JavaJava versus Swift

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There are hundreds of programming languages in the world to choose from, with even the top 100 enjoying widespread use. Even if you were to try and choose between the top 25, it would be difficult to say which language a developer should choose, as each has its own strengths, weaknesses, and applications. With that in mind, today we are going to examine two popular choices: Java and Swift. We will compare each programming language in terms of their syntax, performance, use cases, and support in an effort to help you choose which is the right choice for your project or career path.

What is Java?

Java is one of the most widely used programming languages in the world. It regularly battles Python, JavaScript, and C# for the top spot in developer surveys such as the Tiobe Index. Java is a highly versatile language with Object-oriented programming (OOP) features based on the principle of WORA, which stands for Write Once, Run Anywhere. The WORA philosophy is one of Java’s greatest strengths, as it ensures Java applications can run on any platform, thanks to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

You will often hear that Java is a true OOP language, but that is not the case, as Java supports primitive and non-primitive data types versus treating data types as objects. Still, through various features and methods, Java is capable of object-orientation and OOP concepts like inheritance, polymorphism, classes, objects, and encapsulation. These OOP features make Java code easier to maintain, easy to read, more secure, less error prone, and more efficient.

The language was developed by Sun Microsystems in the 90s and is currently maintained by Oracle. It can be compared to languages in the C-family, such as C, C++, and C#.

Read: Best Collaboration Tools for Developers

What is Swift?

Swift is the brainchild of tech giant Apple, and has become one of the most popular programming languages for creating applications on Apple platforms. It focuses on performance, readability, and ease of use and aims to become a well-rounded, modern, and expressive programming experience. This expressive nature comes in the form of several coding concepts, including:

  • Functional programming patterns such as map and filter
  • Structs with support for methods, extensions, and protocols, making them more on par with classes
  • Focus on safety features, such as requiring variables to be initialized before use and overflow checks for arrays and integers
  • Built-in error handling
  • Interoperability with Object-C and C++

Swift is best known for its role in mobile development for the iOS and is one of the fastest growing language in the world, despite only having existed since 2010.

What are the Differences Between Swift and Java?

There are quite a few differences between Swift and Java. In the following section, we will discuss the main ways in which they differ, which include:

  • Syntax
  • Performance
  • Use cases
  • Ecosystem
  • Community
  • Syntax

Java has syntax that is derived (and borrows from) C and C++. This makes Java a great language to learn if you have experience with the C-family of languages, as the languages are very similar and can be used to extend one another in certain instances. Java enforces strong typing and uses a verbose syntax – moreso than languages such as Python and Perl, which are more concise.

Java code is compiled into bytecode, which is then executed by the Java Virtual Machine. This makes Java codebases perform better, as do several methods attributed to the JVM and Just-in-Time (JIT) compiler.

Java syntax is considered class-based with an Object-oriented structure and features. It relies on explicit type declarations, which helps protect data integrity and mitigates errors that revolve around data types.

Below is an example of the typical right of passage “Hello, World!” application, which demonstrates Java’s reliance on classes:

public class HelloWorld {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("Hello, World!");

Swift, meanwhile, differentiates itself by using a more clear and concise syntax. It introduces programming concepts such as type inference, which reduces the need for explicit type annotations and declarations. Swift can also accommodate both object-oriented and functional programming approaches, giving programmers a wide range of flexible tools.

Here is an example of the “Hello, World!” program in Swift:

import Foundation
func helloWorld() {
    print("Hello, World!")



Java, being a compiled language, tends to perform better than similar languages in its class and when compared to interpreted languages, like Perl. Further, the JVM, as noted, offers optimizations to bytecode during runtime, which enables JIT compilation, which further optimizes performance. This level of performance makes Java an excellent choice for large applications that demand performance and speed, which can include large web applications, Android apps, and enterprise software.

As mentioned, Swift focuses on performance, which is evident in features such as its Automatic Reference Counting (ARC and various compilation optimizations. Swift also prioritizes memory management (similar to Java’s approach with garbage collection) and runtime efficiency, which is a bonus if you create responsive applications on Apple platforms.

Read: Best Online Courses to Learn Java

Use Cases

Java is a very powerful language that is used in a wide range of applications, which can include web development via web frameworks like Spring and Java EE, mobile app development for Android devices, desktop software, embedded systems programming, the IoT, video game creation, and big data processing via Hadoop. Thanks to its platform independence, Java is also a great option for creating cross-platform software and Enterprise-level applications.

Swift’s main strength is its seamless integration with Apple platforms and architectures. As a creation of Apple, it is obviously the primary choice for developing applications for macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. It shares a close relationship with Cocoa and the Cocoa Touch frameworks, which makes it easier to create Apple-related projects.

Community and Resources

Java, having been around for several decades now, has a vast and very active community of developers. This community contributes to Java’s many learning resources by means of forum discussions, extensive documentation, tutorials, video how-tos, and knowledgebases, making Java an easy language to learn and troubleshoot. This same community also contributes to the upkeep of Java’s core and creates libraries designed to make coding more efficient and prone to fewer errors. Oracle’s Java Community Process (JCP) governs the growth of the language via Java Specification Requests (JSRs), meaning that the language receives frequent updates and improvements.

Finally, due to Java’s wide popularity, it enjoys a wide array of programming tools, third-party libraries, and developer frameworks.

Swift has a thriving community as well, though it is, admittedly, not as large as Java’s. It is backed by Apple as well, which creates frequent updates to help the language evolve, become more secure, and grow. The Swift Package Manager and Swift Evolution process also aids the language’s expansion and focus on continuous improvement.


Speaking of developer ecosystems – Java has one of the most robust and mature ecosystems in the software development realm. There are a wide variety of integrated development environments (IDEs) including Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, and NetBeans. These IDEs feature productivity tools such as code completion, debugging, and profiling. There are also plenty of Java-friendly build tools (Apache and Gradle) that facilitate project management, dependency handling, builds, and deployment.

As for Swift’s developer ecosystem, Apple’s office IDE, Xcode, is the main tool. Xcode is a powerful development environment used to create applications for Apple platforms. It features an Interface Builder for designing Apple-esque user interfaces and an Instruments tool that provides detailed performance analysis and feedback.

Final Thoughts on Swift versus Java

In this programming tutorial, we discussed the many differences between Swift and Java. We learned that Java is a versatile programming language with Object-oriented programming features that can be used for virtually any type of software development, including gaming, mobile, embedded systems, desktop software, and Enterprise-level applications.

Swift’s concise syntax, focus on performance, and integration with Apple’s developer ecosystem make it the go-to programming language for developing applications on Apple platforms.

Both languages have a thriving community and are highly performant in their unique areas. They both also feature a large developer ecosystem consisting of tools, modules, frameworks, and libraries, though Java probably comes out on top in this arena.

When choosing between Java and Swift (or any other programming language), it is vital to consider the type of project you are working on, the type of career path you wish to pursue, and the requirements of your project. Salary and employability are also considerations, so be sure to do your research in these arenas.

If you want to program powerful applications across a wide range of software types, as well as have a greater shot of employment and higher-level salary, Java is a great option. If you want to pursue a career creating apps for Apple products, Swift would be the obvious.

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