Which Language Is Better for Web Development: PHP or Python?
To acquire as many users as possible, companies around the world aim to choose a programming language that can help them build feature-rich interactive web solutions. PHP and Python are the most popular languages among web developers. This is due to the fact that both are very powerful and easy to learn programming languages.
Despite the fact that PHP and Python are in great demand, each of them serves a different purpose. While PHP was initially developed as a web language, Python was created as a general-purpose programming language.
Let’s figure out which language is better to choose for web development. In this article, we provide a detailed description of each language and comparison of PHP and Python to help you select the one that fits your web development project best.
What is Python?
Python is a high-level interpreted, object-oriented programming language with dynamic semantics. It is a general-purpose language which is used to develop a variety of programs and applications from machine learning and data science to building websites.
Python is easy to learn and use thus it has become one of the most widely used programming languages nowadays.
Python is an open source language being on its third major version. It is highly supported by the community and has a mature ecosystem of frameworks, IDEs, linters and tools that are constantly improved and contributed to by the community members. The most popular are Django, Pyramid, Falcon, Flask, and Bottle. If you run into a bottle-neck, you will most likely find a solution as somebody has already resolved it before.
What Is Python Used For?
Being a universal multipurpose language Python is used for the development of almost everything. Among the well-known companies using Python for their projects are Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, Meta, Reddit, Venmo, Uber, Spotify, Netflix, and Dropbox. It is mainly utilized for:
- Data analysis and machine learning
- Web application development
- Automation or scripting
- Software testing and prototyping
Features of Python
According to a RedMonk survey conducted in 2021, Python is the second most popular used programming language among developers. Here are the main reasons why:
Simple syntax: Python has a simple syntax very similar to the English language, so it’s easy to read and understand.
Cross-platform: Python works on different platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc), so you do not need to develop an application for different platforms which cuts down time for the app delivery and costs on additional developers.
Versatile: Python can be used for many different purposes, from web development to data science and machine learning.
Beginner friendly, Python is easy to learn and use which allows developers to write fewer lines of code in comparison with some other programming languages.
Scalability: When scaling up you do need to bother about rewriting or adapting code for other platforms.
For these and many other reasons developers choose Python for their projects. Let’s have a look at the Python opponent in this battle – PHP.
What is PHP?
PHP is a general-purpose server-side scripting language that is mainly used for web development (77.4% of all the websites including Facebook, Pinterest, Yahoo and Wikipedia are written in PHP). Although, according to Github,it is not the most beloved one among developers, its market share remains high.
According to Statista the market share of PHP is 45.43 percent.
PHP is also an open source language with its latest major PHP version 8.1, however version 7 remains the most widely used. Being an open source language, PHP has a large number of frameworks and tools including most widely used Laravel, Symfony, Yii. You can review their comparison here.
What Is PHP Used For?
As mentioned above PHP is mainly used for website development, this is due to the fact that the most famous content management system WordPress is written in PHP. This CMS is used in 40% of all the websites, which is a significant part of 77.4% of websites worldwide.
- E-Commerce portals
- Project management tools
- Graphical User Interfaces
- Mailing services
- Online communities and social networks
- Dynamic web pages
Features of PHP
PHP has been used for web development for more than 15 years already and is still in demand due to a number of advantages it provides. Here are some of them:
- Cross-Platform: PHP runs on every platform (Windows, Linux or Mac).
- Open Source: PHP original code is open and available for everyone who wants to build upon it.
- Simple: PHP is easy to learn for a beginner who has some basic programming knowledge.
- Database Integration: PHP syncs smoothly with any type of database like MySQL, Postgres, MongoDB, etc.
- Supportive Community: PHP is supported by a huge online community which enhances this language and creates great frameworks and tools.
Is Python Better Than PHP Or Vice Versa?
Let’s compare both languages in detail.
Both PHP and Python are dynamically typed and object-oriented languages that are compatible with multiple operating systems, therefore, in some ways they are similar. Still, these languages are different in terms of ease of use.
Unlike Python, which is a general-purpose language, PHP was originally developed as a tool for creating dynamic websites and web applications. PHP development may be too complicated because of its rigid syntax.
On the contrary, Python is quite simple to understand thanks to its high readability. Also, in Python, the written code can be easily interpreted and read which simplifies the debugging process. For these reasons, it may be easier for a company to hire Python web app developers than an experienced PHP web app development team.
Some years ago, Python was faster than PHP, but after the release of PHP 7, this has changed. The core PHP team has done a great deal to speed up the language so now PHP is faster than Python and many other languages. If developers need to process huge amounts of data, high speed may greatly improve performance.
However, for building simple and small-scale apps both languages will be a good fit.
There are also such factors as hardware resources, code logic, the amount of memory, the width of its data path, and access time for hard disks that may also affect software performance regardless of the programming languages. Also, low storage space, as well as failing RAM or hard drives can make software work slower or work with crashes and errors.
User information and data security are topical issues in any IT-related debate. A report from WhiteSource ranked Python among the top secure programming languages. Python has several security features that can be used to build complex apps with precise goals and functions in mind. For instance, its framework Django has built-in safety features that allow developers to effectively deal with threats.
In contrast to Python, a large number of PHP apps may have security issues due to old coding practices and the bad code. Many of these issues have been resolved through PHP community participation. Nevertheless, experienced web app developers may use both languages to create secure applications if they follow the latest security practices.
Both Python and PHP have great community support. PHP has been in the market since 1995 and managed to form a huge community of developers that are ready to provide support.
Python was released even earlier, in 1991. Just like its rival, Python has a large community of developers who are continuously developing web applications, and hence the community support is outstanding.
Therefore, given the popularity of languages, both PHP and Python developers can rest assured that they can get help or valuable advice.
If companies want to succeed they need to make sure their apps can be quickly adapted to the changing market and customer requirements. Both PHP and Python are good for web app development since they offer a great selection of libraries and frameworks. For instance, PHP provides multiple robust web frameworks used by many large brands. Such frameworks as Symfony and Laravel are very popular among PHP developers.
Python also provides many robust frameworks for web app development, such as Flask and Django. Both frameworks are very fast, safe, and scalable.
However, Python-based solutions offer even more scalability thanks to Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence capabilities. For example, with Django, developers can build scalable applications, as this framework allows engineers to use decoupled and independent components. What is more, the framework is great for deploying machine learning models.
Python vs PHP For Web Development
Despite the fact that Python was created as a general-purpose language, while PHP was developed as a language for the web, they are both suitable for web app development.
The choice of a language should depend on the needs of a particular project. For example, if a company wants to develop a small- or medium-scale project with a limited set of features, PHP will be a good fit.
If a company wants to simplify or speed up the development process, it should also use PHP because of its ready-made tools. PHP may also be a great option for e-commerce websites and content management because it provides unmatched integrations with different 3d party apps.
One of Python’s advantages is the fact that it is widely used in AI, data science, and the scientific community. This language offers a lot of libraries (i.e. Pandas, Theano, and so on) that work stably with the Machine Learning technology in a web environment. Also, if a company intends to use technologies like Big Data, Python may be a perfect choice.
However, the choice of a particular language requires a deep knowledge of all the nuances of its usage. For companies that don’t have any technical background, it may be difficult to make the right choice on their own.