Python vs. PHP - differences, pros, and cons

Maria Chojnowska

23 June 2023, 7 min read

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What's inside

  1. What is Python?
  2. What is PHP?
  3. Python vs. PHP - main differences
  4. Which language to choose?

Python and PHP are popular programming languages widely used for web development, data science, automation, and many other purposes. In contrast, powerful and versatile syntax, features, and application domains differ.

What are their strengths and weaknesses, and the factors that developers should consider when choosing between them? Whether you are a seasoned programmer or a novice exploring these languages for the first time, this article will provide a comprehensive overview of Python vs. PHP and help you decide which language best suits your needs.

What is Python?

Python is a versatile, open-source programming language known for its simplicity, flexibility, and ease of use. It offers a wide range of built-in libraries and tools, making it easy to develop and deploy applications in various domains such as web development, scientific computing, data analysis, data science, machine learning, automation, game development, desktop applications, and network programming.


Python’s pros

  • It has a simple syntax that is easy to read and write, making it an excellent language for beginners and non-programmers to learn.
  • It can be used for various applications, including web development, data science, scientific computing, machine learning, automation, and more.
  • It has a large and supportive community of developers contributing to its libraries and tools, making it easy to find online help and resources.
  • It has a vast collection of libraries and modules that can simplify development tasks, accelerate projects, and enhance functionality.
  • It is a high-level language that abstracts away many low-level details, making it easy to write complex programs quickly.
  • It can run on multiple operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS, making it an ideal language for developing cross-platform applications.
  • It can scale up or down depending on the size and complexity of the project, from small scripts to large-scale applications.
  • It is free and open-source, meaning it can be used, modified, and distributed without licensing fees.

Python’s cons

  • It’s an interpreted language that can be slower than compiled languages such as C or Java. However, Python can be optimized using code profiling, caching, and just-in-time (JIT) compilation techniques.
  • Python's Global Interpreter Lock (GIL) prevents multiple threads from executing Python code simultaneously, which can limit performance in multi-threaded applications. Nevertheless, Python offers alternative approaches to parallelism, such as multiprocessing and asynchronous programming.
  • While Python can be used for mobile app development using frameworks such as Kivy or BeeWare, it is not as widely used as other languages such as Java or Swift.
  • It has limited support for mobile platforms such as iOS and Android, reducing its use in mobile app development.
  • It can be memory-intensive, particularly for large-scale data processing tasks, which can limit its use in memory-constrained environments.
  • While Python can be used for system programming, it may not be as suitable as other languages, such as C or Rust, for low-level system programming tasks such as device drivers or operating systems.

What is PHP?

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a popular server-side scripting open-source programming language used to create websites, web applications, and web services.

PHP scripts are executed on the server side, generating dynamic content that can be sent to the client-side browser. The language is used to access databases, manipulate and process data, and create dynamic web content.

PHP is often combined with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create dynamic and interactive web pages. It is compatible with most web servers, operating systems, and platforms, making it a widely used and versatile language for web development.

PHP’s pros

  • Its simple syntax makes it easy for beginners to get started.
  • It’s an open-source language, meaning it's free to use, distribute, and modify. It has many tools, frameworks, and libraries available, further enhancing its versatility.
  • It’s compatible with most operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. It can also be integrated with a wide range of web servers and databases, making it a proper language for web development.
  • It has a vast community of developers, making it easy to find solutions to common problems and get support when needed. This community also contributes to developing new tools, frameworks, and libraries that enhance the language's functionality.
  • It can be used to develop a wide range of web applications, from small personal websites to large-scale enterprise applications.
  • It’s optimized for web development, making it a fast and efficient language for building web applications. It also has built-in caching mechanisms that improve the speed and performance of web apps.

PHP’s cons

  • Because PHP is an open-source language, it can be vulnerable to security issues if not properly secured. This can lead to website vulnerabilities, data breaches, etc.
  • It has many built-in functions and extensions, which can lead to inconsistent syntax across different libraries and frameworks, making it challenging to learn and work with.
  • It’s an interpreted language that can be slower than compiled languages like C++ or Java. While PHP has improved in performance over the years, it can still struggle with scalability and high-traffic applications.
  • It can be difficult to keep up with updates and maintain applications over time, leading to compatibility and functionality issues as new versions of PHP are released.
  • As it’s a loosely typed language, it doesn’t require variable types to be defined before use. While this can make it easy to learn and use, it can also lead to errors and bugs that can be difficult to identify and fix.

Python vs. PHP - main differences


Python has a relatively straightforward syntax that emphasizes readability and simplicity. PHP's syntax can be more complex and challenging to read, especially for beginners.


Python is generally considered slower than PHP for web development due to its interpreted nature. PHP is a faster language, making it a good choice for applications that require speed and efficiency.

Use cases

Python is a general-purpose language for web development, machine learning, data analysis, and many other applications. PHP is mainly used for web development, particularly for creating dynamic web pages.


Both languages have large and active communities, but Python's community tends to focus more on data science and machine learning, while PHP’s is more focused on web development.


Python has several popular web development frameworks, including Django and Flask. PHP also has many popular frameworks, such as Laravel, Symfony, and CodeIgniter.


Python has a wide range of libraries for different purposes, including scientific computing, machine learning, and web development. PHP also has libraries for various purposes but primarily focuses on web development.

Learning curve

Python has a shorter learning curve than PHP, making it easier for beginners to get started. However, PHP's syntax is similar to other programming languages like C and Java, so developers familiar with those languages may find it easier to learn.

Which language to choose?

**Python and PHP are powerful programming languages with strengths and weaknesses. The choice between them depends on the specific needs of the project.

PHP may be the better choice if you're building a web application that requires high speed and efficiency.

If you need a general-purpose language that can be used for a wide range of applications, including web development, the battle is won by Python.**

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