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(4+1) Reasons to Choose Python Over PHP for Your Next Big Project

Reasons Why to Choose Python Over PHP for Your Next Project

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?

Stack overflow php vs python

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…”

Top Python frameworks and libraries

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.

python vs php on speed to market

2. Security

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.

Cost to fix vulnerabilities

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.

python vs php on security

3. Performance

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.

Melody Meckfessel on importance of fast software release

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.


python vs php on performance

4. Versatility

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.

Flexibility vs. resource efficiency tradeoffs in Michelangelo python vs php

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.

python vs php on versatality

5. Scalability

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.

python vs php on scalability

Conclusion

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.

Engage Net Solutions for your next PHP or Python project

Sunil Goyal

About the Author

Sunil finds his forte in defining software architectures. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, he has contributed to several leading projects. He loves spending time with friends and ensures to do so even on a hectic day.

Leave a Comment

Wole

12:10 PM, Jun 17, 2020

No write-up can be more biased and prejudicial.

Chris

1:43 PM, May 22, 2020

4+1. Ok, 5 points.

Points 1, 4 and 5 are actually the same: "All the hot machine learning stuff gives python first-class citizenship". Heck yes, that's true, and even playing around doing fun stuff, python is getting more and more involved in my workflows because tensorflow nets and friends are just so fun! I think if you build a website in PHP there will come a point where you introduce some python tooling. Imagine thinking that php couldn't be used for web scraping.
Python wins here. But it's just one reason, not three.

Point 2 hasn't convinced me that either language is safer than the other. You mention "SQL injection, cross-site request forgery, cross-site scripting, etc" as the focus. PHP has protections for these things built into its standard library (eg PDO). There's no option here. You either develop with PDO, filters etc, or you reinvent the wheel! I don't think that python is any worse in this regard. Have you seen the damage you can do by writing careless C? Does it mean that C is less secure than PHP? Nah. I don't see how an intelligence agency using python shows that it's any more or less secure than every other language on the planet. The CIA is using python, not java. Java has a much stricter type system and forces you to be aware of certain types of exceptions. Can you say that java is inherently less secure than python just because the CIA (or your friend from school) is not using it? No.
There is no evidence in your post that either language is intrinsically more or less of a security risk than the other.

Point 3 is garbage. Python is ""slow"" and it always has been. Try using it in a quick shell script. Writing code loop for loop and value for value, any task you can think of will complete on php before the python interpreter is even fully loaded. Even java executes faster than python. PHP7, what? No, try PHP5. "PHP’s earlier versions, PHP 5.x, were much slower than Python"? Rubbish! Even with php5 it was normal to use an opcode cache - php executes bytecode. Why the bizarre implication that PHP can't do any form of compilation? It's a stateless bytecode machine. Python can't compile the entrypoint, PHP can. Say no to drugs.
I do agree, however, that php wins this one.

Also it's pretty strange to cherry-pick a few sites and say "these use python therefore python is better". Facebook was largely built on PHP. They were attached enough to create hacklang and the hiphop virtual machine. Things that were written in PHP have been ported or transpiled to compiled languages to increase capacity. Does Wikipedia run its mediawiki software on python? No, it's PHP. Check their article Programming_languages_used_in_most_popular_websites (which I don't think lists their own site) and you see that most big sites do not use python! About the same penetration there as PHP. So really I can hand-pick sites to say whatever I want, even that C++ is the best language for web.

Anyway, all-in-all you make 3 points. Evaluating them sensibly, one goes to python (machine learning), one goes to php (speed) and one is not even a language-level issue (security).

Now me, I'm enjoying python a lot more than php right now. I feel a little more comfortable leaving python up as a long-running application. It's got a bazillion GUI modules which just don't make sense in PHP, and it's really mature in terms of interacting with C symbols from within python, or embedding python in other applications.

Great article, has generated a lot of discussion. But your arguments lack substance or foundation. They're split into points but the points are redundant and full of fluff and buzzwords.

Anyway, I wouldn't try to steer anyone away from writing in python or php, provided they were playing fun and responsibly. Sometimes you're going to find that PHP is a lot easier to handle, and sometimes you're going to find that PHP is just a stupid choice. Sometimes python will offer what you need through just 4 lines of code, and sometimes it just won't have what you want. Personally, I pick a language because I want to use tool x which is well supported by it. I don't pick a language because I think it's some panacea for speed and security or because I think it has pretty syntax.

Kieran Grosvenor

3:54 PM, Feb 10, 2020

You clearly do not know anything about web development if you think python is better then PHP for MVC apps, why would you want to worry about indentation? If you are going to use Python use it for machine learning or something it was intended for.

How is Python my versatile? I can install php with ease on almost all servers, most come with php and apache installed by default, your points are mostly invalid in this article...

George

9:59 AM, Feb 04, 2020

Lol...

“ the reason being the flexibilities which python provides such as the absence of pre-defining data types of variables, dynamically bindness and many others.”

Disregarding, the very informative “many others” point, dynamic variables and bindness (which is not a word) are literal descriptions of PHP as well.

Rafael

7:51 PM, Sep 17, 2019

I'm a python/php developer and Love both languages. I'd suggest anyone who is starting to try Python over PHP but.. I strongly desagree wehn you say that PHP comunity is no as large as Python's.

Khoa Pham

3:10 PM, Aug 27, 2019

The funny thing is this website was built by WordPress :))
Anyway, i love both PHP and Python

jenster

2:17 AM, Jul 26, 2019

So far the only thing that really turns me off from Python are the endless stream of articles like this and every IT person I've ever met insisting that it is just so superior to PHP. Python pushers aren't really doing the language much of a service with their superiority complex.

If you want to promote Python, how about supporting (or starting) hosting companies that offer Python-specific servers and services. Or help to develop Python's web- and security-related tools and functions to make it more viable for straight web development. Better yet, take your case to CEOs and Project Managers - you know, the people who actually decide which types of projects to develop (and usually which languages to develop them in).

The fact is, PHP is the clear winner because it dominates 99% (or more) of the market - and has done so for well over a decade. A budding developer has choices. He can learn PHP and have thousands of jobs to choose from developing real projects in the real world to solve real problems (no matter how ugly). Or he can learn Python and feel good about himself for writing "pretty" code. I agree, it might be more elegant code - but that doesn't much matter much if nobody is buying it. At least for those of us who care about supporting ourselves (and our families).

In summary, savvy developers react to market forces and learn to do what the market actually desires - and create things in the real world. Idealists, educators, and commentators then get the luxury to sit back in their high towers and criticize them for daring to create something because they didn't use the most ideal tools to do it. Tale as old as time.

Antoine

3:46 AM, Jul 10, 2019

While PHP7 kill Python eaaaasily, look for PHP8.

It will be a game changer.

I can't say it will better than an node backend, but this will clearly kill a couple of web backend language.

PS: this is so much funny people think that PHP is ONLY for web ?.

I just finished an React Native project using PHP rest API (my backend was already made) and this is now on Android, iOS and Windows using PHP as backend.

Fast and secure.

Bart

10:21 PM, Jun 28, 2019

I work in php webdev about 13 years, for about 6 I use python for iot and ml. I relay have to say few words:
1. Each language is so elegant as developer is, and if you look around You can see both good and bad examples. So point 1 is not true. (no winner)
2. My first language was C so in my case PHP was VERY easy and i think in general for anyone whit C-like background PHP wins. So in point two it's depend of individual background. (no winner)
3. I use Symfony, Django and Flask. Picking winner is easy and it is Symfony. Why? Easy, robust, well documented, clean. (PHP winner)
4. Most people says that python is easy to read - probably they did not see code that was written as "write and forget". But it is same as first point - developer depend. It true that python force you to do indentation, but ( it may by my C background ) i relay prefer " { } " (no winner)
5. Are we again in point 2 or in 4? :) (no winner)
6. Did you use debug in Symfony ? Probably no :) (PHP winner)
7. Did you ever see composer? Get it on https://getcomposer.org/ :) But its true PIP is awesome (Python winner)
8. OK, lambda is great, in php you have anonymous functions ;) (no winner)
9. True, php is mostly for web, while python is good for prototyping everything else. (PHP winner)
10. Python have big community around python and everything, php have smaller community around php and webdevelopment :) (no winner)
11. You forget about hosting (PHP winner)
12. You forget about security (PHP winner)

Let's say this clean webdevelopment - PHP (plus JS on fronend :) ) else ( if writing in C/C++ take to long ) Python.

Ravi Kumar

1:37 PM, Jun 25, 2019

With the help of python programming you can easily makes your website in a better way. As its a advanced programming you will get to also work in AI, Machine Learning.

Mitesh Sharma

7:15 PM, May 17, 2019

Python and Php both are great langages. Php is much more in web development but Python has much wide sectors like web development, ai, machine learning etc.

Christoper Stalin

12:59 PM, May 13, 2019

very useful blog, nice explanation, but little difficult to understood the content.

Usman

10:15 AM, May 11, 2019

Graeme you are 100% right

TK

11:56 AM, Apr 30, 2019

Biased much? I'm familiar with PHP and am learning python for its use in machine learning and blender scripting. This article caught my eye but did such a poor job of arguing that python is viable for web development that considering it over PHP is clearly just silly unless for some reason in particular python was needed for an unusual project.

And the irony of this trash being posted on a wordpress site is also a nice touch. lol

Ferdinand

4:26 AM, Apr 08, 2019

This article triggers me! It makes me cringe really. Badly written, no basis! Just bad. I bet whoever wrote this is a die-hard python fan, or not really programming in php.

BK

10:11 PM, Mar 15, 2019

I use both PHP and Python on a regular basis, You're going to have a hard time convincing me that a programming language that uses whitespace for structure is superior and more elegant. Sure, I'll give python credit in that it's maybe easier for someone with no previous experience in real structured programming languages to learn. That's really it's ONLY advantage though. Python is not more robust or powerful than PHP, it's just the latest fad for script kiddies and people with little to no actual programming experience.

j

12:42 AM, Mar 09, 2019

You don't even mention Laravel?? Halfway through this "article," I had to scroll up to look at the date because I figured it was 10 years, or more, older...I stopped reading when I realized it was written a few months ago. And... "but there probably aren’t any code bases using it to the extent that PIP...does" ... o.O are you high? You're trying to say pip is superior and in more production environments than composer?!? Wtf? You are clearly a python developer trying to get noticed and no nothing about modern PHP and seemingly not that much about OOP or web development in general, either.

Nwakasi Stephen

10:07 AM, Feb 25, 2019

Starting out web development with Django is probably not a good idea if you want to understand "web programming." A huge part of the work has been done for you. You don't even see the logic sometimes, but it works. So with Django, you do not need to write a lot of back end logic, just stick to the Django-rules.

I am going to say here that anyone who wants to program the web and also wants to know how and why things are done the way they are should start with something else, not a framework. And PHP is a good start.

Ananya Roy

7:54 PM, Feb 07, 2019

This is so ridiculous. Kindly read the benefits of PHP because there are many.

jim

9:46 PM, Jan 29, 2019

I am really surprised at how bad this article is. The author clearly does not have any knowledge of PHP, OOP or modern PHP frameworks. For instance, the use of lambdas. PHP does support lambdas but you simply don't need them in OOP.

Graeme

1:33 PM, Jan 10, 2019

And what about the disadvantages? Like the fact that PHP is easy to run on most modern hosting servers without much setup, yet Python is not and requires more expensive hosting packages to install the necessary software to compile and run your code? Not gonna lie, I was hoping for a more wholistic argument to help me with my problem, not your “python-is-better” article.

B Chast

12:47 AM, Jan 08, 2019

It is not PHP or Python, but which one works better for the project you are working on. People should have the freedom to choose for themselves whatever is going to work best for them. Both languages are easy to learn and a developer doesn't have to choose one or the other nowadays. Why not both? PHP has advantages over Python for simple websites and doesn't rely upon some IDE for web development like Python (unless you want to code all of that yourself).

Fang Hao

1:35 PM, Dec 17, 2018

You clearly dont know much about modern PHP

Sunday Adejoh

2:02 AM, Nov 03, 2018

Good evening sir, am a young aspiring developer from Nigeria, please just tell me which to learn PHP or Python??

Daniel Craig Jallits

7:31 AM, Sep 13, 2018

Most of your arguments regarding PHP are severely outdated. Since 2012, the language that has made the most significant advancements is PHP.

For instance:

Composer beats the snot out of PIP for package management.

PHP 7 is a complete smoke show compared to previous versions, and I’m stoked that a JIT compiler is finally being included in v8.

Laravel right now is the clear winner for PoC development and Symfony for Enterprise applications.

Forget Drupal, WordPress or Drupal as those are applications and do not properly represent PHP as a whole. Those are just segments of a much wider, active and thriving user base, that is not nearly as toxic as some of the other language communities I’ve been involved with.

Mohammad Ashrafuddin Ferdousi

3:59 AM, Aug 19, 2018

Nice writing and I am writing you at 2018! :)

I agree with you only with the last point. But I seriously think you should look at 5.6 or greater, specifically php 7.2. You may also check PSR. In context of programming and better programming practice php 7 is playing a great role. Now-a-days php libraries are glue and exchangeable! These all are amazing for programmers' community.

The main problem I find is lack of good php developers. As php is a forgiving language even now, lots of people start programming in php and able to make something visible! They need to be trained up with professional software engineering technique and best practices.

Otherwise, php has lots of features like type hinting, interface, traits and obviously class. If someone follow the correct techniques, this is even better language than ruby or python in context of web development.

In theory, lots of people says about needle haystack issue. But with a good IDE its not so much bigger issue! Even python have "self" which is a design mistake and its not a big deal. At day end, we produce softwares by writing codes. If we have enough knowledge, we make things correct!

Thanks!

William Taylor

2:21 PM, Aug 17, 2018

I have been a programmer since 1974, just looking too deepen my Python experience as I think about converting some Php AI applications to Python to too merge too chatbot technologies together.

While I did enjoy reading this piece, but it was way short of providing anything more than opinion. If you do update it with some references or examples, please email me.

Cheers,

Harry Corner

7:26 PM, Aug 03, 2018

I liked the post. However, I felt during my read as though few of those points are rather opinionated than comparatively defined.

Ali

6:42 AM, May 08, 2018

I have spent 2 years building my online reservation system and backend Administrator portal using HTML/CSS on the frontend, javascript/jquery with ajax functions and php scripts. I understand Python is so popular now a days but I am having a tough time understand what part of my html + css + javascript/jquery + ajax + PHP I would replace with Python? And why would I replace it with Python?

Rik Roos

3:26 AM, Apr 04, 2018

I've learned Django and I agree that this is not something you will do on one rainy Sunday afternoon. But the logic of the framework is very consistent. After a couple of days you can build a library-site or a blog-site with authentication (login) and authorization (perform special tasks) options. But before learning Django you should learn HTML, CSS and Javascript well; my advice is ignore the frameworks like JQuery and Bootstrap; start with the basics.

James Patricia

5:36 PM, Mar 14, 2018

PHP is Server Side Scripting Language compatible with all known OS like Windows ,Linux etc .Nowadays, PHP frameworks are being extensively used by programmers to address to performance tuning issues faster and with ease.Thank you for sharing this amazing blog with us.It was very informative blog.

noshad

8:34 AM, Feb 28, 2018

that haha moment when you build your website with php wordpress just to write php is bad compare to other language

jc

9:50 PM, Dec 22, 2017

I agree to some of your point but package management in php is still light-years ahead of Python even at this time.
Look at composer and packagist and compare that to pi, pipy and virtualenv. good lord.

Gaurav

7:34 PM, Dec 14, 2017

Could you provide me some online websites names to learn python free of cost.

Paul Wakhungu

5:57 PM, Oct 11, 2017

The article seems to have been written by someone who has not had a first hand experience with PHP. Readability of code for example depends on how the code is structured, which of course is dependent on the developer. The entire article seems full of opinions rather than researched work.

Ram krishna

5:59 AM, Jun 03, 2017

I went through the content and portfolio, I am new in both the langs, i.e PHP & python.

I have a simple question to ask you.

By using any language, why not a 100% standalone product get build, without post support work?

EBIOWEI

1:02 PM, May 19, 2017

I am a total beginner who hasn't even known how to start, I want to know if Python can be used single handedly to build a cloth shopping website. Is it thesame Python 3 I want to start learning that I'll use, or is it that python for web development is a different thing than Python for normal apps like mobile? Please if this question is silly forgive me, I just need to know what's what.

Jayan Gopinath

7:08 PM, Apr 10, 2016

I agree with Python's ever increasing popularity. And innumerable no. of third party libraries in several different verticals are available for Python.
Thanks to Guido van Rossum.

Nope

9:23 PM, Oct 03, 2015

Nothing you've written about PHP is actually accurate, and the rest is opinion. But wonderfully "objective" little article you've written.

erm3nda

4:54 AM, Sep 02, 2015

Definetively yes, that's why i move from PHP to Python.

But for novices, PHP is the quick way to create their little app's :D

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