Developers have a plethora of programming languages to choose from, each with its own unique set of features, strengths, and weaknesses. Two of those options include Java and Golang. In this tutorial, we will review each of these languages and examine how they differ from one another in an effort to help you choose the right option for your software project or career path. In particular, we will be comparing their syntax, performance, support, and features.
What is Java?
Java is a general purpose programming language with Object-oriented features. It is often attributed as being a full-fledged OOP language, but this is not quite true due to the fact that Java has both primitive and non-primitive data types.
Java was created in the mid 1990’s with the philosophy of WORA, which stands for “write once, run anywhere”. This means that programs created with Java can run on any platform that features the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), which encompasses most major systems. It is known for its stability, wide-use, large library of extensions and frameworks, and community support.
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What is Go (Golang)?
Go – also known as Golang – is a programming language created by Google back in 2007, making it a relatively new language when compared to its contemporaries. Google designed the language with a mindset towards performance, security, and ease of use. It is typically used for large-scale software projects, especially those that rely on concurrency and networking.
If you are interested in learning more about Go, we have a great selection of Golang programming tutorials to get you started.
What are the Differences Between Java and Go?
Below we highlight some of the differences between Java and Go, including:
- Memory management
- Use cases
- Error handling
- Learning curve
There are several differences between Java and Go in terms of syntax. Java, for its part, is similar to the C-family of languages, which include C, C#, and C++. Programmers familiar with those languages will have a much easier time learning Java. It makes uses of many Object-oriented principles, including classes, objects, polymorphism, encapsulation, inheritance, and interfaces.
Go, on the other hand, uses a more minimalistic approach to its syntax, favoring readability and maintainability. It focuses on concepts such as explicit type declarations and composition versus the use of inheritance. Golang code is more concise than Java and considered to be more human readable, making it a simpler language to learn, understand, maintain, and debug.
From a performance perspective, Go supports concurrency and multi-threading, making it very efficient in terms of handling multiple processing tasks at the same time. This gives it an edge in performance. Go uses Goroutines and channels to perform concurrent execution.
Java also allows for concurrency through the Concurrency API, which lets developers take advantage of threads, locks, and synchronized blocks. Java’s concurrency is a bit bulkier than Go’s, which is more lightweight and can, in some instances, contribute to Go applications being a little more performant. However, Java does have built-in performance optimizations courtesy of the JVM and its garbage collection utilities that can make the performance of Java applications comparable to Go in most situations.
Speaking of garbage collection, one primary benefit of Java is the fact that it has an automatic memory management and resource allocation utility in the form of its garbage collector. This feature makes it so that Java programmers do not need to manually manage memory, as the JVM handles the memory allocation and deallocation for you. This leads to fewer memory leaks and segmentation faults.
Go, meanwhile, also has a garbage collector. The difference here, however, is that Go lets programmers manually manage memory resources, giving you more control over memory usage. This makes Go an ideal choice for low-level programming projects and applications where performance is crucial.
Java has been around for decades, though it can still be considered young when compared to other languages. That being said though, Java has a very mature and vast developer ecosystem with a large range of libraries, frameworks, and developer tools. All of this leads to Java being a very powerful and flexible language, with a wide set of features to support virtually any use case. Java is supported by many powerful IDEs, including Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, and Netbeans, as well as build automation tools like Maven and Gradle.
Go is considered a young programming language, having only been around since 2007. Despite that, Go still has a pretty robust developer ecosystem, which consists of tools like the Go compiler, Go modules, and, of course, the Go standard library. That being said, it has a ways to go before it compares to Java in the ecosystem realm.
As stated above, Java has been around for roughly 38 years and has developed a large and active community during that time, most of which have contributed in some way to Java’s growth and support. Because of this, it is very easy to find answers to common (or complex) questions and problems, which come in the way of tutorials, documentation, and forums.
Go, too, has a thriving community that is known for its helpfulness. There are tons of Go tutorials and online forums, as well as official documentation, that can help new Go programmers learn and troubleshoot the language.
Java is highly versatile, thanks to its lineage of the C-family of languages, its above-mentioned ecosystem, and its OOP features. It can be used to create most types of applications, including desktop apps, mobile apps, enterprise software, video games, and embedded systems. It is a popular choice for banking, ecommerce, healthcare, and virtually every industry you can imagine, due in large part to its extensive library and scalability.
Go, meanwhile, is excellent for concurrent intensive and network-reliant applications. In particular, its concurrency model and handling of I/O operations make it a great choice for web servers, microservices, and applications that operate in real-time. Go has also become popular for DevOps teams and developers working in cloud development, thanks to its quick compilation times and scalability.
Java primarily uses exceptions and exception handling for its errors and error handling processes. It uses both checked and unchecked exceptions to handle errors, which is not always the most efficient method, as it can lead to code bloat or verbose code.
Go uses a similar method for error handling, relying on explicit return values. The language encourages programmers to handle errors explicitly, which leads to cleaner code that has more readability and maintainability.
From a learning perspective, Java is feature-rich and complex, with a syntax that is somewhat human-readable (meaning you can understand some of it even if you do not code). Its Object-oriented features and syntax, however, do make it more difficult to learn than languages like Python or Perl, especially if you are a new developer.
Go, on the other hand, features an easier syntax and fewer language specifications, which makes it simpler to learn. From a learning perspective, Go is probably closer to Python or Java’s potential successor, Kotlin.
Final Thoughts on Java and Go
Both Java and Go have their own set of strengths, weaknesses, and use cases. Java is a powerful language with many features and a strong developer ecosystem, making it even more extensible, flexible, and functional. It can be used for virtually every type of application, and excels in the realm of enterprise software.
Go is easier to learn, is very performant, and favors software projects that rely on concurrency, networking, and cloud-nativity. Programs created in Go are known for their scalability, efficiency, and reliability.
Making the choice between Java and Go will depend largely on the specific needs and requirements of your software development project. Other factors to consider include your development team’s experience, personal preferences, and development environment. Whichever choice you make, both Java and Go are powerful languages that can help you develop powerful, scalable, and flexible applications.
Read: Top Java Frameworks