PHP vs Javascript? - What should you choose?

In this short tutorial, we take a closer look at a controversial topic that is PHP vs JavaScript. We look at their pros and cons and weigh them against each other.

Table of Contents


PHP vs JavaScript: An Overview

Most blogs under this topic would mention that comparing PHP and JavaScripts are like comparing apples and oranges. However, the rationale supporting this is - PHP is used on the server-side, whereas JavaScript is primarily used on the client-side. Although javascript is largely used on the client-side, the development of NodeJS (A backend framework) has made javascript a full-stack programming language.

JavaScript - Pros and Cons

JavaScript as a language was developed to create dynamic and interactive websites improving the user experience. Catering to the client-side it was built to have minimal server interaction, reducing the load on the server. And because of this high-performance Javascript is often used on one-page websites and streaming platforms. The pros of Javascript don't stop here, the introduction of frameworks such as ReactJS, AngularJS, VueJS, NodeJS, etc has made it an extensible language. And with each framework offering different functionality and performance developers are quick to adopt them.

This leads us to our first con, given its vast usage the learning curve can be quite intimidating, and with each framework offering a different syntax it would require significant dedication and practice to master them. However, the returns on doing so are quite significant and in case you are looking to enter mobile development, javascript is the way forward. Another major con when it comes to using Javascript is security. With the source code easily visible to anyone, it has become a major concern. There are ways for you to enhance security but these methods would require additional effort.

PHP - Pros and Cons

PHP is a general-purpose language that has also been around since 1995. Similar to Javascript, PHP also has a large active community and was built to suit web development. And since PHP has always cantered to backend development it has a rich library and support to more features and much better security than javascript.

Areas, where PHP stands out, are its seamless performance with Content Management Systems like Word press, Drupal, etc. This is why PHP is commonly used in blogs, Media, and E-commerce websites. Another pro is its compatibility with serves like SQL, MariaDB, Postgresql, etc. The only con I have faced while using PHP has been its performance - Unlike Javascript, PHP is synchronous and this makes it lose out on speed and performance.

When it comes to the learning curve, PHP is significantly easier. Tasks such as setting up a server are quite simple, and the frameworks as well can be easily learned without many prerequisites.

Closing thoughts - PHP vs JavaScript

If you have reached it this far you must be aware of the pros and cons of each language. And it must be quite evident that choosing between the two would boil to the use-case and the developers' knowledge of the languages. My personal choice would be to chose JavaScript/ PHP while working on complicated websites as this would allow you to get the best of both halves. A few famous websites that utilize this are - Wikipedia, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.

However, if you are competent in Javascript and looking to build a smaller one-page or streaming website - hands down javascript all the way.