In today’s highly disruptive technology world, PHP and Python are the two most popular server-side languages that most businesses prefer. However, choosing a side in the “PHP vs Python” debate isn’t easy. While a massive number of websites are programmed in PHP, Python has been witnessing a steep upward trend for the past two years.
If you’re wondering whether Python development is suitable for your project or if you should stick to PHP, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ll open the post with some basics about the two languages. Then, we’ll proceed to the comparison, in which we’ll evaluate PHP and Python across five factors:
- Speed to Market
Let’s dig in.
PHP vs Python: The Basics
Let’s start with some fundamentals of each language.
PHP is a scripting language, first released in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf. Though most commonly used for web development, PHP is a multi-purpose programming language. The name of the language originally stood for “Personal Home Page”. Later on, it became a recursive acronym meaning “PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.” Over the years, PHP has grown to become one of the most popular technologies used in web development, though its design has attracted some criticism.
Python is a multi-purpose, high-level programming language. It was first released in 1991, being initially developed by Guido van Rossum. Over time, Python has become one of the most popular programming languages, being adopted by many household names of the tech industry. Through the use of frameworks—such as Django, Flask, and Web2Py—programmers can leverage Python for web development.
Beside being very popular among system administrators, for instance, Python is one of the most used languages in data science and data analysis, due to the number of great libraries built with the language for these usages. Tweet This
However, Python is a very versatile language. Through the years, developers over the world have contributed to the Python ecosystem, creating a number of tools and libraries to solve problems over a variety of domains. Besides being very popular among system administrators, for instance, Python is one of the most used languages in data science and data analysis, due to the number of great libraries built with the language for these usages.
Python vs PHP: Comparison
There has been an all-out cold war between Python and PHP 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 new 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. For instance, Django is one of the most famous frameworks for web development written in Python. It leverages the MVC (model-view-controller) pattern to allow developers to quickly create applications with a nice separation of concerns and great reusability.
PHP also comes with its own set of tools, including libraries and frameworks. In the PHP camp, the most popular framework is Laravel, which also adopts the MVC pattern and comes pre-packaged with many useful features for development, such as authentication, routing, templating, and more.
So, for this criterium, we have a draw.
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 the design, requirement identification, and architecture stage.
When it comes to security, Python is the most recommended choice for businesses. For instance, the Django framework comes up with built-in security features, which help 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 a 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.
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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 web development 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.
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. Tweet This
So, what is the best application development programming language between Python vs PHP? It solely depends on your business and functional requirements.
You can consider Python if you are planning to implement machine learning codes or require Unicode support. On the other hand, if you are planning for web development and server-side scripting projects, PHP is the way forward.
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