Both Python and PHP are multi-purpose programming languages. However, Python has gained more popularity because of its rich library support for data science and machine learning tasks.
On the other hand, PHP is one of the most used languages for web development. This article explores the various features, applications, and advantages of both languages and then compares both.
What is Python?
Python is a high-level programming language with easy-to-read, English-like syntax. Python can be used for web development using popular frameworks like Django, Flask, and Web2Py. It is also used extensively by analysts and data scientists to perform statistics and machine learning tasks. Let us write a simple code to find some statistics on a sample data of 10 points:
import numpy as np mydata = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10] print(np.mean(mydata))
Features of Python
The most important feature of Python is that it has a very easily readable syntax. Other important features of Python are:
- Dynamically typed language, so no need to declare the data type of a variable
- An interpreted language with an interactive development environment
- Follows OOP approach
- Vibrant community and developer support
- Open-source and free
- Extensive library support for common functionalities
- Cross-platform support
- Python code can be embedded in other languages and vice-versa (extensible)
Advantages of Python
Python gained much popularity because of its extensive support for data science and machine learning tasks. The main advantage offered by Python is the rich library support for various types of data science and analytics tasks. Libraries like numpy, pandas, matplotlib, sci-kit-learn make it easy to perform calculations, store and retrieve data for processing, plot data using different types of charts, and write machine learning algorithms, respectively.
Not only that, Python can be used for web application development, with frameworks like Django, Flask, game development using pygame, desktop GUI development using Tkinter, and web scripting.
Applications of Python
Applications of Python range from web application development, game development, data analysis, machine learning to research, scientific computing, and artificial intelligence. Some real-world applications of Python are:
Python supports many frameworks that provide security, scalability, and reusable components and makes web development easier.
Python has rich library support like PyGame, PySoy to build interactive 3D games.
Data analysis, web scraping, visualization, machine learning, and artificial intelligence tasks are much more simplified now, thanks to the support Python provides with rich libraries like numpy, pandas, scipy, scikit-learn, seaborn, and many more.
Using the Tkinter library and other widgets like PYQT and Kivy, we can build python desktop applications.
Embedded applications can use Python because of its versatility for computations. A well-known example of this is Raspberry Pi.
What is PHP?
PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a server-side scripting language. PHP can be embedded anywhere in an HTML document using the
?> tags. Some popular PHP frameworks are Laravel, Symfony, and Phalcon. Here is a simple HTML code that contains a small PHP script:
<!DOCTYPE html> <html> <body> <h1>Find mean of given numbers</h1> <?php $numbers = array(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10); $mean = array_sum($numbers) / count($numbers); ?> <h2>The mean is <?php echo $mean; ?></h2> </body> </html>
Note that there is no direct method for finding the mean, but we could print the result on our page simply by adding the script.
Features of PHP
PHP is simple to write and can be effortlessly embedded into HTML code. Some of its important features are:
- Simple, fast, flexible, and efficient
- Interpreted, thus no need for an additional compilation step
- Open-source and free, vibrant community support
- It runs on all major platforms like Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac
- Dynamically-typed – so no need to declare variable data types
- Error reporting and real-time access monitoring
- Performs form handling and data validation
- A narrow learning curve, simple syntax
Advantages of PHP
Of all the server-side scripting languages, PHP is the most popular because of the following advantages:
- Makes custom web development and maintenance fast and simple using various frameworks
- Faster processing speed, as PHP uses its own memory, so there is less load on the server
- Supports all major servers like Microsoft IIS, Apache, and many more
- It gives more control to web developers
- Highly performant code
Applications of PHP
Apart from building web pages and scalable web applications, PHP is much suitable for the following applications:
- Web content management systems: PHP supports many databases, including SQL and NoSQL, and is highly suitable for creating CMS like WordPress
- Data representation and visualization using tools like Image_Graph
- Creating HTML driven invoices in PDF format using the PDFLib tool
- eCommerce applications such as Ubercart, OpenCart, zen cart, etc.
- Desktop GUI applications using tools like ZZEE PHP GUI, or DevelStudio
We have seen that both PHP and Python are multi-purpose programming languages, providing excellent features, exhaustive documentation, and vibrant community support.
Both languages have their own advantages and disadvantages, and you can choose any of the languages depending on your project needs.
Here is a head-to-head comparison to make your choice easier:
|Ease of learning||Easy to learn. However, you need to know HTML to be able to use PHP code||If you are new to software development, Python could as well be the first language you learn|
|Syntax||Easy syntax, just like plain English||Follows few naming conventions, need some development experience to understand the syntax|
|Speed to market||It comes with frameworks like Laravel that speed up the development process, thus quickly creating ready-for-production apps.||Frameworks like Django come with reusable libraries and packages, thus creating web applications quickly.|
|Speed/Performance||PHP 7.0 beats Python because of its powerful Zend Engine 3.0||Fast and powerful|
|Security||Although the security features are much better in PHP now, it still poses a lot of vulnerabilities and needs improvement.||Used by government agencies and businesses alike because of robust security features. For example, Django has built-in security features that prevent vulnerabilities early on.|
|Community||A large and diverse community||Same as PHP has a vast and growing community|
|Versatility||Limited libraries and packages cover only a few domains||Vast coverage and extensive libraries for many domains, including image processing, AI, and more|
|Scalability||PHP is scalable but is still less open to the growing trends and demands||Offers high scalability and easily adapts to the ever increasing number of users and changing trends|
We have compared the two most popular programming languages, PHP vs. Python. We saw a small code snippet to demonstrate that Python has ready-to-use functions even for the smallest of tasks. Similarly, PHP can be quickly embedded into an HTML document.
Python is more convenient when it comes to learning and libraries. In contrast, PHP is more structured, has a more organized syntax, and is suitable for web application development. Developers may decide which one to choose for their specific use cases.
You may be interested in Unit Testing with Python unittest Module.
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