Java vs JavaScript: What’s the Difference?

javavsMany newcomers to the world of computer programming assume that Java and JavaScript refer to the same language. While they share some similarities in terms of nomenclature and function, they are two very different coding languages with their own unique purpose and characteristics.

Origins of Java and JavaScript

Java is the brainchild of James Gosling, Mike Sheridan, and Patrick Naughton, who created the general-purpose programming language in June 1991 to use in interactive televisions. Due to its advanced nature, however, Java had limited use in TVs. The trio then focused their efforts on marketing Java as a computer and web-based programming language, touting it as “Write Once, Run Anywhere.”

Developed by Pittsburgh-native Brendan Eich in 1995, JavaScript is a programming language that was originally used for client-side scripting in HTML. According to Wikipedia, many professional programmers disregarded the JavaScript, simply because the vast majority of people who used it were web developers and amateur coders. Nonetheless, it has since become one of the most popular and widely used programming languages on the Internet.

Static vs Dynamic

Among the most notable differences between these two languages is that Java is statically typed, whereas JavaScript is created dynamically. In static languages like Java, variables are bound to both a type and object. In dynamically types languages like JavaScript, variables are only bound to an object, unless of course it is null.

Class-Based Object-Oriented Programming Language

JavaScript is classified as an Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) language, meaning programmers must specify the data type and structure, as well as the functions which are applied to those structures. This allows the data to become an object, consisting of both the data and its respective functions. Java is also an OOP language, but unlike its counterpart, it’s classified as a class-based OOP, meaning inheritance is achieved through the definition of classes of objects instead of the actual objects.

Debugging

Because Java is compiled before its executed, erroneous code is easier to spot and fix. JavaScript, on the other hand, is compiled in a different manner, which often results in some bugs slipping by post-runtime. Debugging in JavaScript is heavily dependent on the environment in which it is executed.

Scoping

Java is a block-based programming language in which variables go out of scope immediately after control comes out of the block. JavaScript is a function-based language in which variables are accessible in their declared function.

Write Once, Run Anywhere

Remember how we mentioned the “Write Once, Run Anywhere” tagline when describing the history of Java? Well, this programming language lives up to this slogan by achieving platform independence. JavaScript lacks this feature, leaving it susceptible to browser compatibility issues. For instance, a JavaScript element may load and function just fine in Mozilla Firefox but not Internet Explorer.

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