some noticeable similarities between them.

Language overview

Developed by Bjarne Stroustrup, C++ is an object-oriented, multi-paradigm, functional, imperative, procedural, and a general-purpose computer programming language. Basically, it’s an extension of the C language. It was also known as C with classes. Besides the OOP features, it has all the features of the C language.

Besides giving you high-level features, this language also allows you to perform low-level memory manipulation.

Developed by Oracle, Java is an object-oriented programming language with all the high-level features. James Gosling from Sun Microsystems originally developed this language. Later, Oracle acquired this company in 2010.

This OOP language is also a general-purpose language and it’s a class-based, imperative, generic, multi-paradigm, and reflective computer language. Compared to C++, it does not give you much freedom to perform low-level memory manipulation.

Ease of use and development speed

For both the languages, there’s a large variety of libraries, frameworks, SDKs, and other tools available which can make your programming work a lot easier and can significantly speed up the development process. So using these tools, you can quickly build high-quality applications.

Some general-purpose C++ libraries and frameworks are Boost, BDE, Folly, JUCE, Ultimate++, Loki, CommonPP, APR, ASL, Cinder, Dlib, ETL, GLib, uSTL, Windows Template Library, STLport, MiLi, etc. The standard C++ libraries are C++ Standard Library, Standard Template Library, The GNU C library, ISO C++ Standards Committee, and C POSIX library.

Some useful C++ libraries for audio are FMOD, OpenAL, SoLoud, Tonic, KFR, Maximilian, Opus, etc. Some good C++ libraries for compression are Brotli, bzip2, miniz, Minizip, smaz, Snappy, ZLib, KArchive, and so on.

Some great C++ libraries for AI operation are Genann, Kaldi, Veles, MXNet, TensorFlow, Evolving Objects, etc. Some great C++ GUI libraries and frameworks are FLTK, GTK+, Qt, wxWidgets, GacUI, MyGUI, Yue, etc.

A long list of C++ libraries and frameworks can be found here. This page also has a great list of C++ libraries and frameworks.

There are also a great number of Java libraries and frameworks that enable faster app development which can make your programming work easier.

Some notable Java frameworks are Blade, Dropwizard, GWT, JHipster, Grails, Hibernate, JavaServer Faces, MyBatis, Play, PrimeFaces, Spring Framework, Tapestry, Vaadin, Wicket, etc.

More Java frameworks along with their description can be found here.


Real-life uses

C++ and Java are general-purpose programming languages, meaning you can build almost any type of software applications for almost any platforms using the right tools, IDEs, libraries, and frameworks of these languages.

C++ is used for building operating systems, desktop apps, web browsers, rendering engines of web browsers, machine learning libraries, applications that involve heavy graphical processing, databases, embedded systems, mobile apps, and so on.

C++ is also used in many other areas such as Internet of Things, automation, set-top-box, and automotive.

On the other hand, Java is used for building app servers, web apps, mobile apps, desktop apps, unit tests, enterprise applications, games, cloud applications, web APIs, and so on.

Java is also used in fields such as Internet of Things, self-driving cars, and data analysis.

Great companies such as Adobe, Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Autodesk, Bloomberg, Facebook, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Mozilla are using C++.

Some popular C++ applications are Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, InDesign, Maya, Chrome, Java VM core, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows NT, Windows 9x, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Visual Studio, Mozilla Firefox, and so on.

Some popular Java applications are JPC, ThinkFree, NASA World Wind, Tommy Jr, Blu-ray BD-J, UltraMixer, Project Looking Glass, Sun SPOT, Eclipse, Netbeans IDE, and so on.

Hello-world program

A C++ hello-world program is as follows:

using namespace std;
int main()
cout << “Hello, World!”;
return 0;

A Java hello-world program can be written as follows:

public class SimpleProgram
public static void main(String [] args)
System.out.println(“Hello, World!”);


C++ is a compiled language while Java is interpreted and/or compiled.

Cross-platform apps

A C++ program compiled on an operating system will not run on a different operating system. You need to recompile the program for the different operating system in order for it to run. On the contrary, a Java program will run on any platform where JVM is installed, recompilation is not required.

Memory safety

C++ is not a memory-safe language. You can perform memory management, which is a great advantage. But memory errors may occur and serious issues like crashes may take place at the time of the program’s execution. On the other hand, Java doesn’t allow memory manipulation, it’s system controlled. So this kind of issues will not appear. Java is a memory-safe language.


C++ has full pointer support. Java has a limited pointer support.


C++ doesn’t support threads but Java does.


C++ programs are generally faster as they do not need to be interpreted. On the other hand, Java programs are not that much fast as they need to be interpreted first and it takes time. But keep in mind that JVM automatically optimizes your code. This increases the program performance. So a Java program can run faster than a C++ program if the C++ program is not optimized for performance. But if it’s greatly optimized for performance, it will be a lot faster than Java code.

Closeness to the hardware

When compared to Java, C++ is a low-level language, it’s closer to the hardware. Java is not close to the hardware.

Scope resolution operators

C++ supports scope resolution operators whereas Java doesn’t have these operators.

Default arguments

You can have default arguments in C++ when there’s no such thing in Java.

‘Go to’ statement

You can use ‘go to’ statements in C++ programs, although they are not recommended. Java doesn’t have ‘go to’ statements.


C++ supports destructors while Java does not.


Multiple inheritance is supported in C++ while Java doesn’t have this kind of inheritance.

Runtime error checking

The programmer needs to check for runtime error in C++ while in Java, runtime error checking is performed automatically by the system.

Operator overloading

You can overload an operator in C++, but you can’t do it in Java as it’s not supported.

Structures and unions

C++ has support for structures and unions, Java doesn’t have structures and unions.

Similarities between C++ and Java

These two languages are very similar in terms of syntax and language features. They are so similar that if you’re shown some portion of C++ code from a project and asked whether it’s C++ or Java code, you may confuse yourself.

Consider the following points regarding similarities:

  • The syntax is very similar.
  • Both the languages are object-oriented.
  • ‘Main’ function is the entry point for both languages, meaning execution starts from the ‘main’ function.
  • The data types are similar.
  • Primitive data types, loops, conditional statements, conditional operators, arithmetic operators, classes, variable definitions, variable initializations, value assignments, etc. are similar.
  • The comments of C++ and Java code are identical.

Final thoughts

We have learned from this article that both C++ and Java are powerful languages. You can consider learning both of them to get a solid understanding of computer programming.

But if you want to choose one between the two, ask yourself what kind of applications you want to build. For example, for building Windows applications, C++ is an ideal choice. And if you need to build app servers, enterprise applications, etc., you can select Java.

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Akhtar  Hossain

Akhtar Hossain

Md Akhtar Hossain is a freelance tech writer, eBook writer, web developer, and an aspiring entrepreneur. He loves to write about web design, web development, mobile app development, and online business. Akhtar has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in computer applications. View all posts by the Author

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