Back to Top

Best server-side programming language

When it comes to developing server-side applications, there are only two serious contenders: PHP and Python. But which one of them is the best solution for business applications? We hope that this article will help you take an educated decision.

While PHP and Python are both high level programming languages, which have successfully stood the test of time, Python is older, being created in the late 80s. Python 3000 (3.0) was released in 2008, and it wasn’t backwards-compatible with the earlier versions. Fortunately, the active community has already ported many of the new Py3K features to the most up-to-date, and yet backwards-compatible Python version (2.7).

PHP was invented in 1994, and the latest major version (PHP 7) was released in 2015, with the main goal of optimizing performance. It looks like the code was heavily optimized indeed, being able to double the loading speed of the WordPress-based websites which were used as benchmarks.

As an initial conclusion, we can confidently say that both Python and PHP are old enough, so they are solid platforms which are going to be supported in the future as well. Let’s see what else separates these two elegant programming languages.

If you want to develop a web-based application, for example a SaaS platform, it is important to understand that Python wasn't created with web development in mind. Sure, it includes several useful libraries, but it isn't a full-stack development platform yet. On the other hand, PHP has been built with back-end web programming in mind from the very beginning, so it is the clear winner here. Therefore, if you want to have a web-based application developed, you should ask your coders to use PHP for it, and not Python.

What about tech support? Let’s search Google for “python forum” and “php forum”. The first search has revealed almost 60 million results, while the second one has delivered 715 million results. These figures may change significantly as Google discounts some of the results and adds new ones to its index, but I think that the conclusion is quite clear: most geeks use PHP for their projects, and this is another aspect that should be taken into account.

Python and PHP are both open source, and their code is quite easy to understand. They integrate with most of the top IDEs without any problems, which is a huge advantage for programmers who are used to working with Visual Studio, for example. Each one of them includes a detailed documentation.

However, there are several key differences that separate Python and PHP. For starters, Python is aspect-oriented, while PHP is object-oriented. This makes the PHP code more robust, while Python can be an attractive platform due to its flexibility.

PHP is similar with the C programming language, and this may be a positive aspect for C++, and even C# developers. However, due to the huge number of libraries, Python programmers can quickly create a large variety of applications that can help businesses which are active in pretty much any industry.

So, what is the best server-side programming language? By now you should have already figured out our answer: we can’t tell for sure. While Python is very flexible, PHP was built with the goal of powering servers in mind, and it does that perfectly. However, we can guarantee that both languages are powerful enough for most people's needs.