Python vs. PHP - 2023 Comparison

Photo of Szymon Ozimek

Szymon Ozimek

Updated Oct 23, 2023 • 15 min read

Two programming languages probably couldn't be more different from each other than Python and PHP.

The former is hailed for its simplicity and straightforwardness, while the latter is often criticized for its quirks and tendency to generate spaghetti-like codebases. Python brings to mind modern applications such as machine learning and data science, while PHP is mostly associated with old-timey web development and old-school discussion forums.

Still, both remain popular and have their benefits and disadvantages. In this blogpost, we'll try to present a fair comparison of Python and PHP, taking into account a number of factors which you should consider when choosing the language for your new software or web development project.


As far as sheer features are concerned, PHP has more of them “out of the box”, but Python is much more extensible. To put it differently, PHP comes with batteries included, but Python can be modded to your heart's content. Find the detailed comparison of their features below:


  1. Readability and Simplicity: Python is known for its clean and readable syntax. It uses indentation (whitespace) for code blocks, making it easy to follow. This feature helps developers write more understandable and maintainable code.

  2. Extensibility: Python is highly extensible through the use of modules and libraries. It has a vast standard library, which includes modules for various purposes such as file handling, networking, and data manipulation. Additionally, Python's package manager, pip, allows developers to easily install and share third-party packages.

  3. Versatility: Python is a versatile language used in a wide range of applications, including web development, data analysis, scientific computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and more. Its adaptability and the availability of numerous libraries make it suitable for diverse projects.

  4. Cross-Platform Compatibility: Python is cross-platform, meaning that code written in Python can run on different operating systems without major modifications. This feature is advantageous for building applications that need to work on various platforms.

  5. Strong Community: Python boasts a strong and active community of developers. This community support results in extensive documentation, forums, and resources, making it easier for developers to find solutions to their problems and get guidance.


  1. Server-Side Scripting: PHP is primarily used for server-side scripting. It is embedded within HTML and executed on the web server, which allows developers to create dynamic web pages and interact with databases. This feature is why PHP is widely used in web development.

  2. Batteries Included: PHP comes with a rich set of built-in functions and libraries for web development. It simplifies tasks such as handling forms, connecting to databases, and managing sessions. This approach is often referred to as "batteries included" because many web-related functions are readily available.

  3. Popular Frameworks: While PHP is often used with its built-in features, it is also well-supported by popular frameworks like Laravel, Symfony, and Zend. These frameworks provide structured and efficient tools for building complex web applications.

  4. Integration: PHP can be seamlessly integrated with various databases, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB. This enables developers to create dynamic web applications that interact with data stores.

  5. Simplicity for Web Development: PHP is known for its simplicity in web development. Developers can embed PHP code directly within HTML, which makes it accessible for beginners and experienced developers alike.

  6. Large User Base: PHP has a large and established user base, which means there is a wealth of online resources, tutorials, and forums dedicated to PHP development.

These key features highlight the strengths and primary applications of both Python and PHP as web frameworks. Python is known for its readability, extensibility, and versatility, making it suitable for various domains. On the other hand, PHP excels in web development, with a focus on server-side scripting and an extensive library of web-related functions. Developers often choose between the two based on the specific requirements of their projects.

Maturity of these programming languages

One way of judging maturity other scripting languages is by comparing how long the languages have been around, and Python definitely wins in this regard. It was invented in the late eighties, with its first implementation going live in 1989. PHP is younger, it was first released in 1995. Still, being 20+ years old, both languages can be considered mature, especially in the world of technology, where even one year can feel like a lifetime.

PHP has gone through more iterations than Python - we're currently at version 8.2 of PHP released on November 24, 2022, while the newest Python version has received the number 3.12 released on October 2, 2023 (with 3.13 prerelease planned on October 1, 2024). While this is obviously not a very in-depth metric, you can see that a lot of work has gone into improving PHP, which is not the same language it used to be back in the days of the old web. Another way of looking at it could be that Python was better when it started, while PHP has improved more over time. Either way, both languages could definitely be considered very mature.

Language maturity has a great impact on code stability, backward compatibility, and long-term support for both programming languages:


Code Stability:

  • Python's maturity, with its first implementation in 1989, has contributed to code stability. Over the years, it has undergone rigorous testing and refinements.

  • The Python community places a high value on maintaining code stability. Major releases, such as the transition from Python 2 to Python 3, are carefully managed to minimize disruptions for existing codebases.

Backward Compatibility:

  • Python strives to maintain a degree of backward compatibility. While Python 3 introduced some breaking changes, it did so with the aim of addressing long-standing design issues and improving the language.

  • Python 2.x was officially sunset in 2020, signaling the community's commitment to moving forward with Python 3. However, tools like "2to3" assist in converting Python 2 code to Python 3.

Long-Term Support:

  • Python's maturity translates into robust long-term support. The Python Software Foundation (PSF) and the open-source community provide ongoing maintenance and support for Python.

  • Python's popularity and the abundance of third-party libraries mean that many projects are actively maintained, ensuring a strong ecosystem for the language.


Code Stability:

  • PHP's history, beginning in the mid-1990s, has seen significant improvements in code stability. Early versions of PHP were relatively simple and limited, but subsequent iterations have enhanced both stability and reliability.

Backward Compatibility:

  • PHP has made efforts to maintain backward compatibility. Developers often have the flexibility to run older PHP code on newer versions of the language without extensive modifications.

  • However, some deprecated features have been removed in more recent versions of PHP, and it's essential for developers to stay informed about these changes.

Long-Term Support:

  • PHP benefits from strong long-term support due to its widespread use in web development. Major versions of PHP receive active support for several years and security updates for even longer.

  • The open-source nature of PHP, combined with its large user base, ensures ongoing development, security patches, and community-driven support.

In summary, programming language maturity has a significant impact on code stability, backward compatibility, and long-term support in both Python and PHP:

  • Python, with its longer history, emphasizes stability and maintains a balance between introducing new features and preserving backward compatibility. The transition from Python 2 to Python 3 was a notable example of this approach.

  • PHP, while having started as a simpler scripting language, has matured to become a robust tool for web development. It maintains a degree of backward compatibility, but developers should stay informed about changes in newer versions.

Ultimately, both programming languages have strong communities and organizations that provide long-term support, ensuring that codebases can be maintained and extended with confidence. Developers' choices may depend on specific project requirements, but the maturity of these languages contributes to their reliability and sustainability.

Community and support

Both PHP and Python boast large communities, providing support to new and experienced developers alike. That said, Python has the advantage of being (or at least being perceived as) more modern and more versatile. Since Python can be, and is, used for so many things – from other scripting languages to web development to scientific applications, the community around it is massive. On top of that, Python is backed by the Python Foundation, whose aim is to “promote, protect, and advance the Python programming language, and to support and facilitate the growth of a diverse and international community of Python programmers”. PHP, although definitely not forgotten or abandoned, has a smaller community behind it. mostly because of its perception as a cumbersome, “uncool” language.

Learning curve

Both languages have been praised for their relative simplicity and the ease with which even completely green developers can pick them up. Both are also very well-documented and have IDEs for all operating systems (Windows, macOS, Linux). Picking a winner in this category will be difficult on merit alone. Still, if we had to make a recommendation, we'd go with Python. Thanks to its ever-growing popularity, the language is covered by innumerable online courses and often taught at university to CS students, something that can't be said about PHP.

Below you can find some examples of resources and available educational content:


Educational Resources:

  • Python offers an abundance of educational resources for beginners. The official Python website provides comprehensive documentation and tutorials that cater to novice programmers.

  • The "Python for Beginners" section on the Python website is an excellent starting point. It offers introductory materials, including a beginner's guide, which covers the basics of Python programming.

Online Courses:

  • Python's popularity has led to the creation of numerous online courses and tutorials. Platforms like Coursera, edX, Udemy, and Codecademy offer beginner-friendly Python courses.

  • "Python for Data Science" and "Introduction to Python Programming" are some popular courses that cater to learners with varying levels of expertise.

University Programs:

  • Python is increasingly taught in university computer science programs due to its simplicity and versatility. Many universities incorporate Python into their introductory programming courses.

  • Python's readability and comprehensibility make it an excellent choice for students new to programming.

Advantages for Learners:

  • Python's clean and readable syntax minimizes the learning curve. This feature is particularly advantageous for beginners, as it reduces the chances of syntax-related errors and encourages good coding practices.

  • The extensive Python community means that learners have access to a wealth of support, including forums, Q&A sites, and tutorials.

  • Python's versatility, with applications in web development, data science, and more, offers learners the opportunity to explore various domains within a single language.


Educational Resources:

  • PHP also provides educational resources, though its focus is primarily on web development. The PHP website offers documentation and tutorials geared towards web development beginners.

  • Resources like "PHP: The Right Way" serve as guides for best practices in PHP web development.

Online Courses:

  • Online platforms, including Udemy and LinkedIn Learning, offer PHP courses for beginners. These courses typically target web development using PHP, covering topics like building dynamic websites and web applications.

University Programs:

  • PHP is less commonly taught in university computer science programs as a primary language for introductory courses. Instead, it may be covered in web development or server-side scripting segments of the curriculum.

Advantages for Learners:

  • PHP's primary strength lies in web development. If learners aim to become web developers, PHP can provide a focused path to acquiring this skill.

  • PHP's integration with databases, like MySQL, makes it a practical choice for students interested in web applications and databases.

In summary, both Python and PHP offer educational resources for beginners, but they have different focuses:

  • Python's clean syntax and versatility make it an excellent choice for learners looking to explore various programming domains.

  • PHP is particularly beneficial for individuals interested in web development and creating dynamic web applications.

The choice between Python and PHP for learning largely depends on the specific goals of the learner, whether they want a general-purpose language (Python) or intend to specialize in a web app development (PHP).


When assessing the usability of Python versus PHP, you should delve into their underlying architectural principles. Both languages adopt an object-oriented approach, encapsulating code modules within objects, and promoting principles like encapsulation, inheritance, polymorphism, and abstraction.

Python, renowned for its clean and structured code, places objects and classes at its core, ensuring maintainable code. PHP, while embracing object-oriented programming, offers a degree of flexibility and is often associated with web development. The choice between Python and PHP typically hinges on personal preferences and development teams' familiarity with object-oriented principles, with many developers favoring Python for its elegant syntax and readability.

Use cases

Although PHP can be (and sometimes is) used for other purposes, it is intended as a web development language. Trying to do other things with PHP is not impossible, but using it for other things should be avoided or considered only as an intellectual exercise in bending a technology to your will. In a word, PHP is meant for web and web only.

Python, on the other hand, is infinitely more versatile. It can be used for web development, but also many, many other things. Some examples include data science, machine learning, natural language processing, image processing and, last but not least, mobile and desktop web application development. Odds are that if something can be done, it can be done with Python.

Python or PHP? Make an informed decision

Python and PHP are two mature programming languages with solid community backing, documentation, and support. PHP, while younger, is considered messy and uncool by many, although it can be very powerful when used for its intended purpose, which is web development. Python, the older of the two, with its countless modules and libraries, modularity and inherent simplicity, is a favourite of programmers across all domains of software. Whatever you choose to do with it, you probably can't go wrong, because Python is so adaptable and easy to use that it can be used to achieve almost any programming objective quickly and efficiently.

Still unsure about which language to choose? Need help with your Python or PHP project? Get in touch, we're always happy to talk!

Photo of Szymon Ozimek

More posts by this author

Szymon Ozimek

How to build products fast?  We've just answered the question in our Digital Acceleration Editorial  Sign up to get access

We're Netguru!

At Netguru we specialize in designing, building, shipping and scaling beautiful, usable products with blazing-fast efficiency

Let's talk business!

Trusted by: