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Python vs PHP: Which Technology Will Dominate The Future Of Web Development?

Nov 16, 20205 min read

Dawid Karczewski

Senior full stack developer and CTO at Ideamotive.

What programming language to choose? This is the eternal question for all IT specialists. Every forum is full of questions about which technology is better. But it is very hard to say for sure because the answer will vary depending on the needs, requirements, and peculiarities of a certain case. In this article, we will compare two popular programming languages, Python and PHP, by such criteria:

  • speed of development;
  • performance;
  • choice of web frameworks;
  • talent pool;
  • easiness of learning;
  • documentation;
  • debugging;
  • library support;
  • backend.

We won’t claim that one of the programming languages is better just because we think so. We will provide you with a detailed comparison by several criteria. So, you’ll be able to decide on your own, which one is better for your project. So, let’s start our Python vs PHP battle.

 

If you are also interested in the other technologies, check the articles where we compare Python vs JavaScript and PHP vs Ruby-on-Rails.

What is Python and what is it good for?

Python is a great option for all those interested in the fast creation of apps being an object-oriented tool. It supports packages and modules allowing programmers to apply the reuse of code feature as well as modularity.

Python is considered to be one of the quickest tools ever as one needs to put only a few lines of code. This programming language is treated as the best option for the newcomers as it is simple when comparing it to the direct competitors.

Python was created in 1991. This tool is popular for web apps (being a direct competitor for JavaScript), software creation as well as for system scripts. While Python is for many purposes, it can be mostly found in various web apps.

The main peculiarities of this tool are:

  1. There is a feature allowing you to collect garbage automatically.
  2. This tool supplies developers with various features including testing and debugging.
  3. Python can be easily integrated with the programming code of different languages including Java, C, and C++.

What is PHP and what is it good for?

PHP works with servers and can be used for web software as well as for web pages. This language can be easily integrated with the majority of modern servers and OS. PHP is believed to be the most popular among web professionals.

PHP is great for creating pages with dynamic content. Deleting, closing, and opening files on the server side are the main options of this language. PHP can also work with cookies, which is a great feature for a programming tool working with servers and web pages.

The main peculiarities of PHP include:

  1. It supports various databases (MaxDB, Paradox, DB++, FrontBase, and others).
  2. PHP creates a summary of previous accesses.
  3. This tool is very effective and convenient for web development.

Python vs PHP

Now let’s compare Python vs PHP by various important criteria.

Speed of development

This is not the most crucial of criteria but if one is to create the product, he will be interested in a programming tool that allows him to make the work faster. Python takes the leading position here as it is very easy. Moreover, the reuse feature allows you to put less code, saving even more time on typing.

 

Verdict: Python

Performance

If we compare Python vs PHP, it is crucial to pay more attention to the effectiveness criterion. As for the general speed, PHP 7th generation is very fast, much faster than Python. If we take simple applications where speed does not matter, you can use both tools. However, in various banking systems with millions of daily hits, PHP 7th will be preferable as compared to Python. To make a brief resume, Python vs PHP speed is lower.

However, this comparison doesn’t end with the above said. PHP restarts the app every time you send a request. It is not a big issue for most of the processes. For the great volume of software, Python vs PHP performance doesn’t matter. However, if you are using an app that is to share resources across requests, this may be a big trouble.

 

Verdict: PHP

Choice of web frameworks

Both tools have very reliable and comfortable web frameworks. Python is famous for Django and Flask. As for PHP, it can offer Zend, Symfony, Laravel, Codeigniter. These frameworks are very famous and you can find them in a very big volume of pieces of web software.

It’s hard even to establish a true leader by this criterion. Both languages have very strong web frameworks, being very popular. They are great to create modern, fast, and functional apps. But still, to conclude this PHP vs Python for web applications comparison we can underline that PHP has more frameworks for web development. So, Python loses by this criterion because it offers only Django and Flask.

 

Verdict: PHP

Community and support

Python vs PHP comparison wouldn’t be full without mentioning the community and support of both tools. It is to say that PHP is older than Python and has a wider community. If you have questions and issues you can ask them to skilled professionals. You can find them on various forums and dedicated web pages.

Even so, Python is very popular and the volume of skilled programmers ready to help is huge as well. This language has become extremely popular after Google decided to use this tool to produce some famous apps including video streaming services.

When visiting those dedicated websites you can ask almost any questions and get deep answers to them. This is very helpful for any beginner to get greater results.

 

Verdict: PHP

Talent pool

Both languages have a very big talent pool. You can’t even imagine how many professionals are creating their products using both tools. Those are millions of programmers that are working worldwide.

But to get more certain figures, we have researched LinkedIn. Searching for the people by the “PHP developer” keyword, we have received 1 710 000 results:

While the search by the “Python developer” keyword has brought only 1 510 000 results:

So, both numbers of programmers using these languages are big. But still, there are more PHP than Python developers.

 

Verdict: PHP

Easiness of learning

It’s hard to say for sure which language is easier to master because it depends on a certain learner. For some people, Python is easier, and for someone, PHP seems simpler. We have researched this topic and discovered that it takes on average 2 months to get into the basics of Python.

As for PHP, you can learn it even in 2 weeks. But for real programming in this language, you should also already be familiar with other technologies. So, it will take months to learn them if you are only starting to study programming.

If you are a newbie standing on the crossroads thinking about what language to start with, Python will definitely be the number one choice.

 

Verdict: Python

Documentation

Both tools offer abundant pieces of documentation for learning. There are many courses that one can attend to learn any of those languages. Moreover, one doesn't even need to buy them as many free tutorials are helping to build apps on these languages.

However, if you dive deeper into this, when you read PHP documentation, you can find that some comments that are at the top, are old and they are not actual anymore. There are no such problems with Python documentation.

But anyway, the documentation provided by both languages is great. You can find almost all the answers to any questions you may have during the development process.

 

Verdict: Python

Debugging

We continue our Python vs PHP comparison with debugging features. When you are in the process of developing a new application, you want to know what will happen if things break. The experienced programmers know that they need a debugger to solve this issue.

There are plenty of debuggers for both PHP and Python developers. Some of them are even integrated into IDE like Visual Studio Code or PyCharm. The only thing you need to do is to find and click the Debug button.

However, PHP developers can’t enjoy those simple features. Sometimes they need to do additional work to debug the app. Anyway, once you set up your PHP debugger, you will not have any difficulties to run it and to apply it.

 

Verdict: Python

Library support

Comparing both languages, you can’t avoid library support subjects. Python has PyPi, which allows you to control packages. This tool is one of the most crucial ones and a must-have for all Python programmers.

As for PHP, its libraries are not as powerful as Python’s ones. PHP 7 offers Composer, which is a great library. Even so, it is young and has its disadvantages for the moment. However, it is a very fast developing tool, which looks very promising currently.

 

Verdict: Python

Backend

If we compare Python vs PHP for backend, it’s hard to establish a leader here. Both languages allow you to work with the server with an approximate similar effectiveness.

But as for database connectivity, it is not the strongest part of PHP. Python has more advantages here providing access to various databases.

 

Verdict: Python

Instead of conclusion: The comparative table

Let’s summarize in a short table the information we’ve discussed in the article.

So, both Python and PHP are good, but every language is better in something particular.

 

Still don’t know which programming language to use for creating your project? Contact our software consultants, and they will help you to choose the right technology that fits the best for exactly your case. Also, we will provide you with Python/PHP talents matched with your industry and company culture.

Dawid Karczewski

Dawid is a full stack developer experienced in creating Ruby on Rails and React Native apps from naught to implementation. Technological superhero, delivering amazing solutions for our clients and helping them grow.

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