Which Is Best: PHP or Python?

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Not many people realize how many programming languages exist or how few of them are actually in high demand. Names like JavaScript, C++, and HTML are perhaps the most well-known even among average computer users.

But interestingly enough, PHP and Python are among the most used and easiest languages to learn. Of course, this raises the question. Which is best, PHP or Python? Or is there even a point in choosing between the two?

Sticking to one programming language is always best, whether you’re a veteran programmer or just dipping your toes in the programming water. It’s wise to spend at least a few good years using it until you can master it.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about PHP and Python, what they do, and which would win in a straight-up programming fight.

PHP Overview

PHP is a programming language based on open-source technology with multiple web development applications. It’s a server-side dynamic scripting language with minimal end-user-side applications but is ideal for building dynamic pages, managing server files, data collection, and database management.

It’s compatible with most, if not all, operating systems like macOS, Windows, Linux, and Unix. PHP has support for MySQL and Oracle databases and is arguably one of the easiest programming languages you can learn as a beginner.

Its open-source nature has led to vast educational and functional resources as well as several mature freemium frameworks for writing programs.

For the most part, PHP is considered a very readable language with similar syntax to other popular programming languages. It isn’t governed by very strict rules and enables programmers to use various naming conventions. It can also make use of JavaScript and HTML integration for more complex projects.

But despite all its flexibility, PHP is mostly known as a web development-oriented language.

PHP Benefits

The open-source technology and seamless database integration make PHP an essential language for modern web development.

In addition, the ease of use and good resource management enables it to optimize dynamic websites on almost any server and with many different databases.

Compared to similar scripting languages, PHP is superior, thus giving it a competitive edge even outside web development applications.

PHP Drawbacks

PHP isn’t perfect. If you’re asking yourself which is best, PHP or Python, you should know both the pros and cons of each programming language.

Some might call the PHP syntax weakly typed or point to its struggles in supporting large-scale content applications on the web.

It’s also worth noting that working on core behavior in the backend isn’t easy when using PHP.

Python Overview

Python offers some use in web applications but is not nearly as specialized as PHP. By default, Python is a dynamically typed language created for general use.

The first official Python release occurred in 1991, despite development work starting in the early 1980s.

Most common uses for Python include system scripting and software development. However, over the years, Python has garnered a stellar reputation in data science and AI applications and has been heavily used in research projects.

Despite being less specialized and a few years older than PHP, Python is improving at a rapid pace.

Beginner programmers may notice stricter syntax and indentation rules. While this could steepen the learning curve, it makes it a highly readable language, like PHP, if not better.

Some businesses that are very popular among the average consumer use Python, such as Pinterest and Uber.

Python Benefits

Python comes with a wide range of benefits, despite many of them being quite niche. The language has a comprehensible syntax and streamlines debugging processes.

It has comprehensive prebuilt libraries to accelerate development and provides an interactive shell for developers.

Also, unlike PHP, it’s less reliant on knowledge of other programming languages.

Python Drawbacks

Unfortunately, Python is no stranger to runtime errors and is far from friendly for developing mobile apps or mobile-friendly sites.

It also has higher resource consumption, posing unique problems in mass market applications. Interestingly, it offers substantial database integration with commercial DBMS systems, yet lacks the range that PHP provides for other databases.

Which Is Best PHP or Python

Which Is Best PHP or Python? – Top Considerations

Some programming languages are different enough in scope and functionality that choosing between them is a simple matter of understanding your needs.

But since PHP and Python overlap in certain areas, looking at several important considerations can help you decide.

Money

Let’s talk money. Python is a no-brainer if your main goal is to be a programmer, earn a good beginner salary, and have room to grow and improve.

Current employer demands indicate that Python programmers are not only highly sought-after but also well reimbursed for their knowledge.

There’s a good reason for this. There aren’t many Python developers to begin with. Maybe it’s because it’s not the most exciting language or hasn’t been as popular for a long enough time

Nonetheless, a Python programmer can earn tens of thousands of dollars more than a PHP programmer with the same experience.

Many industry rankings put Python in the top five most popular and sought-after programming languages and list PHP near the bottom.

As a backup programming language, new skill pickup, or first language, Python makes a lot of sense for people looking to write code for a living.

Of course, some could argue that higher pay indicates a higher-than-advertised learning curve compared to PHP.

Learning Curve

It’s hard to give a definitive answer to the question of which is best—PHP or Python—from a learning curve perspective.

Both programming languages are beginner-friendly and suitable for less technical individuals or those who didn’t particularly excel at programming in school.

The ease of learning will depend greatly on how you handle syntax rules and how much you value flexibility. Python is more rigid than PHP.

On paper, that could give Python the edge. However, some programmers will swear that looser rules make learning a language more fun, intuitive, and easier.

Going over past programming experiences could give you an advantage and a more precise answer about what language fits your style best.

Community and Documentation

This is another area where it’s difficult to pick a winner. These two languages from the 1990s have built amazing communities and have tons of free resources you can use to learn.

In addition, PHP and Python have no shortages of libraries that can speed up and streamline development times.

But Python gets a slight edge in terms of library support, which is impressive for an open-source technology with such a vast range of applications from simple scripting to machine learning.

Speed and Performance

PHP has had its ups and downs over the years. PHP 5 was relatively slow compared to where it is today. Version 6 was a complete bust, and it took a while to get to PHP 8 to see significant improvements.

That said, PHP is now undeniably faster and more resource-friendly than Python. Performance-critical applications that can use PHP should use it instead of Python.

Banking systems use PHP predominantly to support millions of daily hits.

In simple applications, Python can be a good alternative for web development, even though it’s still slower. It’s just not slow enough to cause significant lag and performance drops.

Available Frameworks

Which platform has the better frameworks? Python probably does.

Make no mistake. PHP comes with a generous offering of free frameworks with solid libraries and good testing capabilities.

But Python has Django. Although it offers a lot more, Django alone is so well put together that it makes it challenging to give PHP an edge in frameworks.

It has a ridiculously low development time, and its scalability goes through the roof, hence its usefulness in long-term projects and complex applications. Competing PHP frameworks are Laravel and CodeIgniter.

Your Goals

There are numerous reasons why you might want to pick between PHP and Python. Perhaps you’re a complete beginner looking for your first programming language.

Maybe you’re a long-time PHP developer considering switching to Python. Perhaps you’ve learned one of the languages and are unsure if you’ve wasted your time.

Consider the financial implications of investing time in these languages and the goals you want to achieve. If you’re all about web development, learning Python makes little sense despite providing more opportunities to branch out and tackle a variety of projects.

Python makes a lot more sense if you just want a feel for programming and don’t have your heart set on a specific niche.

Which Is Best, PHP or Python? The Definitive Answer

On paper, Python edges out PHP in some respects, and beats it by a mile in others. The ease of use might be too subjective. But Python creates better career financial opportunities and exposes developers to a wide range of projects in multiple industries, including heavy web development.

If you’re looking for a simple answer, it’s probably best to choose Python and never look back. However, if you’re uncertain of what you want your future to look like or what makes you more passionate, spend some time reevaluating your goals. PHP definitely has its niche uses and is hard to beat on its home turf.

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