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What to Choose Between PHP and Python Backend Languages?

  • Rating — 4 (4 votes)
  • by Anastasiia Mikula
  • Updated on March 18, 2021
  • Read —
    12-13 minutes

Today companies of all sizes need the implementation of custom software solutions. The first and most important one is a website or mobile application. Both of these software solutions are connected to a server in the backend. So backend is an inevitable part of website development and backend developers usually perform the biggest part of creating the solution. 

If you decide to start developing your own website or mobile app, it is important to choose experienced backend developers who can manage all the process well. Talking about backend development, there are many programming languages that are used, among the most popular are:

  • Python
  • PHP
  • JavaScript
  • Ruby
  • C#

So when it comes to backend developers, there is one reasonable question – what framework should be used in your particular project. 

In this article, we are going to compare the two most common and frequently used languages for backend – PHP and Python. We will try to cover all their features, functions, and advantages for developing various software solutions.

What is PHP?

PHP is considered to be the most widely used open-source scripting language. Its main ability is to generate the dynamic page content. PHP as all backend languages is responsible for business logic. 

Moreover, it has the capability to collect data, set, and receive cookies. Also, PHP gives the ability to change, update or delete data in the database, set user access to this data, and encrypt it.

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PHP articles
Read more details about PHP, its versions, and performance in the articles “PHP 5.6 vs PHP 7 Performance Comparison” and “Is PHP Worthy of Developers Hate? ” on our blog.

Why should you choose PHP?

Before choosing PHP, you need to know what kind of solution you will have and if the features of PHP meet your goals.

  • PHP solution can work on various operating systems – Windows, Linux, Mac, Unix
  • This programming language provides compatibility with most servers 
  • PHP is considered to be easy to learn 
  • PHP works quickly and efficiently on a server-side in most cases
  • It supports different types of databases
  • PHP is an open-source framework and can be downloaded for free

What is Python?

Python is a high-level, interpreted, and object-oriented programming language that supports a large number of libraries. It is mostly used in web software development and system scripting for different domains. 

Also, Python can work on different platforms,  easy to use as it has a similar syntax to English.  

Python is mostly used for developing web applications, database systems connections as it handles big data, modifies files, and performs complicated calculations. Python sts high requirements to code typing that increases its readability.

So Python is mostly used for less experienced developers.

Why should you choose Python?

We would like to highlight the main functions of Python software development to make it clear whether you should choose this programming language or not.

  • The syntax is clearly understandable and easy to make changes and debug it, Also the code is easy in maintenance 
  • It is suitable for different platforms as it is flexible
  • Python makes the development easier as it provides prebuilt libraries
  • Python gives the ability to test the solution well before the launching
  • It supports databases and provides database interfaces to most DBMS systems
  • Python supports GUI applications and has a framework for the Web. Example: tkmter, WXPython, Django.

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PHP vs Python Performance Comparison

Now it is time to compare these two programming languages –  PHP and Python for you to know which one suits your software solution the best.

Ease of Learning

Python is considered to be much easier to learn. You may ask – why? Python is the language that suits many purposes and can be selected quickly. Moreover, most programming courses for beginners teach Python as a fundamental programming language. It shows that Python developments are easy and fast to do compared to PHP language. Consequently, the most common choice for building websites and applications is Python. As we have already mentioned, it has a pretty simple syntax and readable code. 

If we speak about PHP, everything is just the relatively opposite of Python. It doesn’t suit general purposes. Its design is particularly made for the development of web applications that are considered to be more complex solutions. So to learn PHP from scratch and use it where it is appropriate, you need to spend much more time than with Python. PHP can be used by more experienced developers who have already developed solutions to this programming language. Initially, PHP was used for building simple personal pages, but now it has changed and expanded its abilities. 

Community Support

When you need to choose the suitable programming language for your software solution, it is not just about building but maintenance. Python and PHP are equal in this part, both of them have powerful community support. As PHP is a long time on the market and thousands of web apps were developed on the framework, there are many developers who are ready to provide constant support. 

The same situation is with Python. There are also a large number of Python developed applications, so community support isn’t inferior to PHP. Python started to gain its popularity when Google built Youtube using this programming language. Also, among other popular Python-based apps are Instagram, Reddit, and Pinterest. If talking about PHP usage, the most popular example is Facebook.

Python and PHP based apps

Python and PHP based apps

Documentation

Both programming languages provide broad documentation. There are numerous forums, discussions, websites that show great tutorials where developers can see how to develop software solutions using PHP or Python. So there is no difference between these two languages if we talk about documentation. 

Pricing

As we have already mentioned, PHP and Python are open-source and it means that they are both free to download. So these two languages are no worse than paid frameworks.

Library Support

If the previous points don’t show the sharp difference between PHP and Python. Python has excellent and well-developed library support for most types of apps. PHP falls behind a little in this aspect but Packagist is also a good basis for PHP.

Recently many startup companies developed machine learning backed web apps.

Python provides some excellent Machine Learning libraries like TensorFlow, Keras, Theano, Scikit Learn, etc. The Python libraries are quick, simple, and greatly integrate with the web frameworks. 

Speed

Previously PHP 5 used to be rather slow and took too much time for implementation. After new updates, PHP 7 became much quicker but if we talk about mathematics, text parsing, or work with a great amount of data, PHP concedesPython. When it comes to the development of software solutions, speed is very important and can be a decisive factor. In some industries delaying the launch by several days can cost a giant amount of money and can influence the overall system performance. So PHP goes ahead of Python at this point. However, not all applications demand the highest speed and it is not so crucial if some processes will last longer than were expected.

Choice of Web Frameworks

It is high time to describe the existing frameworks of PHP and Python programming languages that are mostly used for web development. As for Python, they are the following;

  • Django
  • Flask
  • Pylons
  • Pyramid

If talking about PHP based frameworks, among them are:

  • Codeigniter
  • Zend
  • Laravel
  • Symfony

Let’s go a little more detailed in framework descriptions. Django is known for its quick speed, scalability, security, and simplicity. It is the most frequently used Python framework that counts a lot of applications based on it.

Also, Codeigniter and Laravel are very widely used in the modern market. Most PHP based applications use these two frameworks. 

The choice depends only on the type of web development, its features, and aims. 

Debugging

Python language implies a broad debugger called PDB. It has powerful documentation and simplicity in usage for all levels of developer qualification. Python implies Xdebug for the debugging process. Two of these debuggers provide a common set of features like stacks, breakpoints, path mapping, and others. So this point also shows PHP and Python similarities.

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Python or PHP?
Want to develop a solution for business but don’t know whether to choose Python or PHP?

Features of Python and PHP 

After comparing these two programming languages, we would like to emphasize particular features of Python and PHP separately. The choice of any of these languages and their frameworks depends on the type of solution your business needs and its industry. Some functions can be performed by PHP, some – by Python. Only experienced backend developers can choose the suitable one for you.

Features of Python

  • Simple learning from scratch and powerful maintenance
  • Available for diverse platforms and can be easily implemented  using the same interface
  • Low-level modules can be included in the Python interpreter.
  • Suitable for large codes providing excellent support and structure
  • Has an automatic garbage collection 
  • Python provides interactive testing and debugging sessions
  • Available for integration with Java, C, and C++ programming code.

Features of PHP

  • Providing support for a lot of databases like MySQL, Oracle, and others as well as Python
  • Simple is usage and coding comparing to other scripting languages
  • Works more efficient than other scripting languages
  • PHP is open-source and free to download and usage
  • PHP offers access logging by creating a summary of recent accesses of the user

What to choose – PHP or Python?

We highlighted the main features of PHP as well as Python programming language. So here comes the question – which one you should choose? 

As we have already found out PHP is the language for the web and Python is a general-purpose language, both of them can be used for web app development. Which one will suit you best depends on only the specifications of your project. If your solution is made for automation of the work processes for not a large company, then your choice would be rather PHP. Also, a PHP-based solution is a good choice for e-commerce websites and content management as it can be integrated with third-party applications.

As to Python, this language is actively used for the solutions that need to work with AI, data science, and be useful for the scientific community. Python provides a wide range of framework libraries that let you work with machine learning technologies. Moreover, Python will be a good choice if your company wants to implement Big Data

Nevertheless, before starting the development of your own software solution,  it is crucial to define the main and second goals and requirements that your company wants to reach, to investigate all details of technologies that should be involved in the development.

If you have a poor experience, an obvious condition is to hire a team of specialists including a Business Analyst to build the right strategy, Scrum Master, frontend and backend developers, and of course UI\UX designers and quality assurance specialists.

Our expertise in PHP backend development

GBKSOFT has deep expertise in building numerous PHP powered software solutions as we use this programming language for 99% of all our projects. We would like to highlight the latest and successful ones which were developed on the PHP programming language.

LEO Case

LEO is a software solution for the Nelson Precast company. The business deals with creating and selling custom cast stones for the exterior. The needed software solution lied in the automatization of some work processes, mainly creating and sending the accurate parts of orders to customers. 

For building this software solution, our backend developers used PHP programming language. This is a complex project that demands to solve many business issues and be implemented easily. Also, as LEO deals with a huge amount of data and needs to maintain a database, PHP is the right choice for it. Our backend developers went through long-lasting hard work and made a lot of serious decisions among which are:

  • architecture decisions;
  • implementing the most difficult tasks;
  • from which side to implement the tasks – front-end or back-end;
  • best practices for implementing the features;
  • reviewing each MR.

HDR Print Case 

HDR Print is a vast printing company that prints all types of documents, banners, posters, and others. As the number of orders has started to increase rapidly, the owners needed to digitalize their business and automate some work processes. GBKSOFT team built a customized website for HDR Print. One of the main features is a calculator for orders. What functions does the calculator offer? They are the following:

  • ability to choose the size of future printings according to categories like banners, posters, docs, etc.;
  • preview of the future printings on the required size and type
  • typing the required sizes of customers` printings and counting the prices

Soljets Case

GBKSOFT developed the website for an aircraft selling company. Before contacting us, they had an old version of the website that wasn’t productive enough and had a poor design. Besides the providing of renewed design with colors, and patterns suitable for their industry, we developed a complex ERP system. So what features made the website gain after our work?

  • search for aircraft by filters – price, model, manufacturer, size
  • comparing the chosen model to other existing on the platform
  • ability to check the approximate price of the airplane and perform a range mapping

Moreover, customers can find a detailed description of every model of airplanes like weights, operating costs, cabin interior, performance. So all required information by customers can be found on their websites, so the owners don’t need to spend many costs to contact every customer personally.

Conclusion

Taking everything into account, PHP and Python are two full-fledged programming languages that are used for the development of software solutions that have different requirements, range of function, and business goals of customers. Python is general-purpose, PHP is mostly for web solutions but both of them can be a great choice for building web applications. Only experienced Business Analysts and Software Architect can help you with defining the demands of your company, build the right strategy for building a solution, and choose the suitable technologies, programming language, and their frameworks. 

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Want to get a consultation with our Business Analyst and Software Architect for professional advice?

There is no right answer. The choice between these two programming languages depends on the specifications of your projects, what aims it sets, what features and functions it will have. For defining PHP or Python, you need to consult with specialists who will build the right strategy of development for your case.
A great number of popular web and mobile apps are developed on PHP programming language. Among them are Facebook, Viber, Cloudmine, Wikipedia, Slack, Tumblr. It is worthy to mark that these apps are not just PHP-based but are greatly maintained and provide constant updates that show a high level of PHP solutions support.
Python is simple to learn and use programming language compared to PHP as it is general-purpose. However, Python and PHP have their own advantages and peculiarities that can suit different types of software solutions. Only with the help of a Business Analyst and Software Architect, your choice will be right.
Anastasiia Mikula Due to my Master`s Degree in journalism, I focus on the details while doing the research on the topic. My particular curiosity is about the latest mobile app developments that start in 2015 that make life easier and save much time to spend it more productive. I am an expert in reviewing and consulting web projects related to web applications, especially if they are connected with wearables.
Evgeniy Evgen is a key person that makes your project scalable and easy to maintain. Thanks to his advanced and deep knowledge of innovative technologies our team can produce project with high level of complexity and loading. And apart from being a great expert he's also a reliable team player ready to back you up.

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