PHP vs. Python

PHP and Python are the two most popular programming languages on Earth. While Python impresses with its ease of use, PHP has clear advantages in terms of speed. Both languages are equally recommendable.

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What’s the difference between PHP and Python?

PHP or Python? Experienced programmers will certainly have a well-founded opinion on this, backed up with good arguments. However, if you compare the statements, the picture won’t necessarily become clearer. While some clearly swear by PHP, others are undoubtedly in favor of Python. For a newcomer, however, this isn’t very helpful. That’s why it makes sense to compare the two languages in an unbiased way. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What do PHP and Python have in common, and what are the clear differences between them? The answers are complex and point to two equally good opponents.


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What is PHP?

The name PHP originally stood simply for “Personal Home Page.” Today, “Hypertext Preprocessor” is more appropriate. The server-side scripting language was invented by Rasmus Lerdorf and first published in 1995. The programming language is open source and available free of charge for all common operating systems. This isn’t the only reason why PHP enjoys such great popularity and is probably the most widely used scripting language in the world. Its ease of use also wins over programmers. PHP is suitable for dynamic web content, supports integration into many databases, and is top notch also in terms of its search engine rating.

What are the properties of PHP?

Cost: PHP is available under the open source PHP license and is therefore free for users.

Compatibility: PHP is compatible with almost all popular operating systems and achieves excellent results on all devices. Its versatility is one of the great advantages of the scripting language. In addition, PHP is compatible with many different types of servers.

Flexibility: Many embedding possibilities speak for PHP. Integration with HTML, XML, and other codes is easily possible.

Target group: PHP is aimed at experienced programmers and beginners alike. On the one hand, the programming language is so easy to understand that even novices can create a fully functional and visually appealing website in a relatively short time, but it also offers so many possibilities that professional programmers can implement sophisticated projects with PHP.

Performance: PHP convinces with a very good performance even compared to many other programming languages. Data and databases are loaded quickly, and the object-oriented features also have a positive effect on speed.

Monitoring: The script language lets you monitor memory and CPU data in real time. Error reporting is supported and error warnings can be generated.

What is PHP used for?

PHP is mainly used for websites and web-based apps. Dynamic page content and interactive user interfaces can be created and impress with their strong and secure performance. PHP is especially popular in e-commerce websites and apps where security is a priority. PHP is also suited for working with extensive content management systems.

PHP can also be used for image processing of most formats. Data can be displayed in various ways with the scripting language. PHP also harmonizes with large databases, can collect data from forms, support cookies, and regulate access by users. PHP works on the server side, so it doesn’t execute the program code in the browser, but directly on the server.

What is Python?

Python is a universal programming language developed in 1991 by Dutch software specialist Guido van Rossum as a successor to ABC. Like PHP, Python is free and open source. The name goes back to the British comedy troupe Monty Python. The goal of the script language has always been to offer a simple, intuitive, and clear structure, allowing each user to learn the language comparatively quickly. This is achieved, among other things, by a reduced syntax and structuring by indentation. Python is compatible with many operating systems and is constantly being further developed and optimized.

What are the properties of Python?

Cost: Just like PHP, Python is free and can be downloaded for free. The source code is openly accessible, making it easy to modify.

Flexibility: Python is designed so that users can extend it with different modules as they wish. The codes are portable and can be used on different operating systems without any modifications. Since numerous libraries are available, development is easy because important codes can be easily adopted. In addition, Python works in a particularly object-oriented way.

Target group: Its ease of use makes Python a popular language for developers of all kinds. Beginners benefit from quick access and can achieve great success in a short time without much prior knowledge. The syntax is logical, simple, and intuitive, which is an invaluable advantage not only for beginners, but also for experienced programmers. Small and large projects alike can be implemented with Python in a particularly time-saving and efficient manner.

Testing and security: Python allows developers to extensively test changes before they are implemented. This minimizes susceptibility to errors. One feature of the language is automatic garbage collection. If a problem occurs, debugging with Python is comparatively simple and, above all, problem oriented.

What is Python used for?

Especially due to its compatibility with frameworks like Django, Pyramid, or Flask, Python is perfectly suited for a host of web applications. The maintenance of databases or content management are easily achieved with the script language. In addition, commonly used Internet protocols such as HTML, XML, or IMAP are supported, which is why Python offers developers numerous options for their websites.

Many teams in software and game development also rely on Python. This includes web and desktop applications on the one hand, but also elaborate video games where 3D engines are based on Python. Its high flexibility and simply syntax make the programming language the ideal choice in this demanding field.


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PHP vs. Python: a direct comparison of the scripting languages

It’s clear that both programming languages not only have a large fan base, but are basically among the best options currently available. When comparing the two directly against each other, however, there are still some differences between PHP and Python.


If you start at the very beginning, you can already spot a major difference. While the installation of PHP is very simple, the installation of Python ⁠— depending on the operating system — can be quite challenging. Although the installation on Linux is rather quick, this doesn’t apply to Windows or macOS.

Learnability and syntax

Although PHP and Python are both logically structured and relatively easy to understand, Python still has clear advantages. The scripting language was developed with the intention of making it as easy as possible for beginners to get started, and it shows. The language is easy to read, well structured, and works with simple English terms. PHP, on the other hand, is case sensitive, assigns a task to the semicolon, and has its own rules for spaces and line breaks. Getting started is much more challenging.

Performance and speed

In terms of performance, on the other hand, PHP is ahead. Over time, the language has excelled and is now significantly faster than earlier versions and other programming languages. Code compilation, on the other hand, is also very straightforward in Python. For extensive applications, however, PHP has the edge.

Library support

Ready-made libraries simplify work, minimize errors, and ensure faster progress. Here, Python is known for its strong support. This applies to many different applications and tasks. PHP can’t quite keep up with this, although it’s slowly catching up with the newer versions. This makes the Package Repository a very useful and practical addition.


Both PHP and Python offer numerous framework options. For Python, these include Django, Flask, Pylons, Pyramid, and TurboGears. PHP offers Codeigniter, Laravel, Symfony, Yii, and Zend.


Debugging is a big topic for both PHP and Python. PHP offers the useful tool XDebug while Python relies on the Python Debugger (PDB).


Overall, Python is a bit more flexible. Compared to PHP, the somewhat older language scores points with its outstanding scalability making it ready for all challenges. PHP is by no means bad in this area either but doesn’t quite offer the same sophisticated possibilities.


Python has numerous security features and is one of the world’s most secure programming languages. PHP is also constantly improving its security systems, but when comparing the two directly, it would probably have to take a back seat in this area.


In terms of documentation, the PHP vs. Python race is much closer. Both languages offer extensive information on every topic and problem. PHP translates information into ten languages and lets you comment on it. Python is a bit clearer, but if you need help, you will probably find it for both scripting languages.


If documentation doesn’t help, an active and committed community is needed. Here, PHP and Python both prove that they are languages that have been used for a long time and have been able to build up large user bases during this time. The willingness to help is exceptional, and urgent questions are answered quickly and effectively. This is invaluable, especially for beginners.

PHP vs. Python: an overview of similarities and differences

  PHP Python
Cost Open source, free Open source, free
Compatibility With all common operating systems With all common operating systems
Type Server-side script language Universal programming language
Installation Super simple on all systems Sometimes complicated
Syntax Complex syntax, more difficult to master Simple syntax, easier to learn
Speed New versions are very fast Fast, but not as fast as PHP
Frameworks Codeigniter, Laravel, Symfony, Yii, Zend, and many more Django, Flask, Pylons, Pyramid, TurboGears, and many more
Library support Package Repository Many options
Documentation Very good documentation Very good documentation
Community Expansive community Expansive community

Summary: PHP or Python?

PHP and Python are two very strong programming languages with only marginal differences in quality. For beginners, Python is recommended, as you can learn it more quickly. You won’t need much more than a good Python tutorial to get started. For particularly fast websites, however, PHP is the better choice. To summarize, you can create compelling online projects with both languages.

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