PHP and Python are currently among the most popular programming languages for “backend” development. Both are dynamically typed, object-oriented languages that are powerful and fast.

However, there are differences between the two languages. PHP is especially suited for web development while Python’s strength is more in ease of use and for specific applications like Machine Learning.

In this article, we will explore the differences between these two back-end programming languages.

Read on to discover which language is more readable, easier to learn, faster in execution, and learn which language offers the best tools for what you intend to do. 

Python vs PHP Code Source:

PHP vs Python: The Differences

1. Syntax

Let’s get started with the differences in syntax.

Python has the more readable syntax. Right from the start, Guido van Rossum set out to develop a simple and intuitive coding language with ABC-like syntax. 

PHP, on the other hand, borrowed from languages such as C, C++, and Perl. Because of this, PHP syntax is slightly more complicated.

It’s syntax is characterized by curly braces, semicolons, and dollar signs, and it uses a wide range of naming conventions.

2. Web Framework options

Both PHP and Python have strong web frameworks so building web applications is easy and fast with either language.

Django and Flask are the top Python frameworks while most PHP web developers use Laravel and Symfony.

Django is easy to use, fast, has security features integrated, and builds scalable applications. Flask hasn’t been around for long but it’s still fast and secure.

As for PHP frameworks, Laravel is the best framework for performance. It makes task management and authentication simple and fast. Symfony has a nice set of features that makes updating code easy. 

3. Libraries Support

Both languages have been around for a long time now (since the early 90s) and have well-developed libraries for different applications. 

However, Python beats PHP when it comes to machine learning libraries. Python offers fast and easy to use machine learning libraries including TensorFlow, Keras, Pandas, Theano, and Scikit Learn.

PHP also has some offerings on Packagist but it has a long way to go to be on a par with Python’s offerings. 

The package management for both languages is equally simple and fast. Python uses PiP while PHP makes use of Composer

4. Versatility

Both PHP and Python run on a wide range of operating systems and web servers.

PHP is easy to install on any operating system including Windows, Mac OS, Unix, and Linux.

Python is also a breeze to install on Linux. However, installing Python on Windows and Mac operating systems is a bit more complicated.

In terms of applications, Python is more versatile. As a general purpose language, its applications range from web development, data analysis, machine learning, to artificial intelligence. 

PHP has also come along way from its early days. Besides web development, it can also be used as a general purpose scripting language to help automate tasks (no need for a web server).

However, neither language will help you much when it comes to mobile development. If that’s the priority, we’d advise you to consider Java, Kotlin, and Swift.

5. PHP vs Python Salary

The average annual salary for python developers is higher than that of PHP developers.

The average annual salary for a PHP programmer is $81,000, while a Python developer takes home an average of $120,000 per year. 

6. Is PHP or Python Easier to Learn?

Both PHP and Python are among the easiest to learn programming languages.

Both languages also boast robust documentation, terrific debuggers, and are backed by vibrant communities of developers.

That said, whether you will find PHP or Python easier to learn will depend on your background.

Because of its English-like syntax, Python is easier for beginners to read and write. In fact, Python is considered one of the best programming languages for beginners to learn first.

Thanks to its C like syntax, PHP is very easy for seasoned developers already fluent in other programming languages to learn and get up and running with PHP.

However, it’s varied naming conventions might make it a bit tricky for beginners to master. 

7. Is PHP Faster Than Python?

PHP is faster than python. This makes PHP the ideal option for websites and applications where performance is critical.

But Python isn’t too bad either. Even though it has a reputation for being slow, it actually offers some advantages when it comes to speed.

Since it has a Just-In-Time compiler and requires only a few lines of code, Python code is also fast enough in execution. Just not as fast as PHP. 

8. PHP or Python for Web Development

PHP is the dominant web development language for good reason. It works well with HTML, deployment is easy, the runtime is very fast, and hosting is easy to find.

Unfortunately, these advantages don’t apply to Python. Still, python has the upper hand when it comes to creating scalable applications and adopting emerging technologies.

Its well-developed machine learning and artificial intelligence libraries easily integrate with its web frameworks. It’s, therefore, easy to create websites and web applications that apply machine learning and AI.

9. The Future of PHP and Python

Both languages have been featuring in top ten programming languages rankings for quite a number of years. Both languages also have a strong user base.

However, Python is growing at a higher rate than the rate at which PHP is growing. This is thanks to its modularity and compatibility with the technologies of the future.

Instagram, YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, and Uber are examples of companies using Python for web development.

Even though PHP is on a slow decline, it isn’t becoming obsolete anytime soon. The majority of websites are PHP based and will need support for years to come.

PHP is also evolving at a very rapid pace, becoming more capable with every new version released.

Some big sites using PHP as their main backend language include Facebook, Yahoo, Slack, and WordPress.  


As you can see, both PHP and Python are very powerful backend programming languages.

Both languages have elaborate documentation and boast a variety of libraries and frameworks.

What language to use comes down to the project at hand. Sometimes PHP will offer performance advantages and sometimes Python will accomplish what you want with fewer lines of code.

If you’re deciding what language to learn, Python is a great language to start with as a beginner programmer while PHP is a great language to start your backend web developer career with. 

Hopefully, our PHP vs Python comparison has made it easier to decide what language to go with.

Still, you don’t have to choose just one. Being proficient in both Python and PHP will make you an even better back end developer.