Engineering

Golang vs. Java: Which Language To Use for Your Next Project

6 min read

Golang vs. Java compare and contrast two notoriously fast, back-end programming languages that can take your latest software project to the next level. 

Java has been around for quite some time, curating its position as a powerhouse in the software industry for back-end development. 
But Golang is fairly new, meaning its modern quirks can curb any classic frustrations that developers face with old programming languages. 

So which one will it be? Find out more about Golang and Java right now!

What Is Go?

Go, often stylized as Golang, is a statically typed, compiled, multi-purpose programming language. 

Memory safety, garbage collection, structural typing, and concurrency, are a handful of Go’s greatest assets.
Following? Maybe not. Rather than send you off to Google in a hurried frenzy, take a look at this breakdown of Go’s technical makeup:

 

  • Static typing — a programming language characteristic where variable types are explicitly declared, leaving less room for runtime errors  
     
  • Compiled — refers to any programming language where source code is translated directly into machine code, lending to faster runtimes
     
  • Memory safety — a reference to programming languages that have strong protections against bugs and security vulnerabilities 
     
  • Garbage collection — a function that encourages memory safety by automatically deleting objects from memory that can no longer be referenced  
     
  • Structural typing — a class of type systems where the language determines if a variable is equivalent to a certain variable type based on context, saving developers the time of naming the equivalency
     
  • Concurrency — the ability of a program to perform multiple tasks at once

Now that the technical details are out of the way, you might want to know what the heart of Go really is. But first, you need to know where Go came from. 

Golang was designed by Google in late 2007 as a response to older languages that could not handle mass amounts of code, networking, and multi-core processing. 

For that reason, Go’s syntax is concise, allowing for readability and usability. Syntactically, Go mirrors C more than any other language. 

And Go’s multi-purpose capacity means the language can be used for a variety of applications. 

To boot, several elements of the language’s architecture promote its usage in networking and multiprocessing use cases. 

In short, Go is designed for people who want to build bigger and better software.

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Related reading: Golang vs. Rust

What Is Java?

Java is a class-based, general-purpose, object-oriented programming language. 

Its design philosophies centers a write once, run anywhere (WORA) paradigm, along with loose coupling. 

Now, here’s what that means in English:

  • Object-oriented — a programming paradigm where reusable code can be written and manipulated using intuitive objects with accompanying attributes and methods
  • Class-based — a feature of object-oriented programming (OOP) where objects in a class can inherit traits of the class (e.g. a specific car under the class car inherits a coded behavior for driving)
  • WORA — an epithet denoting Java is cross-platform; the language can run on any system with a Java Virtual Machine (JVM), including smartcards, TVs, and mobile phones (given Android development)
  • Loose coupling — an approach to programming where fewer dependencies is the ultimate objective, allowing different program components to work independently without jeopardizing other code

Like most languages, the perks of Java stem from the shortcomings of earlier languages. In 1995, many of the frustrations that ultimately engendered Java came from C. 

First, C was decidedly low-level, meaning that communication between human users and the computer machine needed to be lengthy and complex to make an impact.

C also wasn’t particularly portable. Portability here alludes to a language’s multi-platform compatibility. 
Because C was not designed to be highly portable, cross-platform use was non-existent and the language was limited to PCs. 

Java rose from the ashes of C (although take note that C is still in frequent use). And now it is one of the fastest and most scalable programming languages there is.

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Golang vs. Java: Side-by-Side Comparison 

Both Go and Java are high-performing server-side languages, that — for one reason or another — have some relationship to C. But which language should you choose for your next project? 

Check out this side-by-side comparison to see how Java and Go compare. 

Performance 

In spite of Java’s reputation for being fast, Go surpasses Java in speed for almost every metric

Java’s lacking in this category is largely because of its virtual machine, which is critical to Java compilation. 

In addition, this feature permits Java to run on almost any platform, no doubt a desirable trait. 

Still, Go has the advantage here. Fast languages mean easier testing and better user experiences. 

Ironically, Go runs so fast because it functions much like C. Running a program means Go compiles your code into machine code before directly executing the program

Go’s memory management also plays into its speed. With automatic garbage collection, there’s no pause when it comes to dealing with extraneous object references.  
In contrast, Java’s memory management is similar but more traditional. Java has memory protections too, but its garbage collection method pails in comparison to Go. 

Winner: Go — When comparing Golang vs. Java for speed and performance, Go is in the lead due to its refined features. 

Features 

Both Java and Golang have treasured features that any developer can appreciate. 

Java, for one, is object-oriented, making it a good fit for complex projects. 

OOP, by definition, elicits code reusability and maintenance as well as an overall better developer experience. 

Through OOP, Java also offers reflection, where code can introspect on itself during runtime as a means of error checking. 

Unfortunately, Go isn’t object-oriented so it does not extend inheritance or reflection in the traditional sense, and ultimately this makes Go less flexible than Java. 

On the other hand, one of Go’s primary features is garbage collection. Though Java has garbage collection too, it’s not quite as impressive. 

Memory safety can be just as important as OOP when it comes to managing large codebases, so Go does have some skin in the game. 

Of course, the most outstanding feature of Go is its concurrency. 

Goroutines are a feature of Go where functions or methods can run concurrently with other functions and methods. 

Java has multithreading capabilities that make for a similar effect, but in Java, this feature is far more primitive than in Go. 

Winner: Go — Though Java lends programmers OOP, a fan-favorite, Go is far more robust with its feature-set. 

Community 

Java is a veteran in comparison to Go. Ergo, it should come as no surprise that Java outdoes Go in terms of popularity. 

It’s worth mentioning that Java is tied to Sun Microsystems, a major technology company back in the day. 

At this point in time, Java was the most widely used severe-side language there was.  

Today, you’re likely to see Java compete with Python for that title, but Java still has a bigger community when Go is its opponent. 

In fact, Go doesn’t get much attention at all aside from its small developer community. 

It’s a shame because Go has a lot of business prospects. Naturally, Google is using Go. But did you know Uber uses Go for its back-end?

Fortunately, the community Go does have is supportive and passionate, and that is often the case with niche languages that don’t get the credit they deserve. 

You can bet Java’s community is likewise supportive and passionate. And there are many upsides to being a popular programming language. 

For one, there are more developers to choose from if you need to hire Java developers. Or, once you have Java developers on lock, they can look to the Java community for feedback and advice. 

Winner: Java — Java rules the playground in Go vs. Java; it’s age and origins make the language superbly popular. 

Usage

The syntax of Go is unique, to say the least, but in a good way. The language itself is easy to read and write for English speakers.

But more importantly, there are a total of 25 keywords in the Go language for representing predefined actions and performing internal processes. 

Needless to say, Go is easy to work with. Go’s library is also pretty small so sifting through it is a breeze. 

And unlike most programming languages, Go’s syntax does away with brackets, parentheses, and those cumbersome colons programmers would often need to put at the end of lines. 

To sum things up, Go is an imperative language. It just wants to get things done. 

The advantage of this for developers is that using Go is fairly simple. But the downfall is that Go’s lack of complexity means dependency is inevitable. 

In turn, Java is a declarative language. There’s more room to be expressive. Using Java requires a developer’s full attention. 

But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Flexibility and loose coupling, for example, are desirable merits of working with a more complicated syntax. 

Winner: None — In Go vs. Java for usage, the better language depends on your needs and what suits your project best. There is no clear winner here. 

Application

Although both Java and Go are server-side languages, their server-side applications largely differ. 

As established, the JVM makes it so that Java can be used anywhere with little to no trouble. 

Java is truly a cross-platform language. Go, in contrast, markets itself as a cross-platform language, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that there is some nuance to this claim. 

For instance, Go compiles code into a binary file for any given platform. But the machine must create a binary file every time you compile code for a single platform. 

In this way, Go does have some platform-dependency where Java is otherwise independent. 

Compiling the separate binary files for each platform is no doubt time-consuming. 

If high portability is your goal, Java is probably your best pick. 

As an illustration of Java’s portability, consider that Java is Android’s native language. This means that if you want to build Android apps, knowing Java is step one. 

To compare, Go shouldn’t be the first tool in your toolbox for developing a mobile app, but it might still belong somewhere in your tech stack if you want to optimize your back-end. 

That said, the concurrency in Go makes it a great option for machine learning, but only as an alternative for Python or Java when necessary. 
Winner: Java — In spite of Go’s modern features, Java is still more portable than Go in a number of circumstances.

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Conclusion

After running the count in your head, you may have just realized that there’s no objectively better language as far as the side-by-side comparison is concerned. 

In reality, this is often the case when comparing programming languages and other technologies. 

The most successful businesses find their ideal languages and frameworks, not by comparing them against each other, but by figuring out what their project needs and proceeding accordingly. 

With this in mind, if Java is the best fit for your needs, Trio has qualified Java developers, only a click away. 

→ Talk to us now to see about hiring Java developers!

However, if you’re looking for a faster and simpler language for your next project, Trio still has Go developers with plenty of experience meeting business needs. 

→  Let Trio know what you need and hire Go developers!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Go?

Go, often stylized as Golang, is a statically typed, compiled, multi-purpose programming language.

What is Java?

Java is a class-based, general-purpose, object-oriented programming language.

What are server-side languages used for?

Server-side languages like Go and Java are used for back-end development tasks like database management and building application programming interfaces.

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