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 the pros and cons of the two technologies 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 is like comparing apples and oranges.

The rationale supporting this is - PHP is used on the server-side, whereas JavaScript is primarily used on the client side.

Although JavaScript was earlier largely used on the client-side, the development of NodeJS has made JavaScript a full-stack programming language. Hence, JS and PHP are comparable.

JavaScript - Pros and Cons

JavaScript was developed to provide a dynamic and interactive user experience. While catering to the client side it was built to have minimal interaction with the server, subsequently reducing the load on the servers.

JavaScript is also known for its high performance and is hence commonly used to create one-page websites and streaming platforms. The pros of JavaScript don't stop here, after the introduction of frameworks such as ReactJS, AngularJS, NodeJS, etc the language was able to cater to more specific use cases effectively.

This leads us to our first con, given its vast usage, its learning curve can be quite intimidating. With each framework offering a different syntax it would require significant dedication and practice to master. However, the return on doing so is quite significant.

Furthermore, if you are looking to enter mobile development, JavaScript provides support for native development as well.

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. Although there are ways for you to enhance security these methods would require additional effort.

PHP - Pros and Cons

PHP is a general-purpose language that has been around since 1995. Similar to JavaScript, PHP also has a large active community and was built to suit web development. PHP has always catered to backend development and because of this, it has a rich library, gives support to more features, and provides 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 because of this loses 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 this far you must be aware of the pros and cons of each language. Now It must be quite evident that choosing between the two boils down to the use-case and the developers' knowledge of the languages.

My personal choice would be to choose JavaScript/ PHP for frontend/backend respectively 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.

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