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Java vs. Ruby: Which Language Should I Use for Web App Development?

by Pranisha Rai
Java vs. Ruby Which Language Should I Use for Web App Development
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Ruby and Java are both object-oriented languages. So, what’s the difference between them, you might ask? The difference lies in the way they execute their code. If you’re familiar with Java, then you must be pretty much aware of Java virtual machine code, i.e., JVM. Unlike other programming languages, Java translates its code into JVM, which makes its code execute faster than Ruby. Ruby code is translated line by line, which results in slower execution. 

However, there are still over 67% of professional developers who prefer Ruby over Java. The reason is that it has fewer lines of code, which attracts many developers. Likewise, many high-traffic site users prefer Java over Ruby. Since the languages share some commonalities, they differ in properties and usage. Also, when combined, these languages complement each other. Today, in this article, we will explore which language to choose for web app development.

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Is Java still in demand?

Since Java has been around for 29 years, the language is still in demand and thriving. To have a solid understanding of the language, you must be aware of its features. We have covered all the details in Java in the following link, What is Java and What is it used for?” and gain deeper insight. Now let’s have a closer look at its features: 

Features of Java

  • Fully Object-Oriented Programming (OOP): Java supports OOP features that consist of inheritance, polymorphism, abstraction, and encapsulation. This feature promotes code reusability, modularity, and scalability. 
  • Platform Independent: Unlike other programming languages, Java code is compiled into byte code and executed via the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), which makes Java platform independent. Thus, the same Java program can be executed on multiple platforms, such as Windows, iOS, Linux, and Unix. 
  • Safe and Secure: Java features such as typechecking at compile time and run time in its runtime environment, JVM, add safety to its program. Also, it doesn’t use the concept of pointers, which further increases its security. 
  • Robust Memory Management: Whenever the objects are not used in the program, Java automatically gets rid of those objects. Apart from this, exception handling and different types of checking techniques contribute to the language’s robustness. 
  • Portable: Java byte code can easily be transferred to any platform without any implementation. 
  • Multi-threading Program: This feature helps developers build highly interactive and responsive applications that tackle multiple tasks at once. It also shares a common memory, which increases the performance of the program. 
  • Distributed Nature: Java’s distributed nature allows sharing of data and programs among multiple computers over the internet. As a result, Java programmers can access the methods by calling them from any machine over the internet. Besides, Java supports Remote Method Invocation (RMI), socket programming, and COBRA, which add flexibility in sharing objects in a distributed environment. 
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What is Ruby?

Yukihiro Matsumoto envisioned scripting languages with object-oriented language features that don’t interact with the hardware directly. This is how Ruby came into existence in the mid-90s. It is an open-source, reflective, and general-purpose language. Using Ruby, developers can build static websites, automation tools, and web servers.

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What are the features of Ruby?

On GitHub, Ruby has over 21.3K stars and 5.5K repositories. And there are over 400,000 websites that use Ruby. If you want to uncover more about Ruby, then head to the following link: Ruby vs Ruby on Rails. Now, let’s have a look at its features below:

  • Interpreted Language: Ruby doesn’t have to go through the compilation process like in Java. Its interpreter interprets the code line-by-line and then translates it into machine language. 
  • Object-Oriented Programming: Unlike Java, Ruby treats data types like strings, numbers, or even boolean values, and almost everything else as objects. 
  • Automatic Memory Management: With this feature, developers don’t have to manually deallocate the memory or worry about memory leaks. Its garbage collector takes care of it without any risk of crashes. 
  • Dynamic Typing: Developers don’t need to explicitly declare the variables. This flexible approach promotes swift adaptability. 
  • RubyGems: It streamlines the workflow and keeps updated with the latest version of libraries. 
  • Automated Testing: Ruby provides a testing framework, i.e., Minitest and RSpec. These frameworks provide top-notch quality and speed up the development process. 

  These features reiterate that Ruby has a strong emphasis on simplicity. On the other hand, Java has more comprehensive and robust features. Also, Ruby’s code interprets line-by-line, which causes slower executions, whereas Java’s code gets converted to bytecode, which enhances the speed of the program. 

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A glance at the similarities between Ruby and Java

Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)Java is a pure OOP language; thus, the structure of the code is based on classes and objects.Ruby is also an OOP language, but unlike Java, it treats everything as an object.
SecurityBytecode verification and security manager spot the defects quickly.It provides high-security frameworks, Devise, Brakeman, bundler-audit, Tarantula, and many more.
MultithreadingDone parallelly using CPU coresIt can be achieved concurrently.
FrameworkThe Spring framework helps Java developers with rapid development and offers a seamless database connection. It is one of the best Java frameworks for developing enterprise applications.Ruby on Rails is one of the best frameworks, with features like database integration, routing, and rapid development.
Libraries and ToolsJava has a vast ecosystem that is brimming with frameworks and libraries for diverse domains.RoR Gems has extensive collections that provide developers with the convenience of integrating into projects and leveraging existing code.
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Ruby vs. Java: Which programming language to choose in 2024?

Ruby’s efficiency in development with a few lines of code attracts many developers towards it. On the other hand, according to the GitHub ranking, Java is ranked on the 2nd position in the world of programming. Using Java, you can pretty much build any application. Ruby’s dynamic nature, concise, and expressive code make it best suited for startups and small projects. Also, if you want to make frequent functionality changes in a project in a concise timeframe with fast delivery to market, Ruby is your best bet. You can choose Java over Ruby, if you’re working on an application with a complex architecture that needs a high volume of security products. 

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Key differences between Ruby and Java

PerformanceSlower than JavaBetter than Ruby
CommunityRuby’s community is also large but not like Java; it’s relatively smaller than Java, but its community is friendly to beginners.The Java community is much larger than Ruby’s.
Code CompilationProgrammers need to compile the code, then wait for the compilation to get over. After that, you can find and fix the bugs. This takes some additional time.Ruby programmers can edit and run code. One added advantage of being interpreted in a language is that you can easily handle complex tasks in a few steps, regardless of your experience. No compilation is required; run the code directly and check the output. Simple!
FrameworksRuby on Rails is one of the best frameworks among all and most widely used.Java also has many frameworks, but among all, Spring is mostly preferred over others.
Ease of DevelopmentIn Ruby, fewer lines of code make it often easier than more traditional object-oriented languages like Java. All thanks to its libraries and friendly community.Java code is heavier than Ruby and more complicated. It requires more time for the programmer to write and compile.
Use caseRuby’s clean syntax, gems, and pre-made solutions make it perfect for startups, e-commerce, and fast prototyping.Java’s Enterprise Edition Platform—a set of specifications and the Micro Edition Platform—makes it the ideal solution for creating enterprise and mobile applications.
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In conclusion: Which language should I use for web app development?

While making the ultimate choice between Ruby and Java, you should carefully consider your project’s specific needs, scope, and developer preferences. Ruby is undoubtedly the best choice for prototyping and projects that require frequent changes in elements. Java, on the other hand, has great strengths in adaptability. Using Java, you can build sophisticated applications. But to make your task simpler, here are the best use cases of Java that you can choose to develop the project: 

  • If you have memory-intensive specifications, big data requirements, and a complex architecture, then Java is the best choice. 
  • Without a doubt, Java is best for building enterprise applications. 
  • Or if you’re building a large project that needs high scalability, Java’s strong emphasis on design patterns and static typing makes it an ideal choice. 
  • And if you’re working on mobile development, Java is the official language for Android. 
  • Using Servlets and Java Server Pages (JSP), you can build server-side applications. 

And you can choose Ruby over Java if you’re working on the following projects: 

  • If you are in startups and small-scale projects with limited resources that focus on agility, Ruby is your savior. 
  • For rapid development and a faster time to market, then use Ruby along with the Ruby on Rails framework. This will accelerate the development process. 
  • If you’re building e-commerce sites, the Ruby on Rails framework and Ruby Gems will provide great scalability, reliability, and secure payments with numerous concurrent users. 

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Ruby is more responsive than Java and provides a better user experience. Due to this, many developers prefer Ruby for web development. 

Prominent companies like ZenDesk, Twitch, SoundCloud, Apple, Shopify, GitHub, Hulu, and Urban Dictionary use Ruby. 

Java compiles code into bytecode, and Ruby interprets its code line by line, which results in slower execution speeds than Java. 

Since Ruby and Java are OOP languages and widely used for building dynamic applications, when combined, they offer benefits like seamless cross-platform compatibility, smooth integration into Ruby applications, easy deployment, improved performance through Java-optimized techniques, and a direct gateway to Java’s huge ecosystem. Using JRuby, you can form a great fusion of these two languages. 

Ruby is an object-oriented programming language. 

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