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Python vs. PHP — the comparison of two popular programming languages

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Python and PHP are two popular programming languages available under an open-source license. These two programming languages have advantages and disadvantages; choosing the right one to meet your needs may prove difficult.

Which language is most appropriate for your project? Which does a better job, and in what situations?

Let's look at them and see which performs better in the Python vs. PHP clash.

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What is Python?

Python is both an object-oriented programming language and a general-purpose programming language used for web development. It's also often used for server-side scripting.

Python has been the most popular and widely used programming language for many years. Its everyday use cases include web and app development, data analysis, data science, scientific computing, machine learning, automation, and artificial intelligence.

Python is also considered a high-level programming language, meaning it resembles human language, making it easier for developers to understand and code.

Python (YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit) — advantages and characteristics

Why is Python so eagerly used? The list of advantages of Python is long, but the most important benefits are its ease of use, the high performance it provides to a developer, and the quality of the software. This popular language, which developers use in standalone programs and scripts, will make work more efficient and enjoyable.

Easy code maintenance and efficient language

Python is easy to read, which makes it easy to maintain — the number of changes you'll have to make in the future won't be large. Moreover, it supports advanced scripting mechanisms that allow you to reuse the code. Python is a concise language requiring far fewer characters than, for example, C, C++, or Java.

Good, regardless of the platform

It doesn't matter if you use Windows or Linux: Python does well on all the major operating systems. Suppose you need to transfer Python from Linux to Windows. That may seem time-consuming, but it's usually enough to copy the script code between computers. That's because Python code is portable.


Developing code in Python is faster because the software written in it runs instantly. You don't have to use external tools and compilations. A compiler is a program that automatically translates code written in one language into equivalent code in another programming language. Such a process is called a compilation.

A lot of coding options

Python offers numerous options for coding portable graphical user interfaces, database access programs, or web systems.

Extensive library

Python contains a rich collection of built-in and portable options. This library allows you to handle a wide range of programming tasks at the application level, from design pattern matching to network-scripts (by script, we mean a program that doesn't require a transformation phase from text to executable form).

Developers also receive access to many extensions—small libraries and programs that support applications. You gain a tool for constructing websites or creating video games, etc.

YouTube's mascot - a white fluffy dog
Python was used to develop YouTube | Photo: Travis Wise / Flickr.com

Simple and Readable

Python's simple and clear syntax speaks in favor of it. It also comes with a consistent programming model. Python encompasses only a few basic concepts, so it's easy to understand, learn, and remember.

Python makes operations more manageable for a developer because it usually offers one obvious course of action, although there are many ways of performing tasks. In addition, there is a small set of consistent interactions in each area of the language.

Communication with other parts of an application

Thanks to numerous integration mechanisms, Python communicates efficiently with other parts of an application. What do you gain from this? You can use Python to extend and customize products according to your needs.

Enjoyable programming

From a developer's point of view, Python's huge advantage is the enjoyment of programming. It stems not only from its ease of use but also from its built-in collection of tools.

High quality and speed

With modules and object-oriented programming, Python focuses on quality.

Furthermore, Python performs well in terms of software speed. It achieves this with its simple syntax, dynamic types, lack of complexity, and built-in toolkit. Python is often called an object-oriented scripting programming language. That means it combines support for object-oriented programming with a focus on scripting.

The essence of object-oriented programming is to create a model of a problem being solved. Object-oriented programming reduces the risk of making mistakes when writing a program and enables code reuse.

Python disadvantages

Speed limitations

Python is a dynamically typed and interpreted language that suffers from slow code execution (it executes the code line by line). Its dynamic character requires more work; thus, it doesn't do well when time is the determining factor of web development projects. Unless time is of no concern to you, it would be best to consider other programming languages.

Not ideal for mobile computing

As mentioned, Python is mainly used for server-side programming. Its client-side capabilities could be improved, making it easier to develop mobile applications. Some frameworks simplify the mobile development process, but Python isn't recommended.

High memory usage

Python utilizes vast amounts of memory, and this drawback makes it an unsuitable choice for building apps that need to be optimized in terms of memory.

Runtime errors

The dynamic typing feature results in a common appearance of runtime errors. Runtime errors occur during the program launch. In Python, this issue is caused by constantly changing data variable types.

What is PHP?

PHP is an interpreted and server-side scripting language designed for developing websites and web applications. Similar to Python, it's also a general-purpose language popular among developers. PHP can also be embedded into HTML. Compared to other scripting languages, PHP is more straightforward and considerably faster to code.

PHP code needs an interpreter to work correctly. This allows a device to understand and process the instructions included in the code.

PHP (WordPress, Facebook, Wikipedia, Tumblr) — advantages and characteristics

PHP is a scripting programming language for web platforms, applications, and websites. However, it is most commonly used to generate code for websites.

Most web applications use PHP for the Backend (server-side), and the language constantly evolves. Today, it can offer good performance and a substantial catalog of libraries.

Web applications

PHP's main advantage is the efficient programming of web applications. It is optimized for use cases and is constantly being developed in that direction.

Dynamically typed language

PHP also features high-level, loose, and dynamic typing, which means that a variable (an object in programming that stores various types of data necessary for a program to run) can change types without being rigidly specified.

Open-source code

Access to PHP's open-source code is essential. I should add that Facebook developed its own language based on PHP called Hack.

Drawing of Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg developed Facebook in PHP | Photo: Flickr.com

Easy to learn

PHP is relatively easy to learn because it uses a syntax similar to that of a language such as C or C++.

Object-oriented programming

As in Python, you also get support for object-oriented programming mechanisms.

Low cost of the environment implementation

You should consider the low cost of the environment implementation. The implementation process consists of transforming an abstract description of a system or program written in a specific programming language.

Other advantages of PHP include high stability, speed, and performance when working with various types of available servers and different database engines.

PHP disadvantages

Limited customization

PHP offers some level of customizability, and overall, it's a good choice for web development; however, if you want your site to utilize such technologies as machine learning and artificial intelligence, you have to find a very skilled developer or consider another programming language.

Low security

PHP is an open-source scripting language, and because of that, it's vulnerable to exploits and attacks. Your code will be available to the general public, and everyone will be able to see it, thus making it vulnerable to all sorts of attacks. Examples of some common PHP security vulnerabilities include SQL injections, session hijacking, authentication bypass, or source code revelation.

Not versatile

As mentioned, PHP's strength lies in web development, and venturing beyond it may prove challenging. It's not recommended for software development since it's slower and less effective than other options. Building large-scale applications with it is also cumbersome.

Limited debugging options

Compared to other scripting languages, PHP has issues properly identifying errors, and its debugging tools are limited. This also lowers its security.

Python vs. PHP — the comparison

Ease of learning

Python is a much easier language to learn than PHP. It takes little time to understand, and it's perfect for learning the basics of programming. When you compare Python with other programming languages, you'll discover that writing programs with it is much faster and simpler. That stems from its simple syntax and readable code.

Today, Python is the most straightforward programming language. However, it's worth noting that PHP was designed only for web apps, not general-purpose use (although that bit is debatable), such as developing simple standalone programs.

Community support

Programming often poses problems, so it's essential to have the help of the community that has gathered around a particular language. Both Python and PHP supporters have no reason to complain —both communities are vast and eager to help each other.


Both languages offer extensive documentation. In addition, in the case of both PHP and Python, there is no shortage of numerous information sites and discussion forums, which are rich sources of knowledge.


Python and PHP are free under an open-source license, which allows you to customize your code.


The Python programming language has well-developed support for libraries and almost all types of applications. While PHP doesn't fare badly, in a PHP vs. Python comparison, Python definitely wins. A significant advantage of Python is its libraries that support increasingly popular machine learning, such as TensorFlow, Keras, Theano, and Scikit Learn. They're all fast and easy to use.

Mermaid Ariel strangled by a python
Python has a slight advantage over PHP | Fot. Flickr.com


PHP performs better in terms of speed. The latest version of PHP is almost three times faster than a typical Python program. That can be especially important in a banking system where millions of page views are generated daily.

Frameworks for web applications

Django, Flask, Pylons, or Pyramid are the most popular Python-based web frameworks used for web development. In the case of PHP, these are Codeigniter, Yii, Laminas (Zend), Laravel, or Symfony.

Developers are particularly fond of Django because it's characterized by high speed, scalability, security, ease of use, and broad applicability. As for PHP, Codeigniter, and Laravel are the most commonly chosen web frameworks.


Python offers a PDB debugger (Python Debugger), while PHP provides the XDebug package. Both packages rely on the most commonly used debugging functions, which puts them at the same level.

Python vs. PHP. Summary

In the PHP vs. Python clash, Python has a slight advantage over PHP, a more complicated language to learn. However, this should be fine for an experienced developer.

You can use Python in any field—from simple scripts that "glue" other programs together to web development and video game programming, robotics, machine learning, and data analysis. Meanwhile, PHP will work well for building dynamic web applications, content management systems, and more.

We also recommend our article "Wireframe, mockup, and prototype: Why are they important, and how do they differ?"

Title image: laboutiquedupetitprince.com

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Journal / JPG / Burakowski - avatar
Author: Piotr Burakowski
Business and technology journalist, publishing since 2006.
Reviewer: Dymitr Romanowski

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