In today’s highly disruptive technology world, PHP and Python are the two most popular server-side languages that most businesses prefer. However, choosing Python over PHP or PHP over Python is always a tough call. While a massive number of websites are programmed in PHP, Python has been witnessing a steep upward trend for the past two years.
Python has been in the market for over thirty years now. However, you may come across Python vs PHP publications (mostly written by rather prejudiced programmers) that stress on the Python drawbacks and question the feasibility of its application in the product development and IT services.
As a CEO or CIO, if you have ever pondered whether Python development is suitable for your project, here’s some food for thought:
Is the Python situation really so bad? If so, how is Python leading and projected to head the web development world in the coming year? Why is it the choice of market leaders like Netflix, Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify?
How has Python been Doing?
According to Datanyze, even though PHP far exceeds the total number of websites developed till February 2020, the websites that dropped PHP as their development language have been a whopping 55,214.
While PHP once used to rule the roost, it is certainly witnessing a downward trend, since Python now offers itself as a better alternative.
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.
Nevertheless, selecting one language in Python vs PHP battle, in this case, Python over PHP, cannot simply be based on the growth rate, there are a number of reasons which a business should look at while making a decision.
Python vs PHP: Comparison
There has been an all-out cold war between PHP and Python development, with no signs it slowing down anytime soon. In this section, we pit Python against PHP to find out the winner.
1. Speed to Market
What is the new currency that sets a business on the path to success, you ask? Time is the answer.
In today’s highly digitized world, businesses are continually looking to speed up their digital transformation journey. You need to build an MVP as soon as possible to raise funding for further product development. And this is the primary reason why you need to choose the right language for your web application.
Python, as its official website quotes, is “powerful… and fast…”
Python comes with an excellent set of third-party libraries, modules, and packages to complete the projects faster with just a few lines of code compared to many other server-side languages like Java or PHP. Additionally, it helps businesses adopt an agile environment, where stakeholders quickly determine whether to proceed with the project or not.
The one aspect that goes in tandem with the web development process is Security Vulnerability. A study by OWASP Foundation describes SQL injection, cross-site request forgery, cross-site scripting, etc. to be among the most critical web application security vulnerabilities.
The cost and time to fix these vulnerabilities increase exponentially as you progress through the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
The graph indicates that it is 30x times more expensive to get rid of vulnerabilities during the post-production phase than during design, requirement identification, and architecture stage.
Thus, building a secure web application in today’s DevSecOps era is not a luxury, rather a necessity. When it comes to Python vs PHP, both are open-source technologies. Therefore, it is inevitable for CxOs to have doubts related to its safety.
However, when it comes to security, a business must choose Python over PHP. Python is the foremost choice of cybersecurity professionals for backend development. For instance, Django comes up with built-in security features, which helps in protecting the application from various sorts of security threats.
Moreover, numerous government agencies like the CIA rely (heavily) on Python as their secret hacking tool, as per WikiLeaks. Apart from the CIA, various other US organizations that store sensitive data use Python as their backend language: Department of Education, Department of the Navy, and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), to name a few.
On the other hand, PHP has had some frightful history when it comes to security. Although most of the security issues have been addressed due to robust community support, PHP fails in terms of security as compared to Python.
Application/Website speed is a vital factor that helps determine its performance and fluidity. A Google study says that 53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. Today’s era of experience relies on speed: it’s critical to release software to production multiple times a day.
The Python, as we mentioned, is fast and powerful. The Just-In-Time compiler of Python makes it faster than its competitor, PHP. One of the main advantages of JIT is that once the files get compiled, there is no further need for them to get recompiled.
On the other hand, PHP’s earlier versions, PHP 5.x, were much slower than Python. However, the release of PHP 7.x brought a turnaround, thereby improving the speed of applications significantly. With PHP 7, Zend Engine 3.0 was released, making PHP 7 two times faster than its predecessor.
The winner is PHP. All credits go to Zend Engine 3.0 of PHP 7. However, it’s important to mention here that PHP defeats Python just by a marginal difference.
Nowadays, web applications are not just restricted to developing simple portals or websites for information. Rather AI is also becoming an essential part of the web along with other emerging technologies. All businesses with online portals that provide services to their customers use advanced AI and machine learning algorithms.
Such algorithms not only help businesses in identifying their users more accurately, coupled with machine learning but also in identifying specific domains of their business that they should funnel their investments in.
Uber built an ML platform using python, called Michelangelo PyML (an extension of the initial Michelangelo product). This platform enables them to make predictions, both in online and offline mode, thereby solving day-to-day tasks. Users can validate models with PyML and then replicate them in Michelangelo for full efficiency and scalability.
Python has many libraries that are very strong and powerful as compared to libraries being provided by PHP. These libraries include assistance in all domains, including NLP (Natural Language Processing), image processing, and many others.
When products succeed, businesses grow, and as the business sees an upward trajectory, its user base grows too. In this case, it would become a priority for any business to have an application that easily adapts to the rapidly changing customer and market demands. Thus, it becomes important to choose an app development technology that can help your business in the scaling-up process.
In terms of scalability, the apps built on the Python framework offer high AI and ML capabilities, which leads to high scalability and easy adaption to evolving trends.
For instance, by using the Django framework, you can build scalable apps as this framework constitutes a series of wired-up and ready-to-go components that are decoupled (implies independent from each other). Thus, these components can be unplugged and replaced as per the varying demands of the business.
Instagram, for instance, features the world’s largest deployment of the Django web framework. The social networking service credits its decision of picking Python over PHP to the former’s reputation for simplicity and practicality.
Even when Instagram has doubled in size and felt the need to maximize its web service efficiency, Django has not just helped maintain simplicity and practicality, but also scale to handle millions of users.
On the contrary, PHP is less open to growing demands and new trends. Despite its continual improvement, PHP lags behind Python apps, thus losing the ‘Python vs PHP: Scalability’ battle.
Both PHP and Python have their advantages. While PHP is being used for web development for a long time, Python is taking over very rapidly. Python is a secure, versatile, and flexible technology and is one of the best options for machine learning and data analysis that offers businesses a wide range of opportunities.
The best PHP framework is the one that suits the requirement of your project. Both languages are easy to learn and are backed by large communities, elaborate documentation, and support. However, Python has emerged to be an invaluable tool for enterprises and startups alike.