PHP vs Python: What’s Best For Your Project In 2020?

PHP or Python, which programming language has the potential to give you the maximum returns for the development time and efforts invested in your project? Which is more likely to be sustained in the long term?

Here is a detailed comparison of both these programming languages based upon a number of different characteristics to help you choose the right technology that best meets your needs. Let’s get started!

1. Ease of Programming

The biggest difference between programming in PHP vs programming in Python is in their syntax.

Python is generally considered the easier language to learn because of its simplified syntax and simplicity of commands. The code is separated with spaces and tabs instead of curly brackets and other characters which speeds up the programming as well.

The relatively low learning curve is why Python is increasingly being taught in entry level computer science courses for introduction to programming. Python also has a wider room for error as the code does not break due to programming errors.

PHP, on the other hand, has a syntax which is very similar to C and involves proper usage of curly brackets, additional characters and operators. Since the syntax is rigid and the room for committing mistakes is smaller, learning PHP is considerably more challenging than Python.

PHP vs Python verdict: PHP 0 – Python 1

If you or your team are just looking to get started with web development, Python would be an easy programming language to begin with.

Side Note: Arkenea has 11+ years of experience in web development. Talk to us if you’re looking to hire Python web developers for your project.

2. Market adoption

Majority of websites have chosen to hire PHP developers to build their web applications. In terms of total market share, PHP clearly dominates Python when it comes to server-side programming.

A reason for this may also be because of the fact that the popular content management systems like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are scripted in PHP. Other than these, PHP also boasts of websites like Wikipedia, Mailchimp and Flickr.

Python on the other hand is the popular language primarily for machine learning and natural language processing. It is popularly used on the web for making web apps and APIs. Its popularity as a programming language for websites rose when it chosen to develop Google products like YouTube which was followed by its widespread adoption.

Today a number of web applications like Spotify, Instagram, Dropbox, Reddit, etc. use Python as their core programming language.

PHP vs Python Verdict: PHP 1 – Python 1

PHP has a larger market adoption in web development while Python is widely popular for developing AI/ML applications.

Related: Ruby on Rails vs PHP: The Top Choice For Your Web Application.

3. Compatibility with major operating systems

PHP is capable of seamless integration with all the major operating systems like Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Unix and Solaris. Python, on the other hand, is compatible only Windows and Mac OS X.

Additionally PHP supports the most commonly used web protocols like which makes it easier for the web application developed to interact with other applications that use these protocols and ensures hassle-free deployment over other web servers.

When it comes to technology stacks, LAMP stack further simplifies the web app development with PHP. LAMP is an abbreviation of Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP and works well for dynamic web applications. It can be combined with other open source software packages which result in high flexibility and customization. The other variations of LAMP include MAMP Mac OS), WAMP ( Windows OS), and XAMPP (which runs on Linux, Windows and Mac making it truly cross-platform).

Python/Django is the tech stack which uses Python as the programming language.

PHP vs Python Verdict: PHP 2 – Python 1 

PHP is truly cross-platform programming language that runs smoothly across all the major operating systems.

4. Performance and Speed

PHP 7 onward runs on JIT engines which makes the development speed considerably faster than Python. While the versions before the launch of PHP 7 were quite slow and lagged behind, PHP 7 and the versions after that are typically three times faster than a program written in Python.

The Jit engines in PHP improve the code execution speed of the web application. Behavioral studies show that the users tend to abandon the web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to get loaded. Thus, the faster application loading times come as a huge advantage while striving for quick loading web pages.

The biggest advantage PHP has over Python is return types which result in faster code execution and hence gets an edge over the other programming languages when it comes to performance.

PHP vs Python Verdict: PHP 3 – Python 1 

PHP, after the release of PHP 7 is the best bet for developing fast loading web applications. 

5. Cost-effectiveness

PHP ranks among one of the most popular programming languages for web development and hence has a greater number of resources available, bringing down the costs associated. As a business owner, if you are short on monetary resources, PHP gives you great incentive. While both these programming languages are open source, the cost of hiring developers varies significantly.

Due to higher competition, hiring a PHP developer results in acquiring an equally talented and experienced resource at lower costs. The remuneration rates when hiring a Python developer are higher due to the lesser resources available.

The hosting costs also vary significantly between PHP and Python with the costs rising significantly upwards in case of the latter. Finding a hosting that supports a Python application is higher as compared to PHP hosting and this adds to the overall development and maintenance costs as well.

PHP vs Python Verdict: PHP 4 – Python 1 

PHP is hands down more cost effective compared to Python.

Related: Don’t Hire Python Developers Without This Checklist.

6. Debugging

Finding errors in an application and resolving them as soon as possible is crucial to your application’s success. If it takes a lot of time to identify the errors and resolve them, it ends up costing more to your business. PHP offers a debugging package called as XDebug which is good at the task but the Python debugger surpasses XDebug in terms of usability.

Python requires lesser tools than PHP to debug the applications. The Python debugger is well documented and very easy to use, thus saving time and efforts for the developers and resulting in cost saving for the organization.

PHP vs Python Verdict: PHP 4 – Python 2

Debugging in Python is simpler and more cost effective than debugging in PHP.

7. Support

PHP and Python both have staggering support from the developer community. When it comes to repositories and libraries, PHP takes the crown. It has a large pool of developers and online resources. The number of questions on PHP and Python on online resources like StackOverflow are also more numerous than Ruby which is directly indicative of greater resource availability for PHP.

Between PHP and Python, it is difficult to pick a clear winner because both have thriving community support. Python is the favorite of academics because it dominates the machine learning space while PHP is largely favored by masses for web development.

PHP vs Python Verdict: PHP 5 – Python 3

PHP ties with Python in terms of community support and documentation available.

8. Scalability

PHP is a dynamically typed language which may result in difficulties while scaling if your team is not experienced enough. As the application grows larger and more complex, tracking down the errors and fixing them becomes a tough task.

Python is the language of choice when it comes to building scalable websites and applications. Python/Django is the most favored framework for building a prototype or minimum viable products (MVP) and getting them to scale.

Python code is more readable as it follows a strict syntax whereas, in case of PHP, there exists a lot of subjectivity in the code depending on the developers. Python is also a beginner-friendly programming language which ensures ease of scaling of the applications developed.

PHP vs Python Verdict: PHP 5 – Python 4

Python/Django ranks as the best option to build highly scalable web applications.

Summing up

The web is baked into PHP’s DNA. You can straight up embed it in HTML. You can’t really do that in Python. It requires frameworks (Django) to give you reasonable web-oriented functionality. PHP does not. It has web framework-like utilities baked into its standard library.

The way a PHP application is served also makes more robust. If a request bombs, only that request bombs. There isn’t an application running that can crash out and needs to be restarted as you get with  Python.

The widespread availability of resources, robust performance and speed and widespread community support makes PHP the programming language of choice when it comes to website and web application development. There are also a large number of frameworks available to facilitate faster application development using PHP like Laravel, Symfony and CodeIgniter. These make the development of responsive websites and applications easier and faster.

Python also has powerful frameworks that ramp up the software development life cycle like Django, Flask, Pyramid, etc.

The choice at the end of the day comes down to what your actual project requirements are!

Arkenea – Your Trusted Partner!

If you are looking to hire PHP or Python developers to launch your experience-rich and responsive website or web app, feel free to request a quote from us. Our team of award-winning and highly qualified PHP and Python developers would partner with you in successful development and deployment of your website.