Are you torn between PHP and another server-side programming language?
Despite being around for more than 25 years, PHP is still one of the most popular server-side programming languages today.
It’s used by some of the largest websites in the world, including Facebook, Wikipedia, and WordPress.com.
Overall, it powers about 78.9% of the web. In other words, 8 out of 10 of the websites you see on the web use PHP somehow.
Is PHP Dead?
Whenever a new programming language, framework, or tool emerges, tech pundits rush online to declare the death of PHP.
Despite these doomsday predictions, PHP is still alive and kicking. In fact, it’s currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to the rise of serverless computing and the popularity of WordPress.
It might have slightly slipped down the TIOBE Index, from #5 in 2017 to #8 in 2022, but it’s still one of the most in-demand programming languages, commanding nearly 80% of the internet.
A Brief History of PHP?
Rasmus Lerdorf created PHP in 1994.
Lerdorf initially created PHP as a CGI binaries to track his online resume and monitor his visitors. He named the project “Personal Home Page Tools,” or “PHP Tools” for short.
At the time, PHP didn’t have any formal structure or syntax. Lerdorf simply added new features as he saw fit and released them to the public.
In 1997, two developers, Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans overhauled PHP’s codebase and gave it a new parser. They also renamed the language “Hypertext Preprocessor” or “PHP.”
The new parser increased PHP’s speed and added support for more programming features. It also laid the foundation for PHP 3, released in June 1998.
- PHP 4: By 2000, PHP 4 was released to the world. This version included a new Zend Engine, which increased performance by 70%. It also introduced a new object-oriented programming model.
- PHP 5: In May 2004, PHP 5 was released, powered by the Zend Engine 2.0. This version included better support for XML and Java and a new object model.
- PHP 5.6: PHP 5.6 was released on 28th August 2014. As we speak, it’s one of the most popular PHP versions, with 9% of WordPress websites still using the version. But despite being that popular, PHP would end its active support in January 2017. However, they would continue offering security support until 31st December 2018.
- PHP 7: In 2015, PHP 7 was released, powered by the Zend Engine 3.0. This version included a new type system, scalar type declarations, return type declarations, and support for 64-bit architecture.
- PHP 7.2: In November 2017, PHP 7.2 was released, powered by the Zend Engine 3.2. This version included a new password hashing API, improved performance of the Zend Engine, and support for the thelibsodium extension.
- PHP 7.3: In December 2018, PHP 7.3 was released, powered by the Zend Engine 3.3. This version included a new FFI extension, improved performance of the Zend Engine, and support for the Betterfly extension.
- PHP 8.0: PHP was released on 26th November 2020, and released on 26th November 2020. This version includes a new Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler, improved performance of the Zend Engine, and support for the null safe operator. PHP 8.0 will be supported until November 2022. Their security support would be extended until November 2023.
- PHP 8.1: This version was released on 25th November 2021. It included improvements such as enumerations, array unpacking, weak references, etc.
PHP Versions used on WordPress websites
What’s New in PHP 8?
PHP 8 includes several new features and improvements, such as:
- The Just-In-Time (JIT) Compiler: This new feature improves performance by compiling PHP code to native machine code at runtime.
- The nullsafe Operator: This is a new operator that allows you to safely access properties and methods of objects without having to check if they’re null first.
- Union Types: This new type system allows you to declare multiple types for a single value.
- Improved Performance: PHP 8 includes several performance improvements, such as enhanced memory management and faster object instantiation.
- Support for the libsodium Extension: This new extension adds support for the Sodium cryptographic library.
- Support for the Betterfly Extension: This new extension adds support for the Betterfly programming language.
What is PHP used for?
PHP is a versatile scripting language that can be used for a wide range of tasks, including:
- Web development: You can use PHP to create dynamic websites or web applications. PHP scripts are executed on the server, and the results returned to the user’s web browser. It’s often used in conjunction with the MySQL database.
- Command-line scripting: You can use PHP to write shell scripts or command-line programs.
- Desktop applications: You can use PHP to create cross-platform desktop applications.
- Mobile applications: You can use PHP to create Android, iOS, and Windows Phone mobile apps.
- Game development: You can use PHP to create 2D or 3D games.
- Machine learning: You can use PHP to create machine learning models.
- Data science: You can use PHP to process and analyze data.
How PHP Works
PHP is a server-side scripting language. That means that PHP code is executed on the server, and the results are returned to the user’s web browser.
When a user requests a PHP page, the webserver calls the PHP interpreter, which executes the PHP code. The results are then returned to the user’s web browser.
PHP code can be embedded into HTML code, or it can be executed as a standalone script.
PHP code is written in plain text, and it is saved in files with a .php extension.
When a user requests a PHP page, the web server looks for the .php file and executes the PHP code inside it.
The PHP interpreter can also be configured to run PHP code from files with other extensions, such as .html or .txt.
A PHP script can contain any number of PHP tags. A PHP tag starts with <?php and ends with ?>.
All PHP code must be enclosed within these tags. Otherwise, the web server will treat it as plain text.
Here is a simple PHP script that prints the phrase “Hello, World!”:
echo ‘Hello, World!’;
In this example, the PHP code is enclosed within the <?php and ?> tags. The echo statement is used to print the text “Hello, World!” to the web browser.
Why Should You Choose PHP For Web Development Services?
PHP is a popular scripting language for web development. It is free, open-source, and easy to use.
PHP can be used to create dynamic websites and web applications. PHP code can be embedded into HTML code, or it can be executed as a standalone script.
So, why should anyone choose PHP over any other programming language for their web project?
PHP Is Faster and Better Than Ever, Too
PHP used to be slow.
The reason being all the previous versions didn’t have a JIT compiler. A Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler is integral to any programming language. It compiles code just in time for execution instead of ahead of time. This makes the interpretation process faster.
But, with the latest release of PHP 8, they’ve included a JIT compiler. Now, it is on par with interpreted languages like Python. It is also faster than some compiled languages like Java.
Cloudways conducted a study on this:
After testing WordPress 5.7 against different versions of PHP (5.6, 7.0, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, and 8.0) and using a pre-installed twenty-twenty one WordPress theme, they found that:
“All the tested versions of PHP showed better results than running WordPress on HHVM 3.18.9.”
More specifically, they found that: “PHP 8.0.0-dev users are enjoying a significant performance improvement over their predecessors.”
It’s three times faster than PHP 5.6
The moral of the story is that if you’re still using an older version of PHP, you’re missing out on a lot of performance improvements. Not to mention all the new features that have been added in recent years.
PHP Is Easy to Learn
PHP is a very forgiving language. It will let you get away with many mistakes that other languages wouldn’t. That is one of the reasons why it is so popular. It is straightforward to learn for beginners.
Don’t get it wrong. PHP might be easy, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful. It is a capable language.
It’s been around for a long time. PHP has been around since 1994. In that time, it has undergone many changes and additions. As a result, it is now a very versatile and robust language.
PHP Developers are easy to Find
Because PHP is so popular, finding an experienced PHP developer is relatively easy.
And that’s not to say they’re not paid well. Here’s what Brand Savage had to say about it on Twitter:
For newer frameworks such as NodeJS, finding developers may prove to be more difficult and costly.
Worse, experience may be flat-out, not possible.
For example, this Reddit post shows a job description of a company looking for a React web developer with more than five years of experience back in 2017. That’s not a typo. They wanted someone with more than five years of experience in a technology that didn’t even exist five years ago.
PHP Open-source Nature Saves Budget
PHP is open-source, free to download and use.
You don’t have to pay for a license like you would for languages such as Microsoft’s ASP.NET. This can save your company a lot of money in the long run, especially if you’re just starting.
When it comes time to find hosting for your website, you’ll have a lot of options to choose from. This is because most hosts support PHP. In fact, it’s rare to find a host that doesn’t support it.
It also boasts a large and active community
PHP has an extensive and active community. Because it is so popular, there are always people willing to help you out.
If you’re having trouble with your code, you can head over to Stack Overflow and post your question. There’s a good chance that someone has already asked the same question.
There are also thousands of PHP-based solutions whose viability has been tested and found to work. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you start a new project.
The Big Boys use PHP
PHP is used by some of the biggest websites in the world, including:
Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant was originally built with PHP. It has since moved away from PHP, but it still uses it in part.
- Wikipedia: The popular online encyclopedia is written in PHP.
- Yahoo!: One of the earliest internet companies still uses PHP today.
- Tumblr: The microblogging and social networking site rely on PHP.
- WordPress: The WordPress CMS is currently powering more than 30% of the internet. And yes, it is written in PHP.
- Etsy: The online marketplace for handmade goods uses PHP.
If these big names are still using PHP, there must be something great about it.
Development in PHP is Less Time-Consuming
PHP is partially object-oriented, meaning that it shares some features with object-oriented languages such as Java and C++. However, it is not a fully object-oriented language.
This makes development in PHP less time-consuming because you don’t have to write as much code as you would for a fully object-oriented language.
It makes code reusability easier as well, which further reduces development time.
There are lots of PHP frameworks that you can take advantage of, including CodeIgniter, Symfony, Laravel, and CMSs such as Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, and Magento. Frameworks make development even faster as they provide a structure for your code.
PHP Is Easy to Learn
PHP is an easy language to learn, especially if you already have experience with another programming language.
If you’re just starting, don’t worry. PHP is easy to pick up even if you have no previous experience with programming. The syntax is similar to C, making the transition easy for C++ and Java developers.
And with so many available PHP resources, finding help should be easy.
And because there are so many resources available, finding help is easy. If you’re stuck, you can always head over to Stack Overflow or Google and find an answer to your question.
PHP is not just a web development language. It can also be used for:
You can even use PHP to create a simple game.
The language is also platform-independent. You can use it on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, etc.
PHP Is Fast
Speed is of the essence in web development. Come to think about it: no one wants to wait for a slow website to load.
Fortunately, PHP is fast. It can handle large amounts of data quickly and efficiently.
And because it compiles code on-the-fly, you won’t have to wait for your code to be compiled before seeing results.
It also uses its memory, especially with the newer versions. This means that it doesn’t have to rely on the server’s resources, making it even faster.
PHP is a secure language. It has built-in security features that make it difficult for attackers to exploit your code.
For example, PHP’s type-casting feature makes it difficult for SQL injection attacks to succeed. And the language’s data-hiding feature makes it hard for attackers to access sensitive information.
PHP also has a lot of functions that help you sanitize data before it is stored or displayed. This helps to reduce the risk of XSS attacks.
There’s also an overwhelming amount of online resources, tools, frameworks, and libraries that can help you secure your code and fix any vulnerabilities.
It’s Well Connected with The Database
PHP is well connected with the database. The language supports many databases, including MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, etc.
Developers have the freedom to choose the database that best fits their needs.
Additionally, connecting to a database is easy. You can use PHP’s PDO extension or one of the many available libraries.
It’s Tried and Tested
PHP has been around for a long time. It was first released in 1995, and since then, it has gone through many changes.
The language is constantly being improved and updated with new features. As a result, it is more stable and reliable than ever.
Additionally, because PHP is so popular, a large community of developers is always willing to help.
There’s a Lot of Legacy Code
PHP is a legacy language. That means it’s been around for a long time, and there is a lot of legacy code.
This can be both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, it has a lot of code floating around that you could use. On the other hand, it also means that you need to wade through a lot of outdated code.
Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available that can help you sort through the legacy code and find what you’re looking for.
PHP is a popular language for web development for a reason. It’s easy to learn, fast, secure, versatile, and well-connected with the database. Additionally, there’s a lot of legacy code available for you to use. So if you’re looking for a language that can help you create a website quickly and easily, PHP is a good choice.
Top PHP Frameworks:
Here’s an article you want to read to learn more about the Laravel framework:
Why Laravel Is The Best PHP Framework For Web Development
- Laravel: Laravel is the most popular PHP framework, best preferred for its ease of use and elegant code.
- Symfony: Symfony is a popular PHP framework that helps you build web applications quickly and easily. It is well-known for its stability, flexibility, and security.
- CodeIgniter: CodeIgniter is a lightweight PHP framework designed to help you build web applications quickly and easily. It is known for its ease of use and simple codebase.
- CakePHP: CakePHP serves up quick and clean PHP development. Launched in April 2015, the framework doesn’t require you to mess around with YAML and XML files. You only need to set up your database and get down to coding—nothing else.
- Yii Framework: “Yii” is a Chinese word for “Simple and Evolutionary.” It also means “Yes.” The Yii Framework is pronounced as “yee” and not “why.” It has one of the most well-written documentation and user guides in the PHP frameworks world.
- Phalcon: Phalcon is a web framework written in C with an MVC design pattern. It’s fast, secure, and efficient.
- Slim: Slim is a PHP microframework that helps you create APIs and web applications quickly and easily. Web developers love Slim because it’s simple, lightweight, and easy to use.
- FuelPHP: FuelPHP is a PHP framework for rapid web application development. It is fast, secure, and efficient.
- PHP-FIG: The PHP Framework Interop Group (PHP-FIG) was founded in December 2011 to create a set of common standards for PHP frameworks.
- SimplePie: SimplePie is a free and open-source feed parser that helps you parse and extract content from RSS and Atom feeds.
- PEAR: PHP Extension and Application Repository (PEAR) is a collection of reusable PHP components and applications.
- Xdebug: Xdebug is a debugger for PHP. It helps you debug your PHP code and modules.
PHP Vs. Other Languages:
PHP is a popular choice for web development because it is easy to learn, fast, and versatile.
Python is challenging to learn, with Ruby being even more difficult. Java is a more heavyweight option than PHP and has a steeper learning curve. Node.js is a good choice for server-side development, but it’s not as popular for web development as PHP is.
If you’re in the middle of choosing a tech stack for your next project, here is what we suggest you do with the two programming languages:
Choose PHP as the backend language:
- Solution stack such as LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP)
- CMS such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla
- Frameworks such as Laravel, Yii, CodeIgniter
- Servers such as MariaDB, Sybase, PostgreSQL
- Frameworks such as AngularJS, React, Vue.js
- Browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera
- Libraries such as jQuery, Moment.js, Lodash
- Solution stack such as MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, Node.js)
- Webpack, Gulp.js, Grunt.js
PHP Vs. Python
Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. It is much easier to learn than PHP but is widely loved for its flexibility, readability, and comprehensibility.
It’s emerged as the top programming language for AI, machine learning, and web scrapping. So, if you’re looking for a language to use for AI and machine learning, Python is a good choice. But PHP is still a more popular choice for web development.
When to use Python vs PHP
Python is a better choice than PHP for certain types of projects:
- Data science and analysis: Python is a popular language for data science and analysis. It has libraries such as NumPy and SciPy that make it perfect for data analysis tasks.
- Web scraping: Python is a better choice than PHP for web scraping because of its library BeautifulSoup.
- AI and machine learning: Python is a popular choice for AI and machine learning because of libraries such as TensorFlow and Theano. But PHP is still a more popular choice for web development. So if you’re looking for a language to use for web development, Python is not the best choice.
- Choose PHP instead. But if you’re more interested in AI or machine learning, Python makes a better backend programming language.
- Flexibility: Python is more flexible than PHP. It can be used for various tasks such as data science, web scraping, and machine learning.
- Readability: Python is more readable than PHP. It has a simpler syntax that makes it easy to understand.
- Comprehensibility: Python is more comprehensible than PHP. It has clearer error messages and more descriptive variable names.
- Web Frameworks: Both languages provide several web frameworks to choose from. PHP has Laravel, Yii, and CodeIgniter. Python has Django, Flask, and Pyramid. However, python-based frameworks are highly scalable, secure, and easy to use. Developers prefer them because they’re easy to set up and have shorter development periods.
- Library Management: Python has a better library management system than PHP. It has a centralized package manager called pip that makes installing and managing libraries easy.
- Speed: Python is a faster language than PHP. It executes code faster and has a smaller runtime. So, which language should you choose for your next project?
- Security: Python is a more secure language than PHP. It has several security features that make it ideal for web development. For example, the Python framework, Django, boasts many built-in security features such as automated scanning for vulnerabilities, password hashing, and CSRF protection.
- Debugger: Python has a better debugger than PHP. It has a graphical debugger called PDB that makes it easy to debug code.
As you can see, Python performs better than PHP in some areas, while PHP outperforms Python in others. The best choice for your project depends on your specific needs. Choose the language that fits your requirements the best.
PHP Vs. NodeJS
While PHP is a backend scripting language, NodeJS is a backend runtime environment. Still, both languages are used for backend web development.
But with the help of frameworks, libraries, and APIs, both NodeJS and PHP can be used for developing full-stack web applications.
NodeJS has some advantages over PHP:
- Speed: NodeJS is faster than PHP. It executes code faster and has a smaller runtime. NodeJS is among the few asynchronous development environments. This, being one of its differentiators, gives it an edge over PHP and other programming languages in terms of speed.
- Flexibility: NodeJS is more flexible than PHP. It can be used for various tasks such as developing web applications, APIs, and microservices.
- Scalability: NodeJS is more scalable than PHP. It can handle more requests and has higher throughput.
- Frameworks: PHP has many frameworks to choose from. NodeJS has a limited number of frameworks.
- Library management: NodeJS has a better library management system than PHP. It has a centralized package manager called npm that makes installing and managing libraries easy.
Node.js Vs. PHP: Which is More Popular?
|The number of WordPress Sites||7400000||129,000|
|Market Share||PHP 5/5||0/5|
|Lead in Geography||162/162||0/162|
|Stack Overflows Questions||1,290,000||281,000|
When to Choose NodeJS Over PHP?
NodeJS is a better choice than PHP when you’re specifically looking for the following features:
- Development Efficiency: If you’re planning to create a dynamic single-page application (SPA) alongside MongoDB, ExpressJS, or AngularJS, then NodeJS is the better choice.
- High Speed: Web applications developed with NodeJS generally tend to perform better. They can consistently send requests to the server. Its asynchronous nature makes it perfect for data-intensive applications.
- Real-time Data: If you need to process large amounts of data in real-time, then NodeJS is a better choice. It can handle more requests and has higher throughput.
- Scalability: NodeJS applications are scalable and can handle more traffic than PHP applications.
When to Choose PHP Over NodeJS?
PHP is a better choice than NodeJS when you’re specifically looking for the following features:
- Database Integration: PHP integrates well with common databases such as MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL.
- Centralized Server with Little Scaling: PHP is a better choice if you plan to allocate a specific centralized data server with little scaling needs.
- Ease of Development: PHP would be the better option if you’re not experienced in NodeJS because it’s more forgiving and easier to learn.
- Portability: PHP code can be run on so many web servers such as Apache, IIS, and Nginx. NodeJS code is limited to the NodeJS environment.
NodeJS has the following limitations:
- Ineffective with CPU-heavy Apps: NodeJS is not as effective for CPU-intensive applications despite its speed. That’s because it uses a single thread to handle concurrent threads.
- No Built-In File System: NodeJS doesn’t have a built-in file system. This can be problematic when you need to work with files on the server.
PHP has the following limitations:
- Poor Error Handling: PHP errors can be difficult to debug even with built-in error handling tools.
- Synchronous Execution: In contrast to NodeJS, PHP executes each module sequentially. This can lead to performance issues when dealing with large applications.