What is PHP?
PHP, also known as Hypertext Preprocessor, is one of the most popular scripting languages in the world. It is famous because of its flexibility and a wide range of innovative features. If you want to create database-enabled dynamic website really fast – PHP can deal with it. By the way, represented features and updates are available for free!
It was created in 1994 by a young and ambitious programmer Rasmus Lerdorf. The first public release was in 1995. Today PHP is an indisputable leader of the internet that takes more than 80% market share.
PHP is one of the most powerful and easy to pick up among other programming languages. It is introduced to solve different complex mathematical calculations. It is considered as one of the most important programming languages. However, it comes with its disadvantages along with advantages. Let's take a look at a few of them:
5 Strengths of PHP
Cross-platform. As a developer, you don’t have to worry about the OS the user is working on. Its code runs on each and every operating system on Earth. It is used on the server side widely, so you can find a good provider without obstacles;
Easy to use. If you are new to programming, you can learn it without problems in a short time. The syntax is quite similar to C programming language, so if you are familiar with C, you can easily pick up PHP as well;
Speed. It is a quite vital part of web development. This is a great advantage of PHP among the other languages. It becomes even faster after the release of version PHP 7.x, which is 2 times faster than 5.x;
Database connectivity. By using PHP you can access more than 20 different databases;
Simple maintenance. You can easily write, read, test and maintain and modify your code further.
5 Weaknesses of PHP
Global Extensions. PHP requires bridges to the C code to be installed to he executable. To do this, you have to modify your global config file. Due to this fact, it is quite difficult to get available extensions in hosted app scenarios;
Hiring PHP developer. The barrier of entry to the world of PHP is quite low, so if you are looking for a concept of who a “senior PHP developer is”, you’ll feel a little bit perplexed because of the deplorable value for money balance;
Language perception. People treat this language as an entry-level language that is insecure;
Too much job for work. A lot of companies need a developer who will create new code for them, as well as modify the code that is already in the place. Needless to say that such a job is time-consuming;
Bad code. Due to flexibility and forgiving traits, it is too easy to write a spaghetti code.
If you are looking for a specific language for your own project, you might be interested in the companies and projects that use this language!
Let's take a look at...
Top websites built with PHP
As we can see, some of the big players prefer PHP as well! Why is it so popular? PHP is a very strong website scripting language that allows the developer to create engaging and dynamic websites. PHP code can be simply improved with a wide range of frameworks and templates that can add some new features to the website. On the other hand, writing PHP code really boring and time-consuming business. As a developer, you'll desperately look for a way that will save your precious time. Of course, I'm talking about PHP libraries. Let's take a look at a few examples:
Some good PHP libraries for developers
- PHP CPP Library. This one is a C++ lib that can be very useful when you need to develop PHP extensions. PHP CPP comes with user-friendly classes, which can help you make a native extension for PHP. It is also has a well-made documentation that will help to sort out how to use it;
- Mink. With this library, you can test your own web applications and how it interacts with browser properly. It can remove the API differences between types of browser emulators. That's why Mink gives you an accurate testing environment. Moreover, it comes with Symfony2, Behat, and PHPUnit support.
- Faker. If you are looking for a good library that will create some well-made XML docs, bootstrap your database, anonymize data that is taken from a production service or for any kind of operation that uses generated fake data, Faker is for you!
- Geocoder. If you want to build a geo-aware app, Geocoder will help you with this issue. The abstraction layer, provided by this library is well down for geocoding manipulations. Geocoder is split in Provider and Http Adapter and is notably extensible;
- Ratchet. With this library, you can build bi-directional, real-time applications between servers and clients over WebSockets. With Ratchet you can build an event-driven application quick and easy.
What is Python?
Python is an enormously big snake that occurring in the tropics, hunting prey and plays a role of an antagonist in The Jungle Book by the famous author Rudyard Kipling.
In terms of web development, Python is a high-level, object-oriented, interpreted programming language. The scope of use is wide, the habitats of Python are located in such areas as scientific software, numeric and database programming, and internet scripting. And of course, this language comes with its own pros and cons.
5 Strengths of Python
Solid libraries support. Python comes with a variety of different standard libraries that covers such fields as web service tools, Internet, protocols, operating system interfaces, etc;
Integration Feature. It is easy to develop web service by calling COBRA or COM components due to the enterprise app integration;
Programmer’s productivity improvement. Python comes with a wide range of handy libraries along with a clean design with an object-oriented approach;
Productivity. Since Python comes with a solid process integration features, extensive control capabilities, and unit testing framework, you can easily improve the speed of your applications and its productivity. It is extremely useful, especially when it comes to building scalable network apps;
Third party modules support. PyPi provides a wide range of third-party modules, due to which you can interact with other platforms and languages.
5 Weaknesses of Python
Speed limitations. Due to the fact that Python is interpreted, it shows weak results when it comes to execution. If high speed is a high priority for your project, that could be a problem;
Mobile computing. From the perspective of server-side language, Python is a brilliant specimen. However, it is not that widely used on the client side. Due to this, it is rarely used when it comes to the building of smartphone-based app;
Design restrictions. We know that Python is a dynamically typed language, so you don’t have to indicate the type of variable that will be written in the code. In other words, it uses duck typing. Remember that old proverb: “If it looks like a duck, act like a duck, it must be a duck”? Well, that is neatly implemented in coding. However, such typing can raise different run-time exceptions;
Weak database access layers development. Comparing to such technologies like Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) and Java Database Connectivity (JDBC), Python’s database access layers seems kinda weak;
Too simple! Yes, it’s not a joke. Sometimes it is so simple that may cause problems, especially when you have to work with a Java syntax after a while.
Top websites built with Python
- Google (widely used in data science and machine learning projects)
Top Python Libraries
- TensorFlow is an open-source Python library that was designed for dataflow programming with multiple tasks. This mat library is widely used in machine learning apps by Google and a big number of science companies.
- Requests. This library allows a developer to send organic HTTP requests, without the need for manual work. You don’t have to add query strings into URL or to suffer for your POST data.
- OpenCV. This library is a perfect solution for commercial and academic use. It comes with Python, C++ and Java interfaces.
PHP vs Python: Analysis and Comparison
For now, it is enough time to become thoroughly familiar with both PHP and Python, so let’s compare them by such measures like performance, popularity, salaries, market share and more.
It is not a secret that PHP 7.x if pretty fast, so fast that it’s almost 3 times faster than a regular program written in Python. Performance speed can be a cornerstone for critical application. For example, if your core banking system performs a million processings on a daily basis, you’ll definitely want it to work 3 times faster, instead of 3 times slower. Thus, in terms of performance speed, PHP is unquestionable leader, leaving Python far behind.
However, note that in case if your application is simple, the scale is low, so time lag is not that significant. Say, that you’ll not feel the significant difference between 30 and 10 milliseconds for you general purposes.
You probably already know that both Python and PHP are the most popular programming languages. Furthermore, if certain project is not driven with these languages, client or project manager can consider them. For today, PHP is a huge dominator over the Internet and takes more than 80% of the global market.
It powers such websites like Wikipedia, Tumblr, Yahoo and Flickr. And, of course, Facebook is completely powered with PHP.
The peak of Python’s popularity was gained when Google considered Python for powering a number of its pig projects. Since then a wide range of industry giants, such Spotify, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Reddit started using Python to power their platforms.
Today you can see a dozens new projects started on a daily basis both with PHP and Python, so the current competition can be considered as “neck to neck”.
Let’s sort out, how much will PHP and Python developer earn in 2018 and take a look at the salary in India, in the United States, Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom in accordance to Glassdor
the United Kingdom
Let’s do some quick math. As we can see, average Python developer earns more than PHP developer:
for 22.67% in the US
86.67% in the UK
and 9.09% in Germany
At the same time, Indian Python developer earns 23.79% less than PHP developer, in Russia the numbers split equally.
A framework can provide dozens and dozens of useful functions that developer can use and implement his ideas without reinventing the wheel. PHP comes with a wide range of frameworks that can be used to create a general purpose website along with industry-specific apps. In this section, we are going to define the most popular and used frameworks, open-source projects and CMSes on Python and PHP.
What is framework and where it is used?
Framework (in our case web framework) is a straightforward way to build a web application by using capabilities of a language. The web framework is aimed to automate the overhead related to common activities that are performed in web programming. Both Python and PHP provide different web frameworks that provide different features and capabilities. Let’s take a look at some notable web frameworks by PHP and Python!
Top PHP frameworks:
- Laravel. This framework helps organize code and files, allows rapid app development and comes with the best documentation and great performance benchmarks;
- Code Igniter. It is a developer friendly framework that works independently (in other words, it doesn't any special support or dependencies);
- Symfony. Comes with high performance because of bytecode caching;
- Zend. This object-oriented framework is the best choice if you need enterprise applications that come with a wide range of components for feeds, validation, and forms;
- CakePHP. This framework supports PHP 5.5+ that perfectly fits commercial web-apps development (comes with MIT license);
As we can see, the advantages of PHP's frameworks are based on speed and simplicity. Laravel is undoubtedly the leader.
Top Python frameworks
- Django. It is a full-stack open-source Python framework that includes almost all existing useful features. Must-have for each and every pythonist!
- TurboGears. Another full-stack open-source data-driven web app framework. With TurboGears you can speed your extensible data-driven web-apps development;
- Web2py. This scalable and (you'll not believe it) open-source full-stack framework. It has its own IDE which includes a debugger, code editor, and much more;
- Flask. This framework is licensed under the BSD license and originally was inspired by framework by Ruby called Sinatra. With this framework, you can create a solid web app base. It is also customizable so the developer can set up it for any needs;
- CherryPy. This is the boss in terms of minimalism in the world of frameworks. Basically, when you build a web application with CherryPy, you actually building an autonomic Python app with a separate multi-threaded server.
It is a content management system which is implemented in a software app or a number of related programs that are used to create or write digital content. Of course, there are a lot of different CMS built with Python and PHP. If your project includes a lot of work with content, the right CMS is an important question. Let’s take a look at some notable CMSes provided by PHP and Python!
The best CMSes by PHP:
Content management systems are basically aimed to avoid the hand code writing. Thousands of marketing and corporate websites use CMSs along with numerous blogs, news sites, and e-shops. Let's take a look at the best CMSs by PHP
- Wordpress. This CMS manages to be both priceless and free at the same time. Today it is the largest blogging tool in the world that is used by millions;
- Joomla! Another open source award-winning content management system. It is easy to use and extensible for general purposes;
- Drupal. This CMS is built, supported and used by a huge community from all around the world;
- SilverStripe. This is a framework and CMS with the administration panel that allows a user to change specific parts of the site. This CMS is built on SilverStripe Framework;
- CakePHP. This one is a good tool for use in the commercial app area, due to MIT license.
As we can see, Wordpress is incredibly popular as long as it exists, but the whole picture shows that the whole market of PHP based CMSs is slowly falling.
The best CMSes by Python
- Django. If you want to build a solid, ultimate and elegant website rapidly, use Django. It also comes with powerful user-friendly templates, so you can easily separate the design, contents and python code;
- Ikaaro. As well as Django, this content management system is completely based on Python. Ikaaro offers you its juicy modules and seemingly unlimited capabilities as well as multiple GUI support;
- Mezzanine. This CMS is based on Django and feels like an extension of Python's framework. It comes with a simple architecture and a solid interface for managing;
- Kotti. Developers prefer Kotti because of its user-friendly nature and useful features. Another advantage is its ability to provide solid security mechanism and security-orientated approach, which scalability is enough to handle big data;
- Merengue. This CMS provides a lot of pluggable tools that can be used in developing dynamic web pages just in few codes!
Basically, the open-source project refers to a program, where its source code is open to the general public for use and modification. Generally, it is collaborative projects, where programmers modify upon the open source project, share their thoughts with the community, etc. Let's take a look at some notable open-source projects in 2018, based on PHP and Python!
Notable open-source PHP projects in 2018
Composer. A dependency manager;
monolog. Sends logs to files, inboxes, sockets, and databases;
LaravelS. Helps speed up Lumen or Laravel;
FreshRSS. A self-hostable aggregator that is able for free
Laravel-Swoole. HTTP server that will speed up your Lumen or Laravel app
Notable open-source Python projects in 2018
Birdseye. Simple and fast, graphical debugger;
Som-tsp. Self-organizing maps for the traveling salesman purposes;
Voluptuous. A data validation library;
Icecream. A simple print debugger for Python;
Binance-trader. An experimental cryptocurrency trading bot.
In accordance with datanyze.com, PHP is undoubtedly a leader in the worldwide market in terms of numbers of sites:
|PHP Websites||Python Websites|
|Alexa top 1m||735,553||12,862|
|Alexa top 100k||26,512||4,019|
|Alexa top 10k||1,921||1,095|
|Alexa top 1k||205||220|
|Alexa top 100||27||31|
However, as we can see, when we are coming closer to the significant scale, we can see that Pythons position is stronger and it is a leader in the Alexa top 100k. Sometimes big numbers don’t work well if your product doesn’t lead as the best, right? However, it all depends.
First of all, we should clearly understand that Python and PHP are two significantly different programming languages. They have different features, performance, and functionality. Let’s start with a simple one: PHP was designed as a fast server-side scripting programming language for web apps. Accordingly, it comes with a lot of handy built-in features for web development. PHP is good for developing web and desktop applications as well.
From the other side, Python is a great high-level programming language for general purposes. Due to its simple syntax, the programmer can implement his ideas with a readable and concise code. Unlike PHP, Python does not come with such built-in features assortment. Because of this, people are often arguing about speed and performance, comparing PHP and Python.
Let’s take a look at performance speed benchmark of Python and PHP from benchmarksgame-team:
38% 39% 85% 38%
33% 92% 26% 31%
100% 100% 100% 100%
98% 99% 99% 99%
0% 100% 1% 0%
76% 24% 1% 0%
First of all, speed and performance benchmarks are affected by code compilation processing. Python`s compiler converts the code into bytecode. This process repeats each time a file is updated or created. Due to this, it is unnecessary to recompile files again and again in future. The interpreter is easily getting access and fetch the .pyc files. Because of this, Python is faster than PHP in terms of code compilation. However, PHP developer can just increase the speed of his applications with a wide range of caching systems.
You can enhance the speed of your PHP code if you focus on the algorithm, more precisely, on its implementation. There are a number of ways to do this, the only thing you have to do is to find the best one to improve your app’s performance. In the case of Python, you don’t have such variability, because you have to follow certain coding conventions, and it affects the speed of Python’s app.
What about the similarities? Both PHP and Python applications speed is impacted by I/O operations (input/output). For example, the number of milliseconds required to access files or database will affect the performance speed of web application in direct relation.
Both PHP and Python implementations always written in C++ or C, and the number of time required to access them also affect the speed.
It’s no secret that data security and user information is a debate topic in IT. Python considered as a safest (arguably) programming language, so you can use it to write the weakest pieces of code for your software. You’ll never regret! PHP has a number of issues with security, which can be handled only with help of third-party tools. On the other hand, PHP has a large community, so all those issues can be addressed pretty fast in a variety of ways.
Looking for a new code to learn? It might be a tough question for you. The variety of programming languages can make your brain freeze. Let’s sort it out!
You can find a lot of people, who will recommend Python for beginners. A for 2018, it is the programming language number one in the top United States Universities. With Python you can build web and desktop apps, moreover, it has some brilliant tools for data mining purposes. It is also widely used in scientific computing, bioinformatics, and data analysis.
On the other hand, we have a brilliant server-side scripting language called PHP, which is fairly considered as a beginner-friendly programming language. You can easily understand, what certain piece of code will do, so you can pick it up in short terms. Literally, almost every website is built with PHP due to its web development specification.
A learning curve is a definition of how easy or difficult is to pick up a certain language. We are talking about programming languages, so our learning curve includes syntax, tools and how they transform the certain design into a working code.
Python is slightly on top over PHP. As for a beginner, Python code will be more readable and understandable for you. PHP is not so welcoming for newbies, at least, it has such a reputation. PHP rules are more strict and there is almost no room for a mistake.
Python is not that tough in terms of mistakes when it comes to formatting and it is unlikely that code will crash because of a small mistake. Such a state of affairs makes Python a better solution for a person, who is looking for a first programming language to learn. Furthermore, with Python, you will understand the foundation of programming.
However, it doesn't mean that you have to rule out PHP. Its community has made a huge effort to make PHP beginner-friendly, at least, as much as it possible.
PHP vs Python for outside the web development
We already know that both Python and PHP are used in a lot of different fields, not only in web development. Let’s take a look at a few examples of how do they do when it comes to web scraping and machine learning.
Basically, web scraping is a software technique aimed at extraction information from one or another website. It is mostly used to make unstructured HTML data structured (spreadsheet or database). You can perform scraping both with Python and PHP, as well as with almost every existing programming language. Let’s take a look how it works with Python and PHP in a few simple examples.
Scraping with Python
Python comes with a great open-source web framework called Scrapy. With Scrapy you can extract the data from a specific web page based on XPath selectors. Scrapy helps you to build, modify and scale large projects related to crawling. It comes with Selectos that help you extract data from the website. Furthermore, it has a great speed benchmark and handles the requests asynchronously. If you want to adjust crawling speed, you can use Auto-throttling mechanism as well.
Scrapy is a fast, open-source web crawling framework written in Python, used to extract the data from the web page with the help of selectors based on XPath.
Main features including generated feed export in such format as XML, CSV, and JSON. It comes with a built-in support for extracting selected data from different sources with CSS and XPath expressions and it’s based on crawler, so you can extract data from a page automatically.
Why is Scrapy so good? First of all it fast, extensible and powerful cross-platform application framework (works with Linux, MacOS, Windows, and BSD). Every request is processed asynchronously and scheduled. You can upload your projects and control spiders with JSON service with a built-in service called Scrapyd.
Scraping with PHP
PHP comes with a built-in library called cURL, with which you can download media files from multiple websites. This library allows you connect to multiple protocols and servers as well. With cURL you can transfer data using HTTP, FTP, etc.
Machine learning became one of the hottest topic in the tech world as well as neural networks. When it comes to machine learning, Python one of the best languages for machine learning, due to its simplicity, power and, of course, because of tons of machine learning libraries, leaving PHP far behind.
Let’s take a brief look at the most popular libraries, provided by Python:
TensorFlow. A good neural network library from Python. It was developed by the GoogleBrain team with the Google’s MIR (Machine Intelligence Research). It is sort of a mix between such libraries like Blocks and Lasagne and symbolic computation libs like Theano. Probably, you are already familiar with models built with TensorFlow models: they are implemented in Google photos and Google voice search.
Scikit-Learn. This library was designed to work with numerical and scientific libraries, such as NumPy and SciPy with higher efficiency. Basically, you can bring machine learning in a production system with this library.
Theano. With this library, you can optimize, define and evaluate mathematical exceptions that involve arrays with multiple arrays and you can do this effectively. This library probably can be considered as the heaviest deep learning library for today. It has a lot of similar to NumPy features in terms of operations and mathematical expressions.
What about PHP? It provides PHP-ML, a fresh machine learning library. This library comes with algorithms, preprocessing, neural network, cross-validation, feature extraction and even more different features. PHP-ML requires PHP version >= 7.1..
Let's take a look at a simple example, like this classification:
For now, PHP-ML is on the development stage, but you can install it anyway with:
PHP vs Python for different applications
We already know that Python is mostly used in general-purpose and high level programming, and PHP is used (mostly) in web development. They’re both open-source, they have an enormous developers communities and can be extended with Java, C and C++. Hower, there are a lot of differences that you have to consider before you start developing your next app.
WIth PHP you can develop a wide range of GUI and command-line interface applications, as well as eCommerce applications, Flash components and data representation graphics.
On the other hand, GUI applications are where Python is the best. Furthermore, you can build enterprise applications, web applications, as well as operating systems.
Let’ check out a few examples of Python and PHP application development and how it can be implemented.
Both PHP and Python are widely used in e-Commerce all around the world. Let’s figure out, which programming language is better for this field.
Python for eCommerce
As an entrepreneur who is looking for a way to establish an eCommerce website, you have to look for a developer who is capable to deliver a highly-functional eCommerce website. If your choice fell on Python developer - you’ll never regret.
Why? Because of Django. This web framework promises a wide range of tools and a solid functionality, with which developer can create a tailor-made application and that can be pretty helpful in the development of eCommerce solution.
PHP for eCommerce
PHP is the leader of eCommerce market due to its simplicity and CMSes that help handle all the operations. They are scalable and user-friendly, which is important when it comes to content management. With PHP you can setup templates, databases, pages, and layouts.
Both Python and PHP can provide safe eCommerce product with a great functionality and scalability. The decision depends on details of your project and your requirements.
Database driven applications
Today database driven applications are all over tech world. Specifically, we are talking about applications that interact with database engines with SQL support. Let’s figure out, which language is better fora database application.
It is not uncommon that most of the applications these days are interacting with the database these days. Especially with RDBMS based engines( DB engines that support SQL). Like any other languages, Python also provides native and 3rd party libraries to interact with the database. Normally you have to write SQL queries for CRUD operations. That’s OK but at times it happens that things get messy:
Python and Peewee
That’s where Peewee comes to the game. It is expressive and, at the same time small ORM with sqlite, mysql and postgresql support. Peewee is not the only one ORM for Python. Django comes with its own ORM lib, and let’s not forget about SQLalchemy. With PeeWee, work on databases turns into pleasure: it has a small learning curve and footprint, so you can start using Peewee for your database driven application just within a few minutes.
PHP and MySQL
With PHP, you have a wide range of database products from MS Access, PostgreSQL to MySQL and Oracle. Throughout the years MySQL showing that it can be spectacularly popular when it comes to PHP developer’s preference to build a database driven application. MySQL is free to use, it comes with the GPL license, so you get a price advantage over mostly expensive commercial options. Furthermore, it is open-source, so you can deal with bugs. Due to the fact that MySQL is natively supported by PHP, you don’t have to care about additional modules.
In our opinion, it seems like Python will have a much brighter future than PHP. There are will be now mistaken if you’ll switch or start your programmers life with Python. PHP is definitely oriented on the web platform, while Python is not. Furthermore, Python already comes with a great solution both form web and software called Django. It is already extended for advances in fields like machine learning, data science, etc.
When Python is better than PHP, and when PHP is better than Python?
- PHP is worse designed than Python. It is not as elegant as Python and not that deep if you consider it in terms of language. On the other hand, Python needs a template library to be mixed with HTML, while there is no such problem with PHP;
- The learning curve of PHP is much lower than Python has, but it is okay only at first glance. As a developer, you should understand that if you working with a shallow source (like PHP), you'll push it to the limit pretty soon. Yes, Python is deeper and its capabilities are deep as well;
- Python comes with better frameworks than PHP. On the other hand, PHP has a proper encapsulation, while Python doesn't;
- The syntax is quite simpler in Python. Because of this, the code is much more readable and it is easy to write in Python. Some pieces of code may be so elegant that you probably would want to show it to somebody!
- Python is fulfilled with simplest debugging tools, but doesn't have live docs, unlike PHP;
- Python is pretty good when it comes to package management. This could helpfully work as a glue between your projects. On the other hand, PHP uses curly braces for code blocks that could prevent a bunch of exceptions;
- PHP is not that general as Python. You may think that the fact that PHP is more suitable for the building of web pages is a trump card for web-developer. But, as I mentioned above, sooner o later you'll meet some sort of “glass ceiling” in terms of pushing your programming language to the limits, where Python is nearly incomparable;
- PHP is easy to learn for former C programmers. Python is also a great decision for beginners, due to the simplicity of its syntax;
- Language semantics can be changed by global configuration parameters, which could make deployment and portability much more complicated. On the other hand, Python has a lack of commercial support, despite the fact that it is an open source project, but this situation is slowly changing, though;
- PHPs community of users and developers is much bigger than Python has. But, with Python, it is so easy to construct applications by importing crucial functions and testing.
Python vs PHP: the Bottom Line
We hope that this article will help you clear your doubts and prejudice related to two popular programming languages. With the mentioned facts, stats, advantages and disadvantages you can now choose wisely (we hope, at least) and select the right language for your business or study.
If you are a beginner, try both of these languages in order to feel the difference on your own in accordance with the industry you want to work with.