Guide


A Helpful Guide for Beginners: Python vs C++

By Rachel Meltzer
Last Updated November 10, 2021

Python and C++ are both object-oriented programming languages, but the similarities end there! We’re comparing these two languages – covering examples of how Python and C++ are used in the real world, how they are used in today’s tech ecosystem, and which language is best for beginners. Plus, learn about free C++ resources and Python bootcamps where you can master these languages.

What is Python and what is C++?

C++ is an object oriented cross-platform programming language based on the programming language, C. It’s mostly used for low-level programming like operating systems, native applications, high-performance applications, and games. 

Python is an interpreted, cross-platform, object-oriented programming language. It’s primarily used for web development, software development, scripting, cybersecurity, math and science. 

What sets C++ apart from Python?

Similarities:

  • C++ and Python general-purpose object-orientated programming languages. 
  • Both Python and C++ support inheritance. 
  • Each programming language has a robust community of support from other programmers. 

Differences:

  1. Python’s syntax is designed to be readable for native English speakers. This can also make it more succinct. It requires less lines of code while C++ is verbose, has a complex syntax, and often requires larger amounts of code. C++ relies on curly brackets to work while Python mainly focuses on the indentation of the code. The end of line is simply the end of a statement in Python while C++ uses a semicolon to notate the end of a statement. 
  2. Python supports garbage collection, or automatic memory management, which can make its applications take up less storage space. C++ on the other hand does not support garbage collection. Garbage collection can consume CPUs, slowing down an application. It can also make applications like games malfunction as stored states are a must in those scenarios. 
  3. C++ is pre-compiled which can make it faster. Python uses an interpreter to speak to the computer, which can make it slower in massive applications. 
  4. Python is dynamically typed, which means that you do not need to indicate the type of the object. But C++ requires a type indication – it’s statically-typed. 

How Python and C++ Are Used By Developers

  • Web and Internet development (e.g., Django and Pyramid frameworks, Flask and Bottle micro-frameworks)
  • Scientific and numeric computing (e.g., SciPy – a collection of packages for the purposes of mathematics, science, and engineering; Ipython – an interactive shell that features editing and recording of work sessions)
  • Education (it’s a brilliant language for teaching programming!)
  • Desktop GUIs (e.g., wxWidgets, Kivy, Qt)
  • Software Development (build control, management, and testing – Scons, Buildbot, Apache Gump, Roundup, Trac)
  • Business applications (ERP and e-commerce systems – Odoo, Tryton)
  • Games (e.g., Battlefield series, Sid Meier\’s Civilization IV…), websites and services (e.g., Dropbox, UBER, Pinterest, BuzzFeed…)

Examples of typical C++ projects

  • Operating Systems – MacOS, Windows, iOS
  • Game Development – World of Warcraft, Counter-strike, and StarCraft. Game engines, Unreal Engine, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch
  • Internet of Things – televisions, cars, smartwatches, medical devices, appliances, and more. 
  • Databases – MySQL, MongoDB
  • Web Browsers – Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, opera
  • Machine Learning – TensorFlow
  • Virtual Reality – Unreal Engine
  • Scientific Research – NASA, CERN
  • Financial Technology – trading, banking, financial modeling, etc.
  • Flight Software – military aircraft & commercial jets
  • Google Search Engine
  • Medical Technology – MRI machines, data modeling
  • Telecommunications – telephone, internet, and telecom infrastructure
  • Movie Production – special effects

The Disadvantages of Python

Python is an interpreted language, it’s dynamically typed, and it supports garbage collection. All three of these features make Python slower than C++ and require more memory. Dynamically typed languages can also lead to runtime errors if developers don’t properly test their applications.

This language doesn’t do well with mobile development. It’s best used for server-side programming. 

Python can be insecure and have limitations when it comes to database access. It’s not the best choice for complex legacy database applications.

The Disadvantages of C++

In some cases, C++’s main disadvantage is its lack of garbage collection. But in some circumstances, like video games, this is actually an advantage. 

C++ has a complex syntax that can be difficult for beginners. 

Due to the amount of code needed to create C++ applications, it’s difficult to create rapid prototypes with this language. Python, on the other hand, excels in this area – especially with the addition of its myriad libraries and frameworks. 

Pointers make C++ insecure. Pointers can result in system failure or memory corruption. Debugging pointers is one of the most difficult aspects of learning C++. 

Should I Learn Python or C++ first? 

Is there a better language for beginners? 

Python is by far the easier language for beginners. It’s designed to be easy, intuitive, and fun while maintaining the power of its competitor languages. The Python community is robust with plenty of free tutorials, as well. Python is a great first language to learn and has a massive online community to help you on your learning journey. 

How to Learn Python and C++

Ready to get your feet wet and try out Python or C++? You can take a free online tutorial before you fully commit to a bootcamp. If you’re ready to change careers, check out the bootcamps below.

Online tutorials

Bootcamps that teach Python and/or C++

C++

Python

About The Author

Rachel Meltzer is a freelance writer who loves writing about career transitions, tech, and the outdoors. She helps adventurous people tell their stories on her podcast and coaches new freelance writers. She was born and raised in New England and currently lives in North Carolina.

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