Python is an open-source, general-purpose programming language that powers websites such as YouTube, Reddit, Pinterest, and Instagram. Python was one of the first technology stacks Google used to develop its search engine with. It's one of the most popular languages today, which finds excellent use in recent development trends such as machine learning.
C# – general information
C#, on the other hand, was developed by Microsoft as part of .NET. C# is a general-purpose programming language designed for the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI).
You'll find C# powering websites such as Stack Overflow and cutting-edge technologies such as Microsoft Hololens.
Both Python and C# are object-oriented, but while C# is fully object-oriented, developers can take advantage of Python to write procedural code too.
Moreover, Python is a dynamically-interpreted language, whereas C# is a statically-typed compiled language. That means the C# software will outperform Python in applications such as game engines but won’t beat Python's fast development time.
Read on to find out more about the critical differences between Python and C# to choose the language that fits your project best.
Open source traditions
In contrast to C#, which is part of the Microsoft universe and was not open-source until 2017, Python is open-source and available free of charge from the beginning. Its open-source community is bigger and has longer traditions. It is mostly based on the efforts of its passionate community, which keeps up many open-source initiatives to help the language evolve. C# used to be managed by Microsoft and takes advantage of its vast and resourceful ecosystem. Now, however, it also is open-source
Since C# operates in the Microsoft solutions ecosystem, you may choose to pay a premium to ensure that developers get help and emergency support from Microsoft experts whenever it's needed. Developers coding in Python can only count on the Python community – which is very helpful and passionate, but can't guarantee the same level of support.
Ease of use
One glance at the TIOBE index is enough to see that Python and C# go hand in hand as far as the popularity among developers is concerned. Developers like C# because of its design and origin in the object-oriented programming paradigm. Those who’ve had experience with Java can pick it up quickly – and it's a smart choice if they want to develop apps for Microsoft's platform because C# is deeply integrated with the .NET framework.
But there are some things developers can get done much quicker with Python, mostly because it's a dynamically typed language.
The basic syntax of Python requires the knowledge of fewer language constructions, while in C#, you just can't write a program without knowing what compilation, assemblies, namespaces, classes, and methods are (and many more!).
It's easier to learn Python iteratively. Developers can use an increasing number of features as they dive deeper into the language. In C#, that's not an option. Developers need to learn way more before they write their first line of code.
Consequently, a project in C# will require hiring developers who are already highly proficient in C#. Python developers can keep on learning new things and run quick tests on the go.
To write in C#, developers need to know a set of specialized tools such as Visual Studio .NET, Far, Redgate .NET Reflector, IIS, and many more (including plugins!). Python developers can get away with Vim/Emacs together with some standard Unix tools. In general, Python developers can take advantage of relatively simpler, but more generic development tools.
Dynamic vs. static
Python is a more dynamic language than C#. But what does that imply for your project?
When it comes to dynamic languages, the development process is relatively fast and easy. That's why they require the expertise of a team leader, who will oversee the process to make sure that developers build a robust and scalable application.
Since C# is a static language, it includes a build/compile step, which some developers aren't fond of. The build process adds a step to the entire development process and impacts its productivity. But the compiler also detects syntax errors before they become a problem.
C# may slightly beat Python in performance, but since it doesn't run on open-source technologies, it takes away these gains in the cost of infrastructure software.
C# might take fewer server resources for the same volume of concurrent users than Python, but you'll be paying Microsoft for these servers anyway.
Developers can improve Python's performance with PyPy's implementation of the JIT compiler. Writing and deploying code in C# is slower than in Python – the latter is known for its rapid development process, which it owes to its elegant syntax, dynamic nature, and the availability of libraries of pre-written code for easy reuse. All in all, developers are more productive in Python’s environment.
Wrap up: Python or C#?
If your project depends on high speed and performance, Python will be the optimal choice. It's easy to learn, it offers options for smooth cross-platform development, and provides developers with a wealth of useful open-source libraries that speed up the development process.
However, if your project requires excellent Microsoft integration, top performance, and reliance on a standard syntax and libraries, C# is a better choice.