Guide


Java vs C#: A Helpful Guide for Beginner Coders

By Liz Eggleston
Last Updated August 5, 2021

Java and C# are popular, powerful programming languages – anyone who has used the internet has probably heard of at least one of these. Other languages and frameworks may gain popularity over time, but Java and C# are still important staples that help keep the internet running. Myron Law, an instructor at Tech Elevator, answers all of our questions about the origins of these two languages, how they compare to each other, and how they are used in today’s tech ecosystem. Plus, Myron shares a couple of free resources for anyone starting to learn Java or C#!

Meet The Expert: Myron Law

  • Myron worked in finance before deciding to shift into technology with a post-bac program. It all started with a macro on trade terminals!
  • After working in tech for over 20 years, Myron decided to give back to the community by helping to train the next generation of developers at Tech Elevator. Myron says that out of all the coding bootcamps, he’s enamored with Tech Elevator’s culture and commitment to elevator people and communities.

What are Java and C#: The Similarities

  • Java and C# are both server-side, back end programming languages that are inspired by the C family of languages.
  • They are both object-oriented programming languages, meaning programs are centered around classes and objects to create applications. 
  • They are both robust languages that can scale and handle high-volume well.
  • They are compiled languages which allows them to typically run faster than a language like Python.
  • They are both high-level languages, so they are much easier for a programmer to write and maintain. 

Java vs C#: The Differences

  • Java is platform-independent and while C# is cross-platform with the emergence of the .NET Core framework, it has been generally used with Windows.
  • There are significant differences in the project structure and platform setup.
  • Java is owned by Oracle and C# is owned by Microsoft.
  • The development environment, naming conventions, and libraries you’ll use will differ substantially between C# and Java, but the underlying syntax is quite similar. 

Java and C# have a lot in common and while there are some differences, they are largely similar languages with regard to syntax. The biggest difference is in the toolsets or IDEs and configuration that are used to implement code. 

The Demand for Java Developers vs C# Developers

Java and C# still have a substantial user base and they are still some of the most widely used programming languages. You might think an older language would lose relevance, but Java and C# have seen steady growth as technology has become more prevalent in today’s society. 

Many large companies use C# or Java and some companies may even use both. Java and C# are still similar in many ways and the deciding factor of when they might be used is probably going to be a specific company’s preference.

While languages like JavaScript and popular JavaScript based frameworks have recently gained in popularity, there are tons of applications that  are still powered by Java and C#.  Angular, React, Vue – these frameworks are leveraged for the front-end – but the actual server side workhorse of many applications is in Java or C#. 

C# and Java Jobs You Can Land After Tech Elevator

The majority of our Tech Elevator grads are going to find jobs as Software Engineers, but they may also find work as Business Analysts, Data Analysts, and DevOps Engineers.

Our Java graduates also accept C# jobs (and vice-a-versa)! Some will also go on to work in Python – you get exposure to the foundations of programming. 

How are Java and C# Used in the Real World?

Already, I’ve seen Tech Elevator build productivity applications, medical billing, and travel applications for their Capstone Projects. Here are a few examples of real-world applications of the languages.

Examples of Java Projects

  • Financial institutions and stock trading companies commonly use Java due to its portability, safety features, and automatic garbage collection.
  • Google used Java to develop the Android operating system and Google Docs.
  • Embedded systems such as those found in appliances use Java.
  • Java is the base for many different big data tools.
  • Java is commonly used in mobile applications like Tinder and Netflix.
  • Java can also be used to create games and Minecraft was originally developed using it.

Examples of C# Projects

  • Unity is a popular game engine due to its ease of use and popular games such as Hollow Knight, Subnautica, Kerbal Space Program, and Genshin Impact were developed with Unity, which uses C#.
  • Many Windows applications like Microsoft Office, Skype, and Internet Explorer use C#.
  • Other applications include: Stack Overflow, GoDaddy, Ancestry,  Marketwatch
  • C# is widely used for developing mobile apps, web apps, and desktop apps.
  • C# can be used to program smart contracts on blockchain platforms.

What are some disadvantages of Java?

While Java certainly has its advantages, there are some common critiques that you may hear. Java uses a lot of memory since it uses a virtual machine to interpret bytecode files. Another complaint related to this is Java’s slow startup time. 

While Java is overall secure, its popularity has allowed people to find holes that can be exploited. Oracle, Java’s current owner, has had complaints that they allow these holes to exist for long periods of time with no fixes.

What are some disadvantages of C#?

C# is a compiled language that has its benefits, but it also has drawbacks. If a developer wants to change a code written in C#, they must recompile the code any time a change is made. Code can be finicky and each change has the potential to create new errors that must be fixed.

Should a Beginner learn C# or Java First?

Learning a programming language can be compared to learning to drive a car. There are many different types of cars and they all have their quirks. Some cars perform better offroad, some cars are built for luxury, and some cars are built for performance. 

When you learn to drive a car, it doesn’t matter what model you use for the most part. What matters is the foundational concepts like how to drive safely and signal other drivers. Programming is similar in that you’re learning the underlying skills as well as a specific language. 

Whether you learn Java, C#, or even another language at a bootcamp like Tech Elevator, the concepts you learn will allow you to pivot to learn other languages and frameworks. As a developer, you’ll need these skills since you’ll be facing new versions, languages, frameworks, technologies, and platforms. For example, at Tech Elevator, the foundation is based in Java and C#, but we also teach you the skills needed to become a full-stack developer. These skills include, JavaScript and client side frameworks as wellSQL database skills, etc. You’ll need to adapt and pick up as you go and Tech Elevator teaches in a way that facilitates and builds that foundation. 

Learning programming isn’t easy, but Java and C# are not overly difficult either. They have similar syntaxes, are very structured languages, and they’re both well documented. The communities are also supportive, which is important for beginners learning a new language.

But Really, Which Should I Learn First?

Flip a coin! Learn the foundations so that you can pivot in the future. 

Which Came First – Java or C#?

Java is older than C#, released in 1995 by a team led by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems. It was released as part of Sun Microsystem’s Java Platform in an effort to allow consumer electronic devices to communicate with each other. Java revolutionized programming and it is still a popular and largely used language today. Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle at the beginning of 2010 and Oracle has been in control of Java since.

C# was developed by Microsoft around 2002. It was created as part of the company’s .NET initiative. It was later approved by Ecma as an international standard. When it was first released, it was so similar to Java that James Gosling called it an imitation. While the two languages were very similar, they have diverged significantly into two separate and distinct languages. 

C# is generally used with Microsoft, but it’s possible to run code on other systems. Unlike Java, a programmer would need to rework the code to make this possible. C# is a popular option when it comes to developing games and several engines including Unity run on C#.

Write once, read anywhere (WORA)

Part of what makes Java so versatile is the fact that it’s code-independent. This means a programmer can write a code for a single system and it will be able to run on any other Java-enabled system without modification. This is possible because a program written in Java is first converted into a bytecode file which is then read by Java Virtual Machine on an enabled device. This feature is one of the reasons Java has remained popular for so long. 

Java’s principle of WORA is one of the reasons it was so popular on the internet. The ability to use the same code for different devices allowed developers to create web pages that could be accessed by different operating systems. This popularity led to Sun developing different varieties of Java for use in consumer machines, embedded devices, and internet servers. It’s important to note that while Java and JavaScript have similar names, they are not related. 

With creation of .NET Core, Microsoft has adopted a similar approach of compile once, run anywhere.  .NET Core is a cross-platform, open-source framework that allows C# developers to create applications that are system agnostic.

How to Learn Java or C#

W3Schools is an excellent online resource with free lessons in both Java and C#. It also has a wide variety of other topics related to coding and technology.

Freecodecamp.org is a resource with forums, courses, videos, and articles on a wide variety of topics, including C# and Java. as the name suggests, it’s free!

And of course, Tech Elevator teaches both Java and .NET/C# in our Coding Bootcamp. Check out free Student Resources to get started. 

Find out more and read Tech Elevator reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with Tech Elevator.

About The Author

Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!

Not sure what you're looking for?

We'll match you!

related posts


Alumni Spotlight


From IT Manager to Digital Nomad

How this Web Developer got her start with Ironhack!

Article


3 Signs you Should be a Data Analyst

There are 3 qualities that make successful data analysts – do you see any of these in yourself??

Guide


UX Design vs Web Design

A helpful guide to the differences between UX Design and Web Design!