PHP or JavaScript: What Is Better for Your App?

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“Confusion is a luxury which only the very, very young can possibly afford and you are not that young anymore”

James Baldwin

On that note, I believe now is the time to come out of the luxury of confusion and set our concepts straight on what to choose between PHP and JavaScript.

But before that, it is necessary to know some basic facts about the two:

Choosing between PHP and JavaScript was never a question until 2009.

It was irrelevant to compare the two because JavaScript was initially created to be used for front-end development while PHP was always strictly for back-end development, since both of them were used for different phases of application development, it would have been foolish to compare the two.

However, now the tables have turned!

With the introduction of Node JS in JavaScript in 2009,it has become possible for JS to facilitate both front-end as well as back-end web app development.

So developing a full-fledged application is now possible with JavaScript. 

See now it makes sense to compare the two. 

Since both scripting languages are highly preferred by developers and widely used, it would be difficult to determine which one is better.

I think the only clarity this comparison can bring is which language is more suitable for your product. 

Keeping in mind the requirements and goals that you have set up for your product, you can choose which is better and which is not.

In this article, we will cover:

  • What is PHP?
  • What is JavaScript?
  • Comparison between the two based on:
  1. Web development
  2. Popularity
  3. Performance
  4. Community Base
  5. Learning Curve
  • When should you choose what?

So, let’s start with the basics first, before drawing any difference between the two scripting languages, it is essential to understand what they are and how they function.

What is PHP?

As I have been mentioning everywhere, PHP, which is an acronym of Hypertext Processor, is a widely popular and widely preferred scripting language. Both Javascript and PHP are a scripting language, that means they are responsible for providing the script carrying instructions that are then comprehended during the runtime. 

PHP is an open-source scripting language developed in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf, for back-end development. In no time the language received recognition worldwide.

When you develop your website with PHP, it will take care of managing cookies, collecting information from a webpage, and turning a dull website to dynamic. 

As a company offering web app development services we can ensure using PHP your developer can build a dynamic website quickly, another vital aspect of choosing PHP is that your application would have the most popular MySQL as the database.

Around 79% of all websites use PHP; some of the most popular ones are Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia, WordPress, and Tumblr.

Before explaining JavaScript, I would like to inform you that a lot of points might look similar because, well, they are.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a scripting language that is lightweight, high-level, multi-paradigm, and dynamic. Using Javascript, you can turn a static website into a dynamic one. Your developer can simply add the JavaScript codes directly into your HTML document saving you a lot of time.

It was launched in 1995 by Brendan Eich, and now around 69% of developers worldwide prefer using JavaScript, and almost 5% more are planning to switch to it.

Some very famous apps built using JavaScript are: Netflix, Candy Crush, LinkedIn, Facebook and Uber.

So what makes JavaScript so accessible?

The web development capabilities it holds lets a website update certain functions of it without reloading the whole website; it also shows pop up messages and introduces animations. Overall earlier it focused on the front-end development, but now it works on the back-end too, all because of Node JS.

The principal adversary, when comparing Javascript and PHP, is Node JS.

Node JS is the environment that lets JavaScript codes run on the server. After Node JS was introduced in JavaScript, it became a full-stack. If not for Node JS, I would not have written this article.

Node JS is an open-source, cross-platform environment which is used to develop the server-side applications, the applications built upon Node JS can be run within the runtime on OS X, Linux, and Microsoft Windows. It also provides a robust library of different JavaScript modules.

So now that we know what PHP and Javascript are, let’s jump to how they’re different from each other.

PHP vs JavaScript

Based on Web Development

JavaScript: Comparing PHP with JavaScript can be based on the aspect of back-end and front-end web development. 

The JavaScript executes on the browser just after HTML and CSS appear; this makes sure that the main structure is ready before JavaScript runs. It ensures that the front-end always presents new content inside the browser. 

JavaScript can now be used for developing a full-fledged app, thanks to NodeJS

PHP: PHP is strictly back-end, so it leaves no option for front-end development. 

Some other differences, PHP and JavaScript, has are:

  • PHP can communicate easily with databases like MySQL or Oracle, whereas for JavaScript, it is a tough task.
  • Node JS is no child’s play; So you must make sure your developer isn’t just restricted to Javascript, s/he must be aware of functions like callback, blocking and also setting up Node JS to work.
  • Node JS requires more lines of code compared to PHP,so your developer may find it difficult to use. It is a reason that contributes to developers choosing PHP over JavaScript. If your developer finds a task easy s/he would be able to create the product better.
  • PHP is synchronized, which means it only starts one function after other ends; on the other hand, JavaScript is asynchronous. So, PHP would take more time in development than JavaScript.

Based on Popularity

JavaScript: The reason Javascript can overpower PHP is that it is a full-stack development language. If someone says that it is just concerned with the front-end development, show them this article. 

After the introduction of NodeJS, JavaScript has gained massive popularity among the developers since it can now create a full-fledged application all on its own. 

The most significant example is KeenEthics, a software company that is wholly JS-oriented and uses only JS to develop any app.

PHP: PHP is a scripting language that deals with just the back-end development of an application. To develop an application using this tech stack, your developer must hold firm knowledge of all the syntax systems as well as HTML and CSS. 

If your developer is confident with this software, Your application would be dynamic and also would be built quickly using PHP.

Based on Speed and Performance

JavaScript: The multitasking nature of the Node JS allows it to run through the whole code simultaneously with no need to wait for some functions to be executed. 

JS is distinguished as an event-driven, single-threaded, non-blocking input/output model of execution. Since it can multitask, it builds up applications that are faster in performance. 

PHP: It is distinguished as a multi-threaded, blocking Input/Output model of execution. 

It is synchronous, which means one function can only be executed when the earlier one ends.

Although, applications built using PHP are still pretty fast but not in comparison to JavaScript. 

If we compare the two, I would have to say that applications built using JavaScript are faster than the apps built using PHP.

So, based on your application’s needs you can choose which language to use.

Based on Community Base

JavaScript: Another reason that makes JavaScript highly preferred by product owners as well as the developers, is its popularity and universality (that it’s full-stack) and also its extensibility (Lot of frameworks to choose from).

The popularity that JavaScript enjoys can majorly affect the development of your product, because you won’t have to pause your development if your developer gets stuck with a query. You can always lean on to the community base.

Your developer can sort her/his doubts with other experts. 

The stronger the community base, the feasible it would be for your applications development.

JavaScript is used by a lot of  applications, including these big brands: Netflix, LinkedIn, Uber, Airbnb, Instagram, eBay, NASA, and Trello.

PHP: PHP is an open-source scripting language; this open-source nature of it makes it more customizable and flexible to work on. PHP doesn’t only come with advantages like these; an extra benefit of using this language is the strong community of developers it has.

And if you have the back of a strong community base, your development would never come to an halt. If your developer gets stuck with any problem, s/he can immediately sort out the issue with other developers.

Large tech giants prefer using PHP for building up their applications.

Although many applications use PHP, some of the most popular ones built up by this language are 9GAG, Facebook, Tumblr, Wikipedia, Slack, and Lyft.

Based on the Learning Curve

JavaScript: While setting up JavaScript for the server-side is not very complicated, but compared to PHP, it is more difficult. 

If you hire a developer who is new to JavaScript you must know that s/he would have to put in more effort to learn it since it is a bit complex, which could be time taking.

However,using JavaScript would be beneficial for your project in the long term too. Since JavaScript wins a point over PHP in popularity. And a lot of applications use JavaScript, so finding a JS developer would not be a tough task in the future and obviously the strong community base it has is a major benefit.

PHP: PHP is simpler in comparison to JavaScript. So, you can even hire a novice developer since not much effort is required to learn PHP. 

Setting up a server is uncomplicated; it’s as simple as building a .php file, writing a few codes, and entering the URL in the browser.

Also, it is easier to understand the characteristics of PHP than Javascript.

Since PHP is simpler and easy to learn, you will not have a problem finding a PHP developer for your application.

When Should You Choose What?

  • When you have to build a large project, it is always better to choose JavaScript since it can build up an application on both the server-side as well as the client-side. It can develop applications that include 3D graphics, AR/VR solutions, and many more.
  • PHP is a general-purpose scripting language and is mostly used when there is a need for building a dynamic application. With the availability of PHP based CMS (Content Management Systems) like the one and only WordPress, it can be best used for creating blogs, e-commerce websites, or for building learning management systems.

Based on your requirements and the type of site you wish to build, you can choose between the two. Nothing is better than the other if we compare what should be chosen. It is simply a matter of your preference. 

Your tech teams would know which language can bring out the best in your application. Since your basic knowledge of the two languages is strengthened now, you can work efficiently with your developers and build up your application based on your ideas and their expertise.

Sakshi is a technical content writer at Hestabit. She understands the intricacies of writing, and her writing style is eloquent and compelling. She focuses on facilitating growth and cherish writing blogs that are informative and worthy. She understands the market scope and always targets the highest goal.