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javavsnetLearning the ins and outs of software engineering, you are introduced to a wide range of options for languages and frameworks. And if you have been looking to learn development for large-scale applications, you have likely narrowed your decision down to a couple of the major players commonly deployed in that category. Often, programmers make the decision between .Net and Java for these types of projects, depending on certain criteria.

Ideally, it would be great to get a handle on both. And many application development teams do, in fact, employ both Java and .NET architectures for different parts of a software solution. However, not wanting to bite off too much at once, you might be trying to decide which one you should jump in to first.

So this guide will take a look at some of the ways these frameworks vary and in what kinds of situations each might work best for.  If you would like a deeper dive into learning about different development options and how to employ them in your program development, you might be interested in taking a course on breaking in to the programming business.


Before we get in to the differences that will help you decide where to go with your programming education, let’s take a look at how .NET and Java are fundamentally similar.

Rapid Application Development (RAD)

Both Java and .NET are geared toward the RAD programming approach. By simplifying the development process with a set of visual tools and offering standard components, both languages allow programmers to focus on business logic rather than more fundamental services.

Object Oriented Languages

Both .NET and Java support object-oriented programming languages. If you are unfamiliar with this terminology, it is a type of language that uses objects, most often instances of classes, in interaction with one another to design programs. You can get a better grip on this concept and how it stands in relation to other programming types in an online course in programming fundamentals.

Made for tiered applications

Both of these languages are designed for multi-tiered programs, such as three-tiered programs involving a client, server, and database. They contain features that simplify processing within this kind of set-up.

Additional points of similarity

Their are additional areas where Java and .NET have similarities. For instance, both derive from the C and C++ languages. They are both type-safe, and each has standard processes for dealing with web and remote resources as well as web-related languages. Finally, both are sufficiently modern, supporting application development for portable devices and recent web development technologies.

While this may not be a comprehensive list of every similarity between the two development types, these categories should give you the big picture of how both Java and .NET can be deployed similarly for large-scale applications.


Of course, for all of the similarities between Java and .NET, there are as many differences. And it is in these points of differentiation that you might hone in on which particular framework to focus on. So with that, let’s take a look.

Language support

Developing within the J2EE Java framework, one is limited to the Java programming language. This, of course, simplifies your selection of languages to learn if you are interested in this development framework.  On the other hand, .NET offers support for multiple language types.  Among these are C#, F#, and VB.net. Further, there is opportunity to rewrite additional programs for the .NET framework.

Platform support

Whereas .NET is language independent, Java can be said to be platform independent to a greater degree. Now, technically, it is important to consider that both frameworks are platform independent.  There are open-source implementations of Microsoft’s framework that allow for easy creation of cross-platform programs to be run on multiple platforms.  However, in general, programs written for the .NET framework are typically designed for Windows computers.

Java, in contrast, is designed for easy portability, allowing programs to run on any platform without a need for rewriting.  The trade-off, in the opinion of some programmers, is that .Net can run more quickly and smoothly on Windows computers.

Development and innovation

Because .NET is developed solely by Microsoft, it is that company that will handle all of the innovation for the framework, where as the open-source nature of Java means that many third-party vendors compete to offer applications and tools that bring forth new innovation.

Further considerations for choosing a framework

So, you have the similarities and differences of two development frameworks.  However, you might still be wondering how you should go about making a decision on which one to start getting familiar with.  For that reason, let’s draw out some implications and consider some additional factors that you might want to weigh in.

1. If you already know a language, that might help you with your decision.  The .NET framework being language independent, many develop for it in VB.net and other languages. It’s language neutrality might make it a good starting point for you.

That being said, if you want to develop for .NET, it could be very much to your benefit to learn C#, as this language is in high demand and will do well in moving you in to a programming position. You can easily get started on the language in an online course in C#.

Of course, if you want to develop for the Java framework, you will need to know Java.

2. The operating system question is important. Consider that developing  for .NET will essentially mean you will be using Windows for development and running applications. Java will give you more flexibility in this category.  On the other hand, since it’s open-source nature drives more innovation from third parties, you might spend more time getting to know new integrated development environments and new tools.

3. Consider some stats. According to Forrester research, Java is used more widely at large companies with 20,000+ employees, while .NET is more common at small companies with 5,000 employees or less. Additionally, more web pages are currently developed with .NET than Java.

4.  Java is the language used for Android development, and you can learn the language specifically for that purpose in a course on Android Development with Java.


There are, no doubt, additional factors you will want to consider when deciding between .NET and Java frameworks.  However, hopefully this brief guide gave you some factors to help you choose a direction.  With either option you choose, your success in learning the framework will open you up to lots of possibilities and opportunities in your programming career.

Page Last Updated: December 2013

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