When it comes to backend development, PHP and Python web development are two among the most popular choices that businesses, as well as developers, make. However, choosing one among the two is always a tough call. While a massive number of websites are programmed in PHP, Python has been witnessing a steep upward trend in the past 2 years.
If you, however, are leaning towards choosing Python over PHP as your language of choice, this blog is here to clear any doubts that you may have regarding Python vs. PHP.
How has Python been Doing?
According to Datanyze, though in the total websites developed over the month of November 2018, PHP far exceed those in Python, the websites that dropped PHP as their development language was a whopping 136,55. While PHP once used to rule the roost, it is now certainly witnessing a downward trend, since Python now offers itself as a better alternative.
After its adoption for product platforms by some of the biggest names like YouTube, Instagram, Quora, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, Google, Netflix, and Spotify, Python has become the new favorite.
According to Stack Overflow, From 2016 to 2017, the year over year growth of Python in the US and UK market has been a steady 27%, much higher than the rate at which PHP has been growing.
Both the languages have their own advantages and disadvantages besides some distinctive features. However, in the recent past, an increasing number of people have switched to Python from PHP, owing to several benefits like robustness, better design, and readability, to name only a few, that the Python programming language provides.
As statistics and trends suggest, Python is certainly one of the programming languages that are looking up, unlike PHP that faces stagnation now. The table below sums it up rather well.
Nevertheless, since selecting any language over another, in this case, Python over PHP, cannot simply be based on a growth rate, there are a number of reasons which a programmer should look for while making a decision.
So, we are going to compare PHP and Python programming languages for you to help you decide as to why Python may be a better choice for your application.
So, How does Python Compare to PHP?
Given the strong following that PHP has enjoyed for a long time, and maybe it still is, here are a few insights that justify the rapid growth of Python and the proposition that it can be a better language than PHP.
1. Well-Thought-Out Design
You will find it much easier to use Python for writing great code than PHP, although it is not impossible to write good code in PHP.
Python has the architecture that helps make it a well-thought-out, well-designed and robust language. PHP, on the other hand, seems not to be so well-thought-out.
PHP is not an elegant language as Python is, although it is completely workable. Any developer, who has a fair amount of experience in creating great software, is likely to write good script in PHP. However, to be more agile with PHP, very deep knowledge of the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the language is required.
For a developer who is trained classically, Python gets a lot of things right in terms of being a robust programming language, and also one that’s easier to grasp and use. This has much to do with the way in which reflection is implemented and functions are treated as first-class objects.
2. In the Ease-of-Learning, Python Wins
Well, on the face of it, it’s easy to work with both PHP and Python. And both are quite well-documented. Both of them also have IDEs for Windows, Linux, as well as MacOS.
But, here’s the deal; if you are a developer, you should consider what is likely to create the maximum value for you in the long term. You would obviously want to work with a language with which you can form a deep, rich, and long-lasting relationship.
In terms of that, Python fits the bill much better than PHP since the uses of the latter are more sophisticated, stand-alone programs but not versatile. Python uses are simpler and thus, more popular. Here is a list of world-class companies that use Python.
So, when its Python vs. PHP, the former wins not only because it’s easy to learn, but also because of a terrific number of tutorials available online.
3. Superior Framework
Although conceptually, developers would like to have choices, practically they like standards. If everything else is the same, they prefer that everyone works with the same libraries and frameworks.
Python provides just that mainly with Django, Pyramid, Pylons, and Flask. However, Django is generally considered the de facto web framework choice in Python. Its counterparts in PHP are Kohana, Symfony, CodeIgniter, and Zend.
As far as Python frameworks are considered, Django is the clear winner. It is extremely easy to use, secure, and fast. It is very stable and robust and renders itself usable for a number of applications. Most new developers prefer using Django, particularly for its shorter development time and ease of setup.
The learning curve, at present, is more closely related to frameworks than languages. The richer and deeper the framework, the more you have to learn. There is an upfront cost for frameworks, but it translates into a lot of long-term value.
4. Renders Itself More Readable
PHP is extensively documented and follows a classic approach. On the other hand, Python makes use of indentation enforcements that are quite strict. Arguably, Python is not just more readable than PHP, but also more readable than most other programming languages.
The very philosophy behind Python is code readability.
5. The Syntax Is Much Simpler than PHP
Python’s syntax is simpler, and the code easier to understand and write in Python. It does not include curly braces like other programming languages and is amazingly easy to grasp.
When you write something in Python, it is so elegant to look at that you almost want to show it off to others. That is generally not the case with something that is typically written in PHP web development.
6. Simpler, Easily Available Tools Debugging Tools
Python has a big developer ecosystem and easily available debugging tools for the language. Utilizing these tools is quite simple. It provides developers with Python Debugger (PDB), a rather powerful debugger, which is easy to use and so well-documented that even novices can grasp it well.
PHP also offers a debugger package called XDebug, which is great. The only margin by which Python wins is that it requires fewer debugging tools than PHP. The download package suffices more often than not.
7. A Clear Winner in Package Management
Package management acts as the glue between various projects. With its help, you can write, build, and share packages in such a format that other developers can easily plug into other applications.
Package management does exist in PHP, but there probably aren’t any code bases using it to the extent that PIP (a tool for installation and management of Python packages) does.
It enables you to install, uninstall, upgrade, and use a broad range of sources for internal and external libraries. It is rare to find a list of all third-party libraries and the version numbers in use, written in one file.
8. The Lambdas Provided by Python Offer an Advantage over PHP
A Lambda is a subroutine or a function that is defined and called without it being bound to an identifier. It is a code block that can be passed around and executed later, once or several times.
The Lambdas flow freely within Python and are simple to create. So, Python developers like to use Lambdas when these are appropriate for the job.
Earlier, there was only the ‘create_function’ available in PHP, which was not really a substitute for the Lambdas in Python. There have been changes made in subsequent versions of PHP and closure support is now available.
9. Python is More Versatile than PHP
Python is a versatile programming language, almost infinitely. Python website development is not the only one use case we’re looking at. Machine learning. NLP, data science, image processing, and desktop and mobile application development, are only a few other Python use cases.
PHP, on the other hand, may be used for other purposes than web development, but it is intended precisely for creating web pages, and that is what it does the best. It is a sophisticated programming language that is meant for creating sophisticated web programs.
10. Vast Support and Community
With the progression of time, Python has come to be perceived as “cooler” than PHP in terms of its versatility, modernity, simplicity, elegance, and ease of use. Since Python has such vast use cases like development, scripting, scientific application, and so forth, an enormous community has come to develop around it. So, developers can expect massive support, needless to say.
Besides, there is the Python Software Foundation which strives to
“promote, protect, and advance the Python programming language, and to support and facilitate the growth of a diverse and international community of Python programmers.”
So, expect an even larger community and even better support.
PHP, though, also has substantial support available and a large community of developers around it, compared to Python, it is only smaller.
Whereas PHP appears to be easier to learn and become proficient in, as the general perception goes, Python helps you create more robust code that can be put to versatile use cases.
While both are backed by large communities, elaborate documentation, and support, Python is the one that is seeing an upward trend and becoming the more popular choice. Numerous factors like the simplicity of code, versatile use cases, modularity, and countless libraries are the reasons why the developer, as well as businesses, love Python.
The fact is that such simplicity of use and adaptability make it very difficult to go wrong, letting you achieve your programming goals efficiently.