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Java vs C#: Similar Syntax, Vastly Different Outcomes

Java and C# are two languages that are often compared with each other. Java, a language originally release by Sun Microsystems in 1996, which continues to be maintained by Oracle to this date, and C#, a language created by Microsoft as an alternative to Java for Windows app and Server development, are often compared as if they were for the same purpose; however, they are not. They both serve vastly different use cases. In this article, we will be talking about the pros and cons of Java vs C# (C Sharp).

First of all, I would like to thank Aaron Speedy, a member of the Info Toast Discord (which you can join with this link for an excellent tech community: https://discord.gg/rftS5NA) for suggesting this Java vs C# (C Sharp) as an article.

Java vs C#: The Pros and the Cons

There are many pros and cons to both Java and C#. I figure this is the best way to figure out whether Java or C# is right for you is to go through the pros and the cons, and you may find something that has to do with your use case here.

The Pros and Cons of Java

Pro: Compatibility

When Java was first created, compatibility was the main thing in mind. Java applications can run on almost any Operating System on almost any Architecture. All you need is a JRE, and you’re all set to go. With that, however, comes the issue.

The Java vs C# installer
For some users, having to go through installing Java can be enough for them to find an alternative for your application.

You can’t run Java applications if the user doesn’t have a JRE installed, and someone might be less likely to run your application if they have to install something else beforehand. However, there is a solution to that. You can package a JRE with the application, and while it might make the file size bigger, the program will be able to run with minimal effort from the user.

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Con: Performance

Many people like to point out that Java is a slow language. However, more modern versions of Java are actually able to run Java programs a lot faster, and Oracle has done a lot of work on improving Java applications’ performance. From advanced garbage collectors like Shenandoah to JIT (Just in Time) processing, Java is probably the fastest interpreted language available (Java is both compiled and interpreted, but it’s hard to get into the technical details of how this works).

How Java vs C# handles bytecode
How JIT Processing Works

However, that still doesn’t live up to the native support on Windows machines with C#. Native binaries will always be faster than Java, no matter how you stretch it. However, Java is certainly nowhere near as slow as other interpreted languages like Python.

Pro: Ease-of-Use

It is without a doubt that Java is one of the more easy-to-use programming languages. There are still some languages like Python, which are like baby toys, but for real programming languages that could make professional apps, Java is easier.

Con: Funky UI

One of the main problems with Java is that no matter what Operating System you are on, it will always look like a crappy port. Because Java is designed to be compatible with just about any OS, Java has to handle much of the User Interface stuff manually instead of leaving it up to the OS’s graphics compositor, which is what most other languages would do. There are definitely far more pretty implementations of universal user interface that works on every Operating System, like wxWidgets, but with Java, you have to live with ugly UI.

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Ugly Java applications
As you can see, no matter what Operating System you’re running, this UI will look slightly off.

The Pros and Cons of C#

When I do the pros and cons of C#, I am also speaking about Microsoft’s C# library, .NET. So assume when I say this stuff, I am speaking about .NET’s library, and not Mono.

Con: Compatibility

While this certainly has gotten better over the years, C# is a language created by Microsoft. And because Microsoft creates it, it will always get the best support in Windows. While .NET exists on Linux and Mac, it just isn’t the same as on Windows. The majority of people who develop for C# don’t release their applications for Linux and Mac, so expect for favorite .NET apps to require mono to run if you use a Mac or Linux machine.

Mono C sharp logo
The Mono Logo

Pro: Usability as a Server Backend

While servers that use Java as a server-side scripting language like Apache Tomcat certainly exist, they are not as widespread as Internet Information Services (IIS). Microsoft’s Internet Information Services uses C# as a server-side scripting language, and C# is almost as widely used as PHP as a server-side scripting language.

C sharp Microsoft IIS logo
IIS, Microsoft’s HTTP Server Software

Pro: Runs Natively on Windows

Most modern Windows machines have the .NET library installed on them by default, and pretty much anything written in .NET will run native on Windows machines. This means it will also be faster than Java if you’re on Windows.

However, Linux and Mac users will have to install Mono or .NET if they want to run your app, and they can only run it natively if you produce binaries for Linux and Mac. If you want to have an application that runs on many different Operating Systems, I would suggest you consider using Java or C++ if you want native binaries.

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Java vs C#: The Summary

In summary, both languages are great, but they are only similar in syntax. They have vastly different use cases. If you want compatibility with just about any Operating System and architecture, I would suggest using Java. You can run C# natively on Windows machines, but things will get difficult if you want to make your app for Linux or Mac. If you want to use it as a server-side scripting language, I’d recommend you go with C#. At the end of the day, it’s up to you and your application’s user base.

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