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JavaScript vs C++: 3 Factors To Choose Which Is Best For You

By Zulie Rane on Jan 22, 2022

Every coder is told to learn JavaScript, seeing that it’s the foundation of the world wide web. And… every coder is taught that C++ is one of the most useful modern coding languages to learn. So no matter if you’re brand new to the coding world, or you have a few languages under your belt, you might be wondering whether you should tackle JavaScript vs C++ for your first (or next) language.

JavaScript was the first language I was taught in eighth grade, if you can believe it! Today, I’m a huge fan of it as a language for beginners. I created the classic hello world website and was ecstatic to see how I could make my basic page change colors and fonts with a few keystrokes. Meanwhile, I first brushed up against C++ more recently when I was investigating the engine behind one of my favorite videogames, Hades. (Hades is built on C, of which C++ is an extension. There’s a whole other article that could be written about C vs JavaScript, or another of its variants, C# versus JavaScript.)

Like in so many cases when comparing coding languages, the winner between JavaScript vs C++ depends entirely on what you want and where you are as a developer. Rather than pretend to give a definitive answer to the question, I’ll provide you with the context to understand the right decision for you.

This article will contain a brief overview of the differences and history of JavaScript vs C++, cover the advantages and disadvantages of each, and end by discussing career options and job prospects. After that, it’s up to you.

Basic differences between JavaScript and C++

In short, JavaScript versus C++ is a question of beginner versus advanced, simple versus complex, quick versus fast (they’re different!), and usefully limited versus virtually unlimited.

Background on JavaScript

Everyone who’s ever been online has touched JavaScript at some point. JavaScript is the language that underpins 95% of the entire world wide web. Designed for creating network-centric applications, it’s a lightweight, interpreted programming language that’s good for beginners and stubborn eighth-graders to learn.

Quick note: It was born out of a desire to be Java-like, but Java is to JavaScript in 2021 like car is to carpet. They aren’t the same thing like I originally thought when I started learning about JavaScript.

JavaScript is easy to implement because it is integrated with HTML. You have all the tools to poke around with it on your laptop you’re reading this article on since it’s open and cross-platform.

Background of C++

Compare that to C++, which is a middle-level programming language developed by Bjarne Stroustrup starting in 1979 at Bell Labs. It runs on a variety of platforms, such as Windows, Mac OS, and the various versions of UNIX. It’s a sort of extension of C, as I mentioned above. It’s considered “C with classes,” hence the name C++.

JavaScript vs C++ History

To summarize, I could tell you everything you need to know by simply saying that JavaScript is a “scripting” language whereas C++ is a “programming” language. Scripting languages make coding easier and faster because they run inside another existing program. Programming languages, at least in this context, are made to make full-fledged code and software development easier. You can feed lines from a programming language directly to a computer and it’ll do what you want it to do.

Advantages and disadvantages of JavaScript vs C++

I want to start by saying that both languages are truly fantastic in terms of support and community. Because they’ve both been around for such a long time, there’s a robust group of folks, both experts and novices, who hang out on Discord groups, Slack channels, Reddit threads, StackOverflow answers. There are textbooks, tutorials, walkthroughs, guides, and generally more content to teach you either C++ or JavaScript than you could consume in a lifetime of learning.

But beyond learning, there are some places where JavaScript shines over C++ and vice versa.

js vs c++

JavaScript Advantages

Let’s start with the advantages of JavaScript versus C++. JavaScript is easy to teach to distractible 14-year-olds for a reason, right? It’s a script you feed into another program, so there’s an interpretive layer between your code and what it does. It’s much more human to read and write JavaScript.

There’s also a good deal more cushioning. All browsers can run JavaScript, so you’ve got a built-in window for development. You can also dynamically change what kind of data variables contain at any time, unlike C++. As a result, When you write some JavaScript code, you get started running it and testing it more quickly. To understand what I mean by that, you need to know what the difference is between runtime and compile time. Compile-time is when your code is converted into binary code so a machine can read it. Runtime happens after that, and it’s when your program is actually running.

JavaScript is dynamically typed, which means variables are assigned at runtime. You don’t have to declare what your variable is before you assign it a value. C++ is statically typed, and as a result, the code is type-checked at compile time. This means it’s slower to get going… you have to pre-compile C++ code before you can run it. If there are language errors, C++ won’t run at all until you fix it.

For more reading (which I recommend!) check out Oracle’s help doc on the subject.

JavaScript has a loose programming style. If you mess up, there’s some grace around how errors are handled. C++ comparatively is more old-school, where you need all your curly brackets and semi-colons precisely in place. It’s rigid whereas JavaScript is flexible.

who would win

C++ Advantages

But there are places where C++ excels compared to JavaScript. For one, once the code is compiled, C++ is much faster than JavaScript, often more than ten times faster. Once your C++ code has been compiled once, you’re ready to rock and roll. C++’s runtime is so much faster because JavaScript still needs the interpreter to do loads of stuff before it’s readable by the machine every single time it runs.

C++ is more of a computational heavyweight as well. It’s built to do some pretty chunky calculations. Lightweight can be good in some cases, but in other instances, you do want a language that can handle the hard stuff. This is what makes C++ (and its variants, like C and C#) so good at doing pretty much… anything. It can do these rapid-fire calculations that are necessary for gaming or landing the moon. In terms of C++ vs javascript performance, there’s really no comparison.

Career/Job Prospects of JavaScript vs C++

To summarize, it’s easier to get a JavaScript job versus a C++ job for most developers at the moment. The salaries for both are high, but knowing C++ will likely get you a higher one. C++ is often a late-stage career path, while JavaScript opens you up to a ton of potential early on, due to it being easier for beginners to pick up.

Salary

If you are a JavaScript developer, you can count on an average salary of $106k in the United States, according to Indeed. If you’re lucky enough to live in Hartford, CT, you might be lucky enough to earn up to $155k per year!

As a C++ developer, your average salary will be higher, clocking in at $113k annually according to Indeed. Some companies, like Selby Jennings, are willing to pay $220k per year to get a good C++ developer.

Career Prospects

Once you’ve secured that first job in JavaScript, you can transition into a lot of other professions, like becoming a front-end and back-end web developer, a mobile app developer, or even a machine learning engineer.

C++, meanwhile, gives you options like becoming a software engineer, a video game developer, or even a DevOps engineer. Pretty much anything that requires that heavy, fast computation is a good job option for a C++ developer.

Conclusion: C++ vs JavaScript

Just like I promised, there’s no conclusive answer here. But hopefully, throughout the course of reading this article, you’ve said to yourself, “OK, clearly, JavaScript is the better one for me right now.” Or maybe you’ve mused, “When comparing JavaScript vs C++, C++ is the right choice for me.”

In short, JavaScript is faster to learn and pick up. It’s obviously great for web stuff. There are plenty of simple courses to teach you the basics of JavaScript. C++ is better for more experienced programmers, and it takes longer to learn. It’s harder to learn and slower to get started with. But once you get going? It’s far more versatile and the code runs faster. C++ can also do some pretty impressive things, like run your favorite video game.

Plus there’s no end. Plenty of folks get started learning C++ after JavaScript, and there are a number of tutorials about learning JavaScript for C++ programmers. Both are awesome languages, and no matter which one you learn between C++ vs JavaScript, they’ll take you far.

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