Java vs. JavaScript – The Right Choice for Digitalization

In our era of mass digitalization, technologies with less complexity and shorter development cycles will be the right choice for successful IT companies. Which programming language fits those needs better – Java or JavaScript?

Today, IT companies are competing heavily and striving hard to increase their share through the digitalization of processes. In order to drive the production of better and faster solutions and become more profitable and successful, they need to employ the right methodologies and use the right development tools. Especially in IT business, where trends are frequently changing, the adoption of emerging technologies can be one of the key factors to success. This leads IT companies to constantly ask themselves which technologies and tools are right for their future requirements.

Over the years, Java has established itself as one of the major development platforms for web, mobile and especially enterprise solutions and become one of the key players. However, in the last few years some new technologies have emerged and become serious competitors – especially JavaScript-based development frameworks. JavaScript has transformed itself from a merely client-side scripting language to a complete application development platform. Today, JavaScript-based frameworks can be used to develop any type of solution, whether mobile, web or enterprise.

A Brief History

Both Java and JavaScript were introduced to the software development world in 1995/6. The statically typed and completely object-oriented programming language Java was mostly used to develop platform-independent desktop and enterprise applications. JavaScript, in contrast, had the sole intention of introducing interactivity in webpages and making websites more responsive. At that time, the two programming languages had nothing in common except for the name and the syntax. Some critics even called JavaScript the dumb brother of Java.

As the concept of web applications emerged and gained popularity in the following years, JavaScript established itself as the key player on the client side. Together with HTML and CSS, it became one of the three core technologies for the world wide web. With the introduction of JavaScript-based client-side technologies like Ajax and jQuery, its popularity increased even more.

In the meantime, Java established itself as the major server-side programming language. Java-based server-side technologies like Servlet and JSP gained popularity in the generation of dynamic content. After tier-based architectures for web and enterprise applications have been introduced, Java-based middleware technologies like EJB became the standard component for enterprise applications. In summary: JavaScript was popular on the client side, while Java was mainly considered a server-side technology. But that all changed with the introduction of Node.js.

What Is Node.js?

Invented and introduced by Ryan Dahl in 2009, Node.js could basically be described as a runtime environment for JavaScript. Through its availability for all platforms, it makes JavaScript-based solutions platform-independent. With Node.js, JavaScript can be used to develop modular, highly performant and scalable server-side applications. Node.js is completely open source and was developed by extension of the Google Chrome V8 JavaScript engine.

Learning from the experiences of past development technologies, Node.js comes with a set of core modules and a large ecosystem of tools and libraries called node package manager (npm). This enables the easy sharing, finding, installing and updating of the open source node modules. Within a few years, this ecosystem has become the largest source of open source modules and packages, thus surpassing Java and other open source technologies.

 

Comparison of open source modules
Comparison of open source modules (source: http://www.modulecounts.com/)

Deciding Factors

In our era of mass digitalization, the time to market is considered as one of the most important factors to success. IT companies are striving hard to bring their solutions to market faster in order to attract more customers, get a higher return on investment and consequently be more profitable.

Despite their many advantages, it is well know that Java-based solutions also come with a great complexity, resulting in longer development cycles and thus increasing the time to market. This is the reason why Java is gradually losing its attraction for small to medium-sized and even larger projects. In contrast, the adoption of Node.js in enterprise environments is rising due to its scalability, performance, and short development cycles.

Less Complexity and Shorter Development Cycles

In times when the RAD methodology (Rapid Applications Development) is driving the development process, tools that can keep pace are required. Those with less complexity and shorter development cycles will therefore be the right choice for successful IT companies. Fact is: JavaScript – once merely considered Java’s dumb brother – is now emerging as one of its main competitors and is heavily challenging Java in the enterprise world.

 

Bildquelle: Shutterstock

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