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PHP or Python – Performance comparison

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Backend development is one of the foremost sought-after skills these days. Every new business/startup desires a website and a mobile app - each of that connects with a server within the backend. Therefore, companies are ready to pay a large sum of amount to the backend developer for their services. 

It is very confusing for the new developers which backend framework they should learn? With the emergence of many new programming languages with so many features, libraries, and frameworks, it is very difficult to decide. There are many options for developers. 

In this article, we will compare two of the most popular backend programming languages – PHP and Python.  We will try to compare various aspects to see which one of them is better than the other. 

Before we dig into the comparison, there are some points that significantly affect the comparison and choice of the web framework. 

Ease of learning: 

It is one of the most important parameters to choose which web framework is best to use. There is no point in spending a lot of time learning the framework if there is no ease. Time is money and especially for a developer, time is very important

Community support: 

It is a known fact that all of the developers struggle with bugs, we all face issues while writing programs and look for online support. If a programming language is not that popular and doesn’t have proper community support, it is better to stay away from it. 

Documentation: 

Just as community support, it is important that sufficient documentation is available for the developers to learn and understand the nuances.

Pricing: 

Not all the tools are free. It significantly affects the choice of an organization which is low on budget. Rather than using paid systems, a large number of companies prefer to use open-source tools and frameworks. Banks, insurance companies, and other enterprises prefer to use paid systems.

Library support:

The programming language is widely used, there will be more developers who will keep developing the libraries for that particular language which will result in an easier development process. 

Speed: 

Server-side applications require high tolerance capacity and low latency. It is important to know which language is faster in terms of execution time.

Choice of web frameworks: 

It is vital for a programming language to provide well-designed web development frameworks that are easy-to-use and can develop powerful applications.    

Debugging:

Debugging tools are very important in the development process. Choosing a language also depends on the available debugging tools of that programming language. If the language is not equipped with the necessary debugging tools, the developer will spend more time debugging resulting in low productivity. 
    
PHP vs Python Performance Comparison

Let’s discuss the above-mentioned elements to compare the performance of PHP and Python. 

Ease of Learning

Python, without a doubt, is much easier to learn. It is a general-purpose programming language that can be learned very quickly. The syntax of Python is much simpler, and the code is clearly readable as compare to other programming languages. Due to the ease of learning, Python is used to teach the beginners on the fundamentals of the programming. Python code is much shorter and easy to write as compared to the other languages; this has made Python the preferred choice for a lot of applications. 
PHP was specifically designed for web applications; it wasn’t meant to be a general-purpose language. Web apps are more sophisticated than simple. As compared to Python, PHP seems to take more time for learning.
One of the most important factors in choosing a language to learn is time. Python is much easier to learn, and it is a good choice to start for beginners.  PHP can be a little tough for the new developers; it was designed to develop simple personal pages, but PHP has grown into complexity. 

The PHP developer community is trying very hard to provide efficient support for new programmers. However, owing to its inherent simplicity, Python wins by a significant margin. 

Community support

Both of the languages, PHP and Python, have excellent community support. PHP has been in the market for a while now specifically for developing web applications. Because of that, there is a huge community of PHP developers ready to provide support for the language. 

Python has a large community of developers who are using it to develop many applications. Community support for Python is outstanding. Python got fame after Google started using it for some of its popular apps like YouTube. Many other startups like Instagram and Pinterest use Python-based web applications. 

It is worth noting that the primary backend of the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook, has been written using PHP. 
There is no clear winner here, as both of the languages, PHP and Python have excellent community support. 

Documentation

PHP and Python both have extensive documentation available There are many websites, forums, and discussion boards that provide a guide on how to develop applications using Python or PHP. Both languages are good in terms of the documentation, just like the community support there is no clear winner in terms of documentation. 

Pricing

Both languages are completely free and open source. In terms of pricing, PHP and Python win over all the other paid languages. 

Library support

In library support, Python beats PHP. Python has well-developed library support for all types of applications. PHP Packagist (PHP packages repository) is a strong backbone for PHP. Many startups and large companies are developing machine learning backed web apps. Python provides excellent Machine Learning libraries, TensorFlow, Keras, Theano, Scikit Learn, etc. These libraries are easy to use, fast, and most importantly they integrate brilliantly with the web framework. Developing such kind of applications with Python is far better than any other programming language.

Speed

PHP 5.x versions were quite slow, they used to take a lot of time in execution. With 7.x, it improved the speed almost 3 times faster than a typical Python program. Speed is an important factor in performance-critical applications. For example, in a core banking system that gets a million hits on a daily basis, a delay of 3 times might create a significant impact on the overall system performance. In terms of speed, PHP wins by a significant margin over Python.

Choice of Web Frameworks

The most common Python-based web frameworks are;

Django

Flask

Pylons

Pyramid

The most used PHP based web frameworks are;

Codeigniter

Zend

Laravel

Symfony

Python and PHP are both quite close on this point. Both languages provide equally good choices for frameworks. 

Debugging 

PDB (Python Debugger) is a powerful debugging tool. It is easy to use even for beginners, PDB is very well documented. PHP provides XDebug package for debugging. Both of the tools provide the most commonly used debugging features - breakpoints, stacks, path mapping, etc.

Both languages are quite similar when it comes to debugging tools.

Conclusion

To summarize, both Python and PHP are quite similar to each other. In overall comparison, Python has edge over PHP on several points.  Here is what we would recommend:

•    If you are an experienced PHP programmer, stick to PHP, because you already know it in and out and have a grip on it. 
•    If you are an intermediate programmer, you should learn Python and shift to it for better employment opportunities.
•    If you are a novice programmer who wants to learn backend development, start learning Python and eventually move to Python-based frameworks.

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