When comparing Python and C# (CS, C-sharp), we must remember that these are both object-oriented, high-level programming languages that are relatively easy to learn and code. They offer rapid development, good performance and are applicable in most fields.
Which one to choose?
What is C#
C# is relatively young - barely over 20 years old. It was designed at Microsoft, and many developers (for some reason) just do not like Microsoft, and what comes next is that they do not appreciate the things coming out of Microsoft, like, for example, C#.
Whether it is rational or not, it does not change the fact that it is what it is; whether it is based on rumors or facts, it can take a lot of time to overcome such biases. And let’s remember that developers are a very demanding society group. It takes time to win their hearts and minds.
It was made as a modern alternative to C and C++. That is why C# seems a lot like these two languages (structurally), but with new, updated features, and because of that, the learning curve became way smoother than in C or C++.
C# relies on .NET and has a garbage collection, which means that C# is not the right choice for certain types of programming tasks like, for example, operating systems, device drivers, embedded systems with real-time requirements, or embedded systems with extremely constrained memory.
Yet, the funny thing is, that C# is used for some embedded applications that do not have real-time requirements via NETMF, Tiny CLR, etc.
C# is a good programming language. It is constantly growing and evolving to convince more developers to use it and meet their needs.
What is Python?
Python is an open-source, interpreted, and general-purpose programming language that evolved from ABC programming language.
Guido van Rossum started working on the development of this language in the late 1980s and released the first version of Python in 1991.
It has many advantages - primarily code readability, ease of programming, availability on the GPL license (even for commercial projects), access to a lot of libraries, garbage collection, and easy integration with many other languages and platforms using external modules from the Python Package Index (PyPI).
For more information, check out our “All you need to know about Python” guide.
Difference between Python and C#
We already have some information about the two languages so that we can dig into a more detailed comparison. So, there are two main differences between Python and C#.
- interpreted language (it does not need to be compiled to run)
- dynamically typed language (it does not need predefined variables at compile time)
- compiled language (it needs to be compiled every time you run or test it)
- statically typed (it defines variables at compile stage)
We want to break down our comparison into a few categories:
- speed and readability
Speed & readability
C# is one of the fastest used languages, thanks to the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) framework. It also brings quick compilations and is concurrent (it runs multiple threads at any time and executes graphic-heavy applications in no time).
Python is faster when it comes to development speed. There are three reasons for that:
- Python’s syntax is simpler than C#’s.
You can write the ‘Hello, world’ or ‘PrintName’ program in Python with just two lines, which takes C# at least ten.
Also, Python does not require finishing every line with a semicolon like C languages.
*Because Python is dynamically typed, it figures out your variables; it does not matter what it is, Python will figure it out at runtime. When coding in C# (statically typed language), you have to take the time to define them before running your code.
*Python is easier and quicker to debug because it doesn’t have a compile step – it runs immediately, unlike C#. In this case, you must compile code each time you test it.
Compiling steps may not always be a long process, but it can increase the time needed for testing and debugging.
Python also offers better readability. You, of course, can write clear, elegant, and readable code in C#, but it doesn’t need any indentation. You can end up with a mass of lines and curly braces. Python has indentation and white space built into its structure to delineate code blocks.
To sum up, Python has excellent readability and makes development faster, and you can also quickly get twice the amount of work done with the same amount of code.
Important note: speed is not synonymous with performance.
Both languages offer outstanding performance. But, if you need to manage a massive load of concurrent users or go through some powerful backend process - this is where you should go for C#.
Python is an interpreted language whose performance depends on its interpreter (CPython or PyPy). C# is not an interpreted language as Python is. It compiles to a bytecode called IL and it is executed by the dotnet binary runtime (virtual machine). This allows the code to be compiled and optimized for different processor architectures. It is a two step process - first create the output (IL code) and then use a “runtime” program to execute it.
If you are looking for the language to work on basic web and app dev, you can choose C# or Python - both are great for the job. These two do not have a built-in mobile capacity, but you can access the frameworks (Kivy and BeeWare for Python and Xamarin for C#).
But there are two cases in which you should choose one over the other - game development, AI, and machine learning development.
Even though C# and Python are general-purpose programming languages, in theory, you can use both for everything from game development to machine learning. Still, it doesn’t mean that they are equal in these areas.
C#’s performance, speed, and mastery in handling detail-oriented programs make it perfect for game development. It is an environment where you have to work with large numbers of concurrent users while running powerful processes in the background.
If you are into gaming, you know that C# is the most popular programming language, and many vital tools are based around it. You might be familiar with the Unity games engine and fan-fav games like Cuphead, Rust, and Hearthstone.
Thanks to the numerous toolkits, libraries, and available frameworks, Python is the go-to language, royalty in AI and machine learning development. It has a vast amount of software options for machine learning.
Numpy, SciPy, TensorFlow, PyTorch, Apache Spark, Keras, and many more are priceless in AI development – you’ll find that Python takes you further, faster than any other language in this area.
Machine learning engineers’ life is more accessible thanks to Python’s simple syntax and construction. It does add a level of consistency while they deal with abstract and complex problems.
By the way, check our articles about Python’s use cases:
C# has a more specialized set of tools than Python. It is because C# comes from a Microsoft licensed product. Python’s development tools are way simpler and more general.
Another important thing that makes Python unique is the range of available frameworks. C# is limited to ASP.NET (Windows only) and ASP.NET Core (cross-platform). .NET frameworks are practical tools but compared to Python’s frameworks… The first prize is leaning towards Python. Name a few:
- Bottle, CherryPy or Falcon if you need a lightweight framework.
- Django, Pyramid or Flask for heavy web development.
- DRF or FastAPI for API development.
- Tornado for async programming and protocol implementations.
- TensorFlow for AI development and machine learning.
- Kivy and BeeWare for mobile development.
- PyGTK, PyQT or wxPython for full blown GUI desktop apps.
Overall, C# has a limited (and more specialized) range of tools compared to Python.
Popularity & learning curve
According to professional developers participating in Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2022, Python is one of the most popular programming languages. C# took seventh place in the survey.
Python’s popularity comes from its data processing and strength. Read more about Why is Python so popular?.
These two languages are easy to learn if you are starting from scratch. Python, and we cannot stress this enough, is an excellent choice for beginners. If you have an experience with other C-based languages (eg, Java, C++), you’ll learn C# in a blink of an eye.
Python or C-sharp - which one should you learn first?
Python is a programming language typically focused on writing independent code. It is an interpreted language which makes it faster to operate and is highly interpreter dependent and dynamic, which means that the code development process is relatively quicker than with a statically compiled language.
It gained importance worldwide after Google adopted it as one of its official programming languages. It is used in machine learning, data analysis, and visualization.
C#, on the other hand, has an ordered structure and a consistent programming syntax. These features allow you to build various complex applications and quickly implement object-oriented programming concepts.
It is a statically typed language that lets you identify compile-time errors before executing your program. The source code is checked before being compiled into the application. It is used in building desktop, web, and Windows applications. The latest version of C# is compatible with other platforms such as Linux and MAC.
Python is fully open source, works under a GPL license, and is available to everyone - to use and participate in growth and development. Most of its kits - from packages to IDEs - are also open source. C# is considered open source, and it is indeed mostly open source, but this is a relatively new development. Microsoft is working on implementing C#’s sources step by step to a broader audience.
It is hard to answer the question of which language should be learned first, as it depends on many factors.
Python is the winner regarding ease of learning, cross-platform development, and availability of open-source libraries. At the same time, C# wins in the standard library, language features, development process, tools, performance, and language evolution speed.
These two are equal when we think about syntax and adoption. Python has an advantage in readability, while C# has more consistent syntax. Choosing one over another is somewhat tricky since both are great in some areas, but at the same time, both have their downsides. Unfortunately, we can use only one language while building software. However, remember that practicing and writing your code is the best way to learn any programming language.