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PHP vs Java: Which Is Better For Web Development

.Net or Java, Python or PHP, PHP or Java there is always a debate — which programming language is better and the list is endless. No matter what couple you choose, there will always be two armies of software engineers who claim the superiority of one language over the other.

The truth is that there are no good or bad languages; there are languages that are more or less suitable for certain tasks. We are going to confirm this thesis using a couple of popular programming languages — PHP and Java. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at similarities and differences between Java and PHP to see why each of them is a perfect match for certain projects.

PHP and Java Comparison

In order to compare PHP and Java, we will highlight some features and see how they are represented in each language.

Types and purpose

Both languages are open-source and object-oriented (PHP can also be used as functional). PHP is a server-side scripting language that was created for the web development but now can also be used for other purposes. It’s main mission was to make web applications and sites dynamic.
Java also does it — powers dynamic web apps — but it is a general-purpose, compiled programming language. Java’s main mission is to enable writing code only once for using it on different platforms. This code runs at any device where Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is installed.

PHP is an interpreted language which means it runs on-the-go: code (script) is sent to an interpreter, translated into machine’s language and executed.
Java is a compiled language and works as follows: the source code (the one written by programmers) is converted into binary language so that JVM can understand it and adapt to the operating system of a particular device. Here is a small visual aid to understand:

Java vs PHP interpreter and compiler

One more point to add here is the complexity of support, upgrading and making other changes to the code. All these operations are more complicated with compiled languages as after each changing the code should be re-compiled. That is why PHP is easier and cheaper to edit if necessary.

Development time and cost

The most essential desire of any business is to launch a quality product to the market as fast and cheap as possible. In general, software development on PHP takes less time and budget: the average rates of PHP developers are lower than of Java’s, and the development itself goes simpler and faster. But we should keep in mind that some business tasks are still better solved with the help of Java. So, the development speed and cost should not be the main factor to consider when making a decision on the programming language. If you are not planning to sacrifice the quality for the sake of time and money economy, of course.


This is a very significant point, especially today when data matters as never before and is mainly digitized. A team of skilled and experienced software developers is capable of creating a secure solution no matter what language they use: PHP or Java. But Java is considered to be safer and to have more tools for empowering security. At the same time, it brings difficulties with low-level programming: in order to protect the PC, Java may not allow performing some functions, so it is mainly preferred for higher-level apps. This is also the reason why PHP-based apps can use shared hosting and for Java-based, it is better to have dedicated hosting.


Again, PHP vs Java performance comparison cannot result in proclaiming one of them the champion as both languages can be used to develop robust and fast software. When you just launch a Java-based app, it is not as speedy as it gets after full loading. PHP’s speed keeps stable at all the stages since each line of the code is executed right after the machine ‘reads’ it. If there is no need for processing big data and having too sophisticated solutions, PHP will work better for such a project.


Since PHP and Java are quite old (both appeared in 1995) and widely used, each of them has a great choice of tools, frameworks, and libraries. But Java is still a bit ahead of PHP: it provides better debugging tools and a richer set of API’s. The latest is especially important for complex systems for enterprises because it allows integrating with many external and third-party platforms.


Java and PHP have a lot of differences in approaches to web application development which makes each of them more suitable for particular goals. Java has enhanced security and can easily use third-party API’s, so it is more preferable for big and complex projects, for example, in banking or supply chain industries. PHP is a low-cost and fast way to the market and makes a perfect match for small businesses that need a simple solution like e-commerce or retail. To simplify the PHP and Java comparison we put together the most significant features for application development.

Table Comparison PHP vs Java

The Bottom Line

The main thing to remember when choosing a programming language is that it is just a tool. And the tool should be chosen after understanding and analyzing the purposes and tasks of the future software. So, before making a decision on what programming language and other technologies to use, thoughtful work should be done.
At SCAND, we have a great team of skilled software developers, business analysts and project managers. They collaborate with each other to analyze the market, make an estimation as well as the list of specifications, create strong architecture, and develop a robust software solution using the most appropriate technologies including PHP and