Python VS JavaScript: Which One Should You Learn?

Choosing the right programming language for your work is a huge priority before starting to write your first lines of code. There are plenty of languages for you to choose from. And it's easy to learn with plenty of online resources available!

You might have encountered two languages that intrigue you: Python VS JavaScript. In some ways, these two languages are comparable, but usually, their use cases, syntax, and approaches to programming differ significantly.

Let's see what differences and similarities these two languages have!

Definition and Use of JavaScript

The main definition of JavaScript is that it is a client-side scripting language for making static websites interactive.

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Python vs JavaScript: Javascript logo

Since JavaScript is a scripting language, it also does not require an individual compilation step. Let’s explain this in more detail:

Browsers have built-in engines that understand and execute JavaScript commands. Therefore, you can include the JavaScript code directly into your HTML document (write commands within the tags). And guess what — no need for additional compilers.

It should be pointed out that browsers are the ones that run the JavaScript code. Developers can even write JavaScript code in such simple programs as Notepad++.

A Brief Introduction to Python

The first noticeable difference in the discussion of Python VS JavaScript is that Python is an object-oriented, high-level programming language.

Python vs JavaScript: Python logo

It is a general-purpose language, which answers the question is Python front-end or back-end. Because of its simplicity, flexibility, versatility, and other useful features, Python is growing and becoming one of the most popular programming languages around.

Scripting languages such as JavaScript provide instructions that browsers execute. However, object-oriented languages work with building blocks (objects). They let developers create objects, assign attributes to them, or set them to perform actions.

Python vs. JavaScript: the Popularity of Both Languages in 2020

According to the Developer Survey of 2020, JavaScript is still the leading programming language. However, the popularity of Python has also risen significantly over the last couple of years, beating such languages as Java, C#, PHP, and C++.

Python vs JavaScript: statistics

Web frameworks of JavaScript are also leaders: jQuery, React.js, and Angular.js are the top three used web frameworks. In this list, we also see some frameworks of Python: Django and Flask.

Python vs JavaScript: Web frameworks statistics

Another interesting aspect of this survey is that Python is the second most loved language. When it comes to the wanted category, Python takes the lead, pushing JavaScript to second place.

Python vs JavaScript

Python is now the fastest-growing programming language, with its developers making approximately $116k (median salary). JavaScript programmers are not far behind: they make approximately $110k per year. Therefore, the battle of Python vs. JavaScript depends on your goals since salary-wise, they are similar.

Python vs JavaScript: statistics

JavaScript for Data Science? Or Python?

JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. However, this does not mean that it is capable of performing any task provided.

Data science is an upcoming field in which specialists learn to analyze, manipulate raw or structured data. Data scientists usually use several programming languages together (one of them being Python).

Python VS Javascript: quality score

While data science is possible with JavaScript as well, specialists do not choose it regularly. Here are the main reasons why Python wins Python vs. JavaScript in terms of data analysis:

  • JavaScript does not offer many data science packages and built-in functions compared to Python.
  • With JavaScript, you would take longer to perform data science tasks and solve issues. In this case, Python is a better choice since you can easily find how-to tutorials and other tips for data science.
  • Overall, JavaScript for data science is more of an adventure, meaning that you will need to figure out most of the things on your own. While this seems interesting, people who want to perform actions quickly will probably go with using Python or R languages.

Nevertheless, JavaScript also has some perks when it comes to data science:

  • It offers visualization with its D3.js, Plotly.js, and other libraries. By using them, it is easier to create impressive data visualization and dashboards.
  • The release of the Tensorflow.js library provided opportunities for people to perform machine learning with JavaScript. It is an open-source project that lets you define, test, and run machine learning models on the browser.

The conclusion is that JavaScript is slowly becoming a rival of Python in terms of data science. However, Python guarantees a more efficient, structured, and guided performance.

Node.js VS Python: Front-End and Back-End Aspect

Comparing Python to JavaScript also includes discussing whether they are front-end or back-end. Initially, JavaScript was mainly concerned with making websites dynamic and user-friendly.

For instance, developers used JavaScript to submit forms or to prevent sites from fully reloading when only small details needed to be updated.

An old belief is that Python is the back-end, and JavaScript is front-end. Is this true? Let’s investigate together.

JavaScript became an option for backend with the introduction of Node.js environment. Thanks to this extension, you can run JavaScript code outside browsers (on the server).

Is Python frontend or backend? Python actually is a general-purpose language, meaning it is applicable both on the server-side and the client-side. Traditionally, it is more noticeable in backend development.

Python VS JavasScript: laptop with code

Python has capabilities in the front-end as well, but we do not recommend replacing languages that are front-end by nature with Python. Currently, browsers do not execute Python. Therefore, you would have to transpile Python to JavaScript before using it.

Even if you can transpile Python to JavaScript, the interpretation of code makes the execution process slower. Brython is one of the transpilers you could use, but probably shouldn’t as the Python is not ready to be considered as “running on the browser.”

Therefore, JavaScript wins the front-end aspect of Python vs. JavaScript.

Difficulty Comparison: Which is More Beginner-Friendly?

Beginners are often interested in the simplicity aspect of Python vs. JavaScript: which is easier to master? The answer: JavaScript is more difficult to master than Python.

Python is usually the beginners-choice, especially for those who do not have any prior programming experience.

  • Python code is notorious for being more readable, meaning that it is easier to understand (and write).
  • The code in Python has fewer lines than in other languages such as C or C++.
  • There are fewer structural rules in Python. For instance, you are not required to write a semicolon after every statement.
  • It has many frameworks that contain pre-written code to speed up the development of your projects.

However, despite being easy to learn, Python does require some good navigational skills. After mastering the basics, you should look through available frameworks, see their purposes, and how they can help you produce applications. A detailed analysis of Python libraries is here.

Python VS JavaScript: laptop keyboard phone on bed

JavaScript is the most popular language, but it is not that easy to learn.

  • One important aspect is that JavaScript is difficult to debug. You might notice that despite your code being error-free, the program won’t work (fail silently).
  • There are many additional characters, such as curly brackets and semicolons. However, in the newer version of JS, semicolons appear automatically.
  • One perk is that the JavaScript syntax resembles the rules of other C-like languages. Therefore, people with experience in such languages will be more prepared to learn JavaScript.

In conclusion, it is always easier to learn the language that interests and excites you. Additionally, do not assume that the more theoretical posts you read, the better of a programmer you will become. It is more important to develop actual projects with specific ideas, figuring out possible options, and selecting the best-suited ones.

JavaScript vs. Python for Web Development

There are several criteria for answering the question of should I learn Python or Javascript for web development. You need your application or website to be fast and to handle the growing amount of data and code.

When comparing the performance aspect of JavaScript vs. Python, JavaScript is the clear winner. Software that runs on Python will take longer to respond, making it idle for the user community. Therefore, if you are interested in creating websites that perform efficiently, you should use JavaScript.

Scalability is also important when discussing Python vs. JavaScript. It refers to the capabilities of languages when it comes to handling huge numbers of users and managing large amounts of data by using minimal server utilization.

One of the purposes of Node.js is that it was designed for scalability and supports asynchronous programming. Therefore, Node.js is much more suitable for the development of programs that depend on the speed of execution.

However, how to use Python for web development? Python is mostly applicable in the server-side. This language has a very stable environment with frameworks such as Flask, Django, Pyramid, and CherryPy, making sure that development becomes more efficient.

If you want to become a web developer, especially front-end web developer, you can't go without JavaScript. Learn JavaScript on edX

Mobile Development

Traditionally, Python was not for creating GUI applications. However, frameworks such as Kivy and BeeWare make mobile development with Python possible.

smartphone

Kivy is an open-source Python library that has an original UI toolkit with its versions of buttons, text entry forms, text labels, etc. It supports both Android and iOS.

Developers also present some cons of using the Kivy framework for Python mobile development. It resembles a game engine more than a native app engine by rendering most of the custom controls in OpenGL instead of using native controls.

BeeWare is still a new library, meaning that it is not the best source of the material. However, it might make it possible to develop native-looking mobile and desktop apps with Python in the future.

Just because you can, does not mean you should. Even though Kivy makes the Python mobile development possible, it is not the first-choice option.

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Best Options for Developing Mobile Apps

Creating a functional, fast, and enjoyable app is the main priority of many developers. Therefore, they select Java or JavaScript for smoother mobile development. Enthusiasts can attempt to create cross-platform mobile apps with Python as an experiment or for testing purposes.

Mobile development with JavaScript also has its pros and cons. The first thing to mention is that the primary purpose of JavaScript is creating and managing websites: mobile development is like a side-job. Nevertheless, mobile development with JavaScript is still more advanced than with Python.

Another con is that iOS and Android phones do not run native apps written in JavaScript. Therefore, it is necessary to create hybrid apps by employing PhoneGap, Sencha, or Kendo UI.

These frameworks let you build mobile apps by using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Then, you can package the final product into mobile apps. A popular choice for creating mobile apps with JavaScript is using the React.js and Angular.js frameworks as well.

Node.js vs. Python Performance

Languages cannot be slow or fast. The performance aspect depends on how quickly code executes. The speed of Node.js vs. Python performance is not a complicated dilemma.

Python VS JavaScript: speed

Applications written with Node.js will work faster since the Node.js is based on Chrome’s V8, which is a fast and dynamic engine. Therefore, developing real-time applications with JavaScript is more effective since users won’t suffer from idle behavior.

However, if you are not developing a real-time application, speed might not be an issue. Python is not notorious for its speed, especially when you use such frameworks as Django.

There are methods of improving the performance of Python by using back-end serverless architecture without any framework. Nevertheless, speed is not the main priority of Python developers.

JavaScript and Python Integration

There are ways of converting Python to JavaScript by using the so-called transpilers instead of choosing one from the Python vs. JavaScript discussion.

For instance, Transcrypt is for transpiling Python to JavaScript. The tool aims to keep the structure and the idioms of the original Python code. Furthermore, you can generate source maps for the transpiled code, which will let you debug your code by using Python instead of generated JavaScript code.

The second tool to discuss is Jiphy. It is for converting Python to JavaScript or JavaScript to Python. In either case, this program lets you combine both languages before converting them. However, this tool has some flaws: it is not capable of converting elaborate codebases (more oriented to transpiling functions).

We have already mentioned Brython for transpiling Python for client-side web programming to JavaScript. Developers have proved this option to be legit with working code examples and even mini-programs. There are some limitations to using Brython: it does not support the local filesystem.

Conclusions

You might still ask: should I learn Python or Javascript? We recommend that you focus on the main field you want to learn. For instance, if web development is your drive, the better choice is to consider the holy trio of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

People interested in machine learning, data science, and neural networks should consider learning Python when it comes to Python vs. JavaScript.

Additionally, the end of Python vs. JavaScript debate relates to your experiences and preferences. For instance, beginners might choose Python because of its simplistic syntax.

While Python is usable as a frontend language, transpilers that convert Python code to JavaScript make applications slower. Therefore, it is better to use Python for backend development and stick to JavaScript for frontend.

If you have chosen one language of these two, you should start learning now! I have picked the best courses for beginners for both of these languages. EdX offers a great beginner course for learning Python. This extensive course is self-paced so you can learn at your own speed. 

However, if JavaScript suits you more, the before mentioned edX also offers a course on JavaScript. This course is made to make you an expert front-end programmer!

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Recent User Reviews

Python

Javascript has flaws.. not too many functions and a bit slower too...

start with javascript

take bull by the horns and start with the harder stuff..

Only Javascript

For web development I only used javascript, the speed is something else with it.

The answer

The answer is.. you should learn both

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If you want to be a real professional in this field, both Python and Javascript are vital to learn and work with.

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In Machine Learning, don't even think about javascript. It's non existent here.

beginner

python is beginner friendly, while javascript requires a lot of knowledge and work to understand. I suggest you start with python.

FAQ

Which is more beginner-friendly Python VS JavaScript?

Usually, Python is the beginner's choice, especially if the user doesn't have any programming experience. Python has a more readable code, has fewer lines than in other languages, and fewer structural lines than in JavaScript.

Is JavaScript better than Python for web development?

JavaScript is a clear winner when it comes to web development. Speaking about the performance aspect, Python takes a lot longer to respond - if you want an efficient website, you should use JavaScript.

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