There’s a battle going on in the arena of software development, PHP vs Python. And it never seems to end.
Developing a successful website or application starts with choosing a reliable programming language.
With stiff competition to produce high-performing, scalable, reliable, secure, and flexible web products, it has become necessary to choose a wise technology base, including the programing language.
While experienced programmers have their personal preferences, logical opinions, and favorite tools for software development, beginners and project managers face trouble while choosing a programming language to get started.
And if you already have joined this battle of PHP vs Python and are confused on which side you must continue your fight, this article can help you.
Let’s find out what wins in my comparison criterion and what is suitable for your project requirements.
What Is PHP?
Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is an open source scripting language used extensively for server-side web development.
Created in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf, a Danish-Canadian programmer, PHP was named Personal Home Page originally. He released the first PHP version (PHP 1.0) in June 1995.
Since then, various developments have been made for the subsequent PHP versions, and we have PHP 8 as the latest PHP version that was released in November 2020.
PHP project’s mascot is a blue “elePHPant” (elephant) with its logo written on its side. Vincent Pontier is the designer credited for creating this mascot.
A PHP code is processed over a web server using a PHP interpreter implemented in a daemon, module, or an executable CGI (Common Gateway Interface).
This interpretation and execution of PHP code can be data of any type, such as binary images.
The features of PHP include:
Open source: As PHP is open source, anyone can download it and use it however they like to accomplish their web development goals. This enables developers worldwide to inspect codes, post errors, and contribute to coding and bug fixing.
Simple and easy to use: PHP is simple and easy to use, which is one of the top reasons many developers prefer this programming language.
Its syntax is quite similar to that of C language, with a well-organized and logical structure. It’s also easy to learn PHP and dive into coding compared to many scripting languages.
Multiple database support: PHP supports various databases, including MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, etc., along with database integration.
Cross-platform compatibility: It can run on almost all operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and Unix. PHP scripts also run across devices such as computers, laptops, tablets, and mobiles. Besides, PHP is also compatible with various servers such as IIS, Apache, and more.
Error reporting and exception handling: PHP supports some predefined error-reporting constants to generate error warnings. Additionally, it facilitates exception handling to display errors and fix them.
Efficient and fast performance: PHP scripts can show better performance than many scripting languages such as JSP, PERL, ASP.NET, etc. Its data loading and database connectivity are also faster to enable efficient database management, mail functionality, and server administration.
Real-time monitoring: It provides recent logging details of a user. You can access CPU and memory usage data as well.
Object-oriented features: The object-oriented features in PHP contributes to its speed and offer additional features such as inheritance, data encapsulation, etc.
More features: PHP offers magic constants, regular expressions, PDO class, supports cookies, shell command-line execution, and much more.
What Is It Used For?
This server-side scripting language can generate dynamic page content, create files on a server, open, write, read, close, or delete files.
PHP is database friendly, which is why it can effortlessly add, modify, or delete data inside a database.
In addition to these, PHP can also collect data out of your forms, support cookies, perform data encryption, and control user access.
According to a W3Techs report, 79.2% of all sites on the internet use PHP as their server-side programming language as of 19th March 2021.
Some of the popular websites using PHP are Facebook.com, Wikipedia.org, Zoom.us, Microsoft.com, Canva.com, Salesforce.com, and so many more.
What Is Python?
Python is an object-oriented, interpreted, high-level programming language.
It was developed by Guido van Rossum and released in 1991. With the development in various versions and subversions, we now have Python 2 and Python 3, with the latest one being Python 3.9.2, released recently on February 19, 2021.
The design philosophy of PHP focuses on code readability and uses significant indentation and dynamic semantics. It is dynamically typed and supports garbage collection and various programming paradigms, such as structured (mainly procedural), functional, and object-oriented programming.
As a result, it helps programmers code clearly with logic and is useful for large-scale and small-scale projects. Due to its extensive list of standard libraries, Python is also known as a “Batteries Included” programming language.
The main features of Python are:
Free and open source: Python is available on its official website to download for FREE and use it. You can also use its publicly available source code and modify it based on your needs.
It’s also developer-friendly and uses simpler, less complex syntax with plain English and mathematics. Hence, coding becomes effortless with Python, which is why many developers love it.
Object-oriented: This is one of the main features of Python, which enables concepts like object encapsulation, classes, construct and destruct, and more.
Extensible: Instead of building the entire functionality in its core, this language was designed to be extensible with various modules. Due to the compact modularity, developers find it easy to add programmable interfaces into existing apps. You can also write a Python code in C/C++ and compile it.
Interpreted language: Python codes are executed line-by-line, one at a time similar to Java, C++, and C. Therefore, code compilation is unnecessary, making debugging easier and saves time.
Portable: Python codes are portable. In case you have Python codes for Windows OS, and you want to run it on other operating systems like Mac, Linux, or Unix, it’s possible without changing the codes.
Dynamically-typed: A variable type is decided during run time instead of at the start. Hence, you don’t need to specify the variable type like int, char, long, double, etc. It reduces lines of code and makes the programming even simpler.
For example, in Java, you write int x = 5
But in Python, you’ll write x = 5. That’s it. This “x” can be any type of variable.
Compressive standard library: Its standard library houses a rich set of functions and modules, so you don’t have to write every code from scratch. You can simply use the available codes for applications like unit-testing, regular expressions, web browsers, CGI, image manipulation, and more.
What Is It Used For?
There are many uses of Python, such as:
To Create web applications: Python is one of the best programming languages for web development due to the array of options it provides you with. It supports frameworks such as Pyramid and Django, micro-frameworks like Bottle and Flask, and advanced CMS like Django CMS and Plone.
These frameworks are flexible, scalable, secure, and come with various modules and standard libraries useful for simplifying tasks such as database interaction, content management, etc. Its standard library also supports internet protocols like HTML, XML, FTP, IMAP, POP, etc.
Additionally, its Package Index has other useful libraries, including Requests, Feedparser, Beautiful Soup, Paramiko, and Twisted Python.
Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI): AI and ML projects are different from traditional software projects and models. They require different skill sets, technologies, and tools, and a stable and reliable language. Python is equipped with such functionalities and flexibility to handle unique project requirements.
Its simplicity, platform independence, resourceful libraries, consistency, and active development community strengthen people’s use of Python in their AI and ML projects.
Python packages famous for AI and ML include SciPy for sophisticated computing, Seaborn to visualize data, Pandas for data analysis, IPython for parallel computing, and recording work sessions TensorFlow, and Keras for ML, NumPy for high-level scientific computing, and more.
Desktop GUI creation: As Python has a module architecture and works on multiple Oss, you can create desktop GUIs using an efficient text-processing tool, framework, or a Python module, such as PyQt4, PyQt5, WxPython, PyGtk, PySide, PyGUI, Tkinter, etc.
Software development and rapid prototyping: Python applications and packages aim at simplifying software development processes. Python can help you develop web and desktop applications, along with complex applications capable of numeric and scientific computing.
Developers use Python extensively, even for build-control, management, and testing. For these individual purposes, you can use SCons, Trac or Roundup, and Apache Gump or Buildbot, respectively.
Other uses: Python is used for game development using libraries such as PySoy, which is a Python-based 3D game engine. This is why video game developers used Python in games such as Battlefield 2, Civilization-IV, and more.
Python is also used to build enterprise-level or business applications, requiring more scalability, extensibility, and readability. For this, Python-supporting tools are available like Odoo and Tryton.
It is used in language development for Boo, Cobra, Swift, CoffeeScript, etc. Python is the language behind Oss like Linux distributions” Ubiquity Installer. You can also control big data, connect to databases, perform web scraping, leverage graphic design and image processing, etc., using Python.
PHP vs Python
Which Is Easier to Learn?
PHP, although a general-purpose language, is great for developing more sophisticated web applications. Its syntax is a bit similar to Java, C, C++, and Perl. The function returns, if conditions, while and for loops are also similar.
In PHP, variable names are case-sensitive. It terminates statements by a semicolon and treats whitespaces and newlines like a free-form language. It requires you to prefix variables with $, uses curly braces and the – > operator for indicating a method.
Overall, it takes quite a long time to learn PHP and code in it, especially for beginners. But their developer community is working on making it easier.
For example, PHP 4 involves improved object-oriented programming with better abstraction to enable tasks easier.
On the other hand, Python is easier to learn, even for beginners. This scripting language was designed to be easily readable with uncluttered formatting, simpler syntax, and plain English words instead of punctuations.
Python does not employ curly braces for delimiting blocks. Instead, it uses whitespace indentation. This gives an accurate visual structure to its semantics. Python also includes rare use of semicolons and has fewer special cases and syntactic exceptions.
These attributes make Python coding easy to learn and write, shorter in length, and simpler to debug. In addition to this, it leaves room for error because the main codes don’t break in cases of small mistakes. This is why various programming courses use Python to teach programming fundamentals to beginners.
Conclusion: Python is a clear winner.
Ease of Installation
PHP installation is comparatively easy. It installs and runs nicely on Windows, Linux, and macOS X. You can also find it on many shared hosting websites for lower fees worldwide.
If you want to build a small app, PHP would be a great help.
In contrast, Python can be challenging to install. It can also become more difficult on macOS X with another Python version already installed on your system.
Another disadvantage is that this already existing Python version would be outdated, hence, not suitable to develop an app. And even if you try installing new Python packages, you will need a new Python version installation.
i know this can get frustrating.
Apart from this, installing Python can get a bit tricky on Windows. To reduce the risk of running into issues, use a package manager such as Chocolatey.
But if you’re a Linux user, you won’t find any trouble installing Python on your computer system.
Verdict: PHP wins in terms of installation.
Performance and Speed
According to an Unbounce report published in December 2018, 79% of online shoppers facing trouble with site speed and overall performance say they won’t visit or patronize the website again.
It shows that all the apps and sites you develop must be responsive and load faster—within 2-3 seconds at most.
Although speed and performance can vary due to various elements like hardware resources, memory, storage space, code logic, hard disk access time, data path width, and more, what programming language you use is also a factor to consider.
Hence, comparing the speed and performance of Python and PHP is crucial.
The early versions of PHP were slow, including PHP 5.x that took a great deal of time to execute codes. It seems like their developer community has worked significantly on improving the programming language’s performance and speed with PHP 7.x.
It’s exceptionally faster than many programming languages, including Python. Zend Engine 3.0 was also released with PHP 7, making the programming language 2x faster than its previous version.
Comparatively, Python’s code compilation process is designed to be quicker, even without installing caching systems. When a file is created and/or modified, it converts this code into bytecode. It was way faster than what PHP used to be before PHP 7.x was introduced.
For example, if you’re developing a banking system, which can receive a huge amount of traffic daily, it needs to be exceptionally fast. Shorter delays can impact system performance greatly. In this case, using PHP 7 would be recommended over Python.
However, if you want to build a simple application where speed and time lag don’t have much impact, you can use both Python and PHP.
Conclusion: PHP wins in terms of speed and performance.
Cybersecurity is probably one of the biggest concerns of the internet world.
Cyberattacks are also evolving with the advancements of technology, such as cross-site scripting (XSS), malware injection, phishing scams, DDoS attacks, and more.
Ultimately, businesses and individuals are suffering hugely in terms of money and reputation.
As per a Varonis report published in March 2021, 88% of global organizations faced spearfishing attacks in 2019, while 95% of all cybersecurity breaches occurred due to human error.
This is why developers and designers need to take security seriously for web development. Choosing a programming language that can provide better security is what they should aim for.
Another study published in December 2015 shows that around 86% of apps written in PHP involve one XSS vulnerability at least. Many security issues in PHP have been resolved due to its huge community, but you need to choose the most secure alternative.
Python is more secure than PHP. It has many security features that you can leverage to build complex applications with high-end functionality and clear goals. In fact, this March 2019 report shows that Python is one of the most secure programming languages.
For example, Python supports Django, which comes with security features to protect the apps from threats. This is why many government organizations and banking institutions leverage Python to build their robust applications with top-notch security.
Conclusion: Python wins without a second thought.
In this PHP vs Python comparison, Python wins by 2 points. But this doesn’t mean you have to choose Python and neglect PHP. Both PHP and Python are excellent programming languages suitable for web and app development.
PHP has been the go-to choice for a majority of web development projects for quite a long time. But now, Python is slowly making its way with its exceptional features and functionalities for high-end science-based applications and cater to this modern, tech-savvy world.
In the end, it largely depends upon your project requirements along with your skills, knowledge, and expertise in PHP or Python. You can go with either of them if you’re an experienced programmer and you need to design a basic website with less complexity.
But if you’re a beginner, try learning Python first, and then you can shift gradually to PHP or other languages.
Again, if you need to develop science-based applications and sites like AI, ML, Big Data, etc., Python is better.
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