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Python vs PHP: What to Choose for Web Development?

If you ask a developer which is better: Python or PHP, you will get into a hot debate. No wonder why, as both languages have it’s pros and cons. In this post, we will compare these two programming languages and try to figure out which one is better for the development of a web app. Also make sure to read our blog post on PHP vs Java.

Python and PHP Comparison

Let’s dig deeper into the issue, overviewing some significant features of each language and pointing out their differences.


Engineers are advocating for Python’s superiority claiming it is faster. But is it true that Python is faster than PHP? Well, Python used to be faster before PHP7 appeared. The performance benchmarks show that now PHP7 beats other programming languages in terms of speed, and Python is no exception. However, Python still remains very fast, so the speed should not be a decisive argument in Python-PHP comparison

Readability and Design

First of all, let’s answer the question why is it important? If the project is long-term and supposed to evolve, change and keep maintained, most likely the initial development team members might change over time. In this way, readable code and clear architecture can help to achieve two goals: reduce onboarding time and speed up further development.

If to compare PHP and Python by these criteria, the latter obviously wins. In fact, readability and well-thought-out design are the ingredients of Python’s philosophy. PHP, on the contrary, is considered to have more complex, hardly readable code. 

Community and Debugging

Both Python and PHP have a huge community of programmers who are ready to share their experience and contribute to languages’ improvement. It means that some concerns have already been faced and solved by other developers, so today issues or bugs can be fixed faster. The difference here is that PHP’s community is already huge, while the Python’s one keeps growing rapidly together with the popularity of this technology. The truth is that the ‘fresh blood’ of the Python’s community is more active and involved, which means faster development of the language and more responsive support. 

Speaking of debugging, both languages provide robust tools: PDB for Python and XDebug for PHP. But if PDB is easy to work with, XDebug requires additional tuning.   

Web Development Peculiarities

The most noticeable Python and PHP difference lies in their purpose: Python was created as a general-purpose language, while PHP is mostly used for web development

Hence, PHP offers more CMS and other ready-made solutions to accelerate and simplify the development process. That makes PHP great for small and medium projects with simple functionality.

But Python’s trump card is AI — one of the current IT trends. There is no other language that provides so many useful libraries for machine learning, perfectly working with the web framework. If there is a need for working with Big Data, data science and analytics, Python can handle them all.   

Here are some other differences to pay attention to while comparing PHP and Python:

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So, Which One to Choose for Web Development?

PHP is a good choice  for small and simple websites development, as well as for projects that require low latency (time spent on getting response after request). It is vital for web applications that have thousands or even millions of user requests at the same time. For example, it is great for social networks.

Python is preferable for starting a large project. Also, it is perfect for developing web applications backed by machine learning. It is useful for analyzing Big Data in such spheres like trading; and for personalizing customers’ services in spheres like e-commerce and retail.    

 Here is the thing to remember: 

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The Bottom Line

The debates on Python and PHP are still pretty hot and unl