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JavaScript and Python


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Python vs JavaScript: Most Important Differences

Posted in JavaScript, Python
Python vs Javascript

Python and JavaScript are two of the most popular programming languages right now. Although both are object-oriented programming languages, their scopes are different. Being comparatively easy to learn, and with ample job opportunities for both, Python and JavaScript are ideal choices for starting a coding career is a good option.

In the Python vs. JavaScript debate, it’s important to know both what they have in common, as well as their differences. While there is a lot in common, there are some important differences that are well worth knowing before you jump into learning either one.

Before we go ahead and start listing the various differences between JavaScript and Python, let’s first go through a general overview of the two languages.

What is Python?

Python is a high-level, interpreted, strongly-typed programming language featuring dynamic semantics and object-oriented design. It is meant to be easy to read and easy to implement. Often cited as one of the easiest programming languages to learn, check out some of the best Python courses to get a fuller understanding of the language.

Python can also serve as a scripting language to the likes of Perl and Ruby for creating web applications. The beauty of Python is that it allows programmers to use a range of programming styles for developing both complex and simple programs.

Python is a ‘batteries included programming language,’ which simply refers to the wide range of modules it comes with. Programming paradigms supported by Python are:

  • Functional programming
  • Imperative programming
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Procedural programming

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript or JS is an object-oriented programming language widely used for creating dynamic web pages. It is standardized in the ECMAScript language specification. Besides OOP, JS also provides support for two other programming paradigms: functional and imperative.

JS is typically used inside a web browser for providing dynamic functionality that can’t be achieved using CSS and HTML. JavaScript also supports building standard web applications with date, text, and regular expressions.

Although JavaScript was initially meant for front-end development, it is now also used for back-end development. Thus, JavaScript offers the capability to perform full-stack development. In fact, with Node.js, JS can be used for developing standalone desktop applications too.

The best JavaScript courses will provide the deep dive you need to get started with front-end and full-stack development.

Is JavaScript or Python Easier?

From the perspective of getting started, it is much easier to learn Python than to learn JavaScript. In fact, one of the main design objectives of the Python programming language is being easy to understand and implement.

That’s not to say JavaScript is a difficult language to learn. It is also comparatively easy to learn, and it’s very possible for you to build a decent first project within a month or two of you starting to learn. 

Since they’re both fairly easy to learn, you should focus on what you want to build and your end goals as an amateur programmer. 

Which is Better: Python or JavaScript?

Choosing between Python or JavaScript is a matter of opinion. 

They have both ample job opportunities, are easy to learn, and have wide support in the community. Each has its own career progression, and finds application in certain industries more than others. 

Do your research on what a career with each language is like and factor that into your decision.

Are There More Jobs in Python or JavaScript?

Python vs Javascript Jobs Chart

Python and JavaScript are the two most popular programming languages on the market right now. The demand for both is high: GitHub data shows them both at the top two spots when it comes to pull requests, with Python seeing a 17.9% year-over-year (YoY) growth and JS seeing a 14% increase YoY.

The Stack Overflow Developer Survey results for 2021 show the median income of JS at approximately $56,000, while Python ranks slightly higher at $61,000. As for the actual amount of job opportunities, the exact number can vary, but both are among the highest in job postings online. 

So, in a nutshell, both Python and JS have a lot of job opportunities.

Python vs. JS: A Head-to-Head Comparison

Arrays, Lists, and Tuples

JavaScript provides support for arrays as inbuilt data types. Although there is no built-in support for arrays in Python, there is a workaround for implementing arrays in Python. This is achieved using lists, the closest thing to arrays that Python has to offer.

Python lists are similar to another data type available in the programming language: tuples. The most important difference between a list and a tuple is that while the former is mutable, the latter is immutable.

Attributes and Properties

JavaScript objects have properties that can be composed of underlying attributes. It lets you define a property. In the Python programming language, the descriptor protocol, where getter and setter functions are used, allows you to define an attribute.

Code Blocks

JavaScript makes use of curly brackets for defining code blocks. Python, on the other hand, uses indentation for defining code blocks. While JavaScript has the semi-colon (;) that serves as the statement terminator (though it is not mandatory), Python uses a newline.

Encoding Format

JavaScript should be encoded as UTF-16. Also, there is no inbuilt support in the programming language for manipulating raw bytes. Unless an encoding format is specified, Python source code is ASCII by default.

Function Argument

Functions Argument Image

Using the args keyword to pass an unspecified number of arguments

Python raises an exception in case a function is called with incorrect parameters. It also accepts additional parameters with the special syntax “*args”. The latter is used to pass a variable number of arguments to a function.

JavaScript doesn’t care whether a function is called with correct parameters or not. This is because, by default, any missing parameters in JS are given the ‘undefined’ value; If there are any additional arguments, then they are treated as special arguments by JavaScript.

Hash Tables

Hash tables are indexed structures that allow you to define a list of paired values. They are used for searching, insertion and deletion operations, and are faster than 

The Python programming language features inbuilt hash tables, called dictionaries, sets, et cetera. The Dictionary data type is what is used to represent the implementation of hash tables.

JavaScript has hash table support in the form of map and set.

Implicit Conversion

Python is a strongly-typed programming language, i.e, there is no implicit data type conversion that happens in the programming language. However, Python has a provision for both strong typing and dynamic typing.

Contrary to this, JavaScript is weakly-typed and, thus, offers implicit data type conversion.

For example, in Javascript, the type conversion would take place as follows:

3 + ‘3’; //The output is ‘33’, a string

In Python, if you were to do the same, you would get a TypeError. Dynamic typing refers to the capacity of a variable to change its type based on its assignment at any particular moment.

Inheritance

Both Python and JavaScript support inheritance. However, the difference lies in their types. While JavaScript uses a prototype-based inheritance model, Python makes use of a class-based inheritance model.

Another distinction between Python and JavaScript in terms of inheritance is that Python doesn’t have a way to inherit from instances, while JS does have.

Mobile Development

In addition to front-end and back-end development, JavaScript is also a good option for mobile development. However, Python is not typically used for developing mobile applications. However, in recent years, some developers have begun using Python for mobile development.

Modules and Libraries

Python is known as a ‘batteries-included programming language’ because it comes with several modules. Moreover, it has numerous libraries for accomplishing data analytics, machine learning, and scientific computing.

On the contrary, JavaScript comes with a fewer number of modules, such as date, JSON, and math. Additional functionality for JS is available through the host environment, which is usually a web browser, and infrequently, something different, like an operating system.

Mutability

Mutable objects are those whose values can be changed once they are assigned values. Contrarily, immutable objects can’t change values. 

Data types in Python are divided into mutable and immutable types. For example, the set is a mutable data type, while the list is an immutable data type.

JavaScript also has mutable and immutable data types. Examples of the former are objects, arrays and sets, while examples of the latter are numbers, strings and boolean values.

Numeric Types

In JavaScript, you used to have only floating-point variables. However, a new primitive type is  also supported by modern browsers and the V8 engine: BigInt. 

On the contrary, the Python programming language features several varieties of numeric data types, such as int, fixed-point decimal, and float.

Object Access

To access the instance of the class, Python uses the ‘self’ keyword. JavaScript, on the contrary, has the ‘this’ method for accessing an object.

Object Access Code

Using the self keyword to access objects in Python

Object Access Code 4

Using the this method to access objects in JavaScript

Procedural Programming

Both Python and JavaScript follow a multi-paradigm approach i.e.; they provide support for more than one programming paradigms.

Both Python and JavaScript offer functional, imperative, and object-oriented approaches to programming. However, Python has several aspects of a procedural programming language, while JavaScript doesn’t.

REPL (Read-Eval-Print-Loop)

You get REPL with the installation of Python on your system. JavaScript has  REPL in the browser console of all modern browsers. You can also obtain REPL for JavaScript by installing Node.js.

Applications

JavaScript is ideal for building a website or native application. Python, on the other hand, is suitable for a variety of tasks, including data analytics, machine learning, and math-intensive operations.

Python and JavaScript: Key Features and Differences Summarized

Features

Python

JavaScript

Arrays, Lists, and Tuples

No in-built support for arrays

Supports in-built data types

Attributes and Properties

The descriptor protocol is used to define attributes

Objects can have underlying attributes

Code Blocks

Uses indentation to define code blocks; new lines to terminate statements

Uses curly braces to define code blocks; semicolons to terminate statements

Encoding Format

ASCII by default

UTF-16

Function Arguments

Raises an exception in case of incorrect parameters

Missing parameters are assigned the undefined value

Hash Tables

Supports in-built hash tables

Has map and set

Implicit Conversion

No implicit data type conversion

Offers implicit data type conversion

Inheritance

Class-based inheritance model

Prototype-based inheritance model

Mobile Development

Not typically used for mobile development

Better utility for mobile development

Modules and Libraries

Has several modules

Has fewer modules

Mutability

Supports both mutable and immutable types

Supports both mutable and immutable types

Numeric Types

Supports several numeric data types

Floating-point variables and BigInt

Objects 

Uses the ‘self’ keyword

Uses the ‘this’ method

Procedural Programming

More robust support for procedural programming

Supports procedural programming; not as robust as Python

REPL

In-built

On modern browser consoles or through Node.js

Applications

Website and full-stack development

Data analytics, machine learning, scientific applications

 

Python vs Javascript: The Final Decision

You now know the differences between Python and Javascript, which should hopefully inform your decision on choosing between the two. 

Both programming languages share a lot of aspects, such as following a multi-paradigm approach and being lexically scoped. At the same time, there are several differences between the two that must not be ignored.

Remember, each language has its use cases. However, you can achieve almost anything with Python that you can use with JavaScript.

There is no scarcity of libraries and extensions available to Python and JavaScript for achieving more than what is offered as inbuilt features. Although both have several job opportunities available, Python has a better market presence and is easier to learn. 

Whichever you choose, good luck, and don’t forget to make the best use of online learning resources to help you on your journey. 

If you're interested in expandiing your knowledge, check out some of these great Python certifications.

python certified

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Vijay Singh

Vijay Singh

My name is Vijay Singh Khatri, and I enjoy meeting new people and finding ways to help them have an uplifting experience. I have had a variety of customer service opportunities, through which I was able to have fewer returned products and increased repeat customers, when compared with co-workers. Currently working with hackr.io View all posts by the Author

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Joe
Joe

Some corrections:

> "However, no built-in REPL is available with JavaScript."

JavaScript has a REPL in the browser console of all modern browsers.

> "The Python programming language features inbuilt hash tables, called dictionaries, sets, et cetera. Unlike Python, JavaScript has no provision for built-in hash table support in any form."

Modern JavaScript has Map and Set.

Vaclav
Vaclav

Thanks for this article.
Update: Numeric Types in JavaScript - BigInt, a new number primitive. It's supported by all major browsers and by the V8 engine too.
Code Blocks: Semicolon is not compulsory (a new line is fine)

Robin
Robin

Thanks for the write up. It is helpful.

One point I’m not sure about: “JavaScript should be encoded as UTF-16.”

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