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Python vs. PHP: Which Is The Best Choice For Your Website?

Python and PHP are among the most popular web development languages in the world. Each has its own strengths, weaknesses, and quirks. But which of the two is superior? More importantly, which one is a better choice for your business?

It’ll probably be easier to start things off with how the languages are similar to one another.

Both are high-level, interpreted languages equipped with dynamic typing.

Both are fairly easy to learn, supported by thriving development communities, and are extremely portable and extensible, and both are compatible with a wide range of operating systems.

Where the two start to diverge from one another, writes developed Sam Norton, is in what they’re best-suited for doing.

PHP, Norton explains, is an excellent web development language, but is also ill-suited for the creation of desktop applications. What’s more, error handling in PHP is typically quite poor, and it’s generally considered to be less secure than the competition. In spite of this, it still remains one of the most popular languages on the web, installed on around 39% of websites as of January 2013.

Python, meanwhile, is far less specialized than PHP. It’s more of a general-purpose language, and tends to be significantly easier to learn. Unfortunately, it isn’t as suitable for applications that require the use of multiple cores, and suffers from database access layer limitations. It’s also said to be considerably slower than Java and its ilk, while the lack of a commercial support point and smaller pool of development professionals means that there are generally fewer add-ons and resources available for those who choose to create with Python.

Now, this information’s all pretty fascinating, I’m sure…but it doesn’t get us any closer to answering our initial question. Which of the two languages is the best option for your business?

Honestly…it depends on what you’re looking to do, and what platform you’re using.

PHP is undoubtedly the most popular choice, particularly if you’re using a Content Management System like WordPress or Drupal. The fast, flexible language is an ideal choice for web-servers and web-based applications alike. Not only that, it equips developers who use it with the capacity to create incredibly dynamic, interactive websites.

Python, meanwhile, is a great choice for beginners – and an excellent option if you’re planning to develop applications that aren’t solely intended for use on the web; its ease of use means it’s also ideally suited for use in multidisciplinary development teams. In addition, its capacity for rapid prototyping means it’s easy to work with, and its versatility means that more and more programmers are beginning to swear by it as an alternative to PHP.

So…what am I getting at here?

That ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what language you use to code your website. It really all just comes down to a matter of preference. None of the most popular languages is truly superior to the others; if you’re crafty enough, there’s no reason you can’t get the same functionality out of Ruby or JavaScript (and node.js) that you could out of Python or PHP. At the end of the day, just choose whatever you’re most comfortable with – and whatever best fits your platform.

Image credit: hackNY.org

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Andrew Horton

Andrew Horton

Andrew Horton is Digital Media Producer for ServerMania.