PHP is an open-source and general-purpose scripting language used across the globe for web development. In 1994, Rasmus Lerdorf created PHP using the C language and some components of the C++ language. But it came into the market in 1995. Initially, PHP was referred to as Personal Home Page, and currently, PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor.
As PHP is an interpreted language, there is no need to compile the PHP code. Also, it is a server-side scripting language, and web developers use it to work with databases, add dynamic content to web pages and perform session tracking.
This article will introduce you to some significant features, benefits, and drawbacks of PHP. Also, we shall see some top alternatives to the PHP language along with their key features.
Features of PHP
Web developers generally use PHP with MySQL to design and develop dynamic web applications. Here we have listed some noteworthy features of PHP:
The PHP script is significantly faster to execute than other scripts written in Active Server Pages (ASP) and Java Server Pages (JSP). The server’s loading time and workload get reduced as PHP utilizes its own memory. Therefore, PHP ensures high performance and incredibly fast processing speed.
PHP is compatible with almost all major operating systems, such as Windows, macOS, OpenVMS, IBM i, and Unix-like systems. Therefore, it is a platform-independent language. You can execute a PHP script on any operating system, despite being scripted on a different operating system.
Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is an open-source language, meaning that its source code is accessible to everyone. Also, all components of PHP are free to use.
4. Embedded and Easy to Learn
We can embed PHP scripts easily within HTML tags. In addition, PHP syntaxes are so familiar and analogous to the C language that even beginners can learn it effortlessly.
5. Loosely Typed Language
PHP is a loosely typed scripting language, meaning that we can declare any variable in PHP without defining its data type. The PHP interpreter automatically determines the data type of a variable at the time of execution, depending on the data value.
6. Web Server Support
PHP offers support for all significant local servers, such as Netscape, Microsoft IIS, Apache, etc.
7. Strong Community
Many renowned developers and programmers are a part of the PHP community. They regularly update the documentation, tutorials, and FAQs to make learners aware of every new aspect of PHP.
Pros and Cons of PHP
Now let us focus on some of the main benefits and drawbacks of PHP. The drawbacks of PHP will help you understand why there is a need for its alternative.
- One of the best benefits of PHP is that it is available for free. Therefore, it becomes possible for everyone to download and use PHP for creating web applications.
- You can run PHP code on any platform or operating system.
- Applications developed using PHP can load quickly.
- The PHP syntax is similar to the syntax of the C language. Therefore, individuals who know C can effortlessly learn PHP.
- PHP has robust library support, allowing developers to use several function modules and develop projects quickly.
- There are built-in database connection modules in PHP that make it trouble-free for developers to create web applications with strong database support.
- One of the significant drawbacks of PHP is that it is not considered a secure language, as it is open-source.
- This language is not ideal for large-scale content-based applications. Applications developed using PHP are difficult to maintain, as this language is not highly modular.
- Earlier, we have discussed that there is no requirement for defining data type while declaring a variable in PHP. Therefore, the confusion between hash tables and an array is one of the most common or likely things to happen.
- The most crucial drawback of PHP is that its error handling methods are poor. Therefore, it would not be an ideal solution for professional web developers.
10 Best PHP Alternatives
Though PHP is one of the most popular scripting languages for web development, it has certain limitations. However, you can opt for some other programming languages if you find PHP unsuitable for your web development projects.
We have created a list of 10 PHP alternatives that would help you pick the most suitable one. Here it goes!
It is a high-level, general-purpose programming language that enables developers to write code once and run on any system using Java Runtime Environment (JRE). Therefore, ‘Write once, Run anywhere’ is the primary motto of Java.
While most programming languages can either be compiled or interpreted, Java can be both compiled and interpreted. In addition, Java is multi-paradigm, i.e., it is a generic, functional, object-oriented, imperative, and reflective programming language.
One of the most significant benefits of Java is that it supports the simultaneous execution of tasks and hence saves a lot of time. The Java Enterprise Edition (JEE) platform provides several Java technologies for developing web applications. Also, it offers multiple services, such as web services, distributed computing, etc.
Some technologies for developing web applications in Java are Servlet API, Java Server Pages (JSP), Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) API, Java Persistence API, and JavaServer Faces Technology (JSF). Developing web applications in Java requires you to use a framework, and some popular Java frameworks are Spring, Grails, Struts, Google Web Toolkit, etc.
PHP vs Java
- PHP is interpreted, whereas Java is compiled and interpreted.
- We can execute PHP code on the server, whereas the Java code executes on the client machine.
- PHP is perfect for developing small to medium projects, whereas Java is ideal for creating large-scale applications.
One of the key reasons why Node.js is the preferred backend development technology is that it can run asynchronous code on the server. Running such asynchronous code on the server helps boost its performance and increases the server’s ability to manage more connections or requests from a client.
Ruby is yet another popular alternative to PHP. It is an interpreted dynamic language that primarily concentrates on productivity and simplicity. Like Java, Ruby is also a general-purpose programming language. In addition, it is an object-oriented, functional, reflective, and imperative language.
The main reason for the widespread popularity of Rails frameworks is that its focus on quick prototyping and Convention-Over-Configuration pattern. In addition, Ruby on Rails provides several plugins and gems that accelerate the web development process and makes it easier for developers to work with databases.
Other well-known Ruby frameworks for web development include Huna, Kubam, and Sinatra. Ruby is perfect for developing eCommerce websites, regular web applications, and custom database solutions.
PHP vs Ruby
- When it comes to development speed, Ruby is quicker than PHP.
- We can use PHP to develop web applications, whereas we can use Ruby to build web as well as desktop applications.
- Developing and deploying web applications with Ruby is relatively more challenging as compared to PHP.
Today, most web developers use Python instead of PHP for server-side development. It is an interpreted and general-purpose programming language. Python primarily focuses on code readability, as it uses indentation. In addition, it follows an object-oriented approach, helping programmers write clear and consistent code.
Python supports multiple programming paradigms, like functional, structural, object-oriented, reflective, and procedural. It has a comprehensive standard library, and hence it has the name ‘batteries included’ language.
The famous web framework for Python is Django. The framework comes loaded with several features that allow developers to build robust web applications. Another web development framework for Python that is quite popular among beginners as well as seasoned developers is Flask.
One of the most notable advantages of working with Python is that it has a large community. Many renowned developers and programmers contribute their knowledge for the betterment of Python.
PHP vs Python
- We can use Python for both machine learning and server-side development, whereas PHP only supports web development.
- Another advantage of using Python over PHP is that Python is easy to learn and requires less maintenance.
- In terms of speed, PHP is three times faster than Python.
- Python has less number of frameworks, whereas PHP has a broad spectrum of frameworks.
Go, also called Golang, is yet another alternative to PHP. It is a compiled programming language and is syntactically analogous to the C language. In addition, it is called Golang because of its domain name, golang.org. It follows several programming paradigms, such as object-oriented, functional, concurrent, and imperative.
The language is compatible with multiple operating systems, such as Windows, macOS, Plan 9, FreeBSD, DragonFly BSD, Solaris, OpenBSD, and NetBSD. Moreover, Go is even easier to learn and use than Python.
The primary reason why Go is one of the most elite choices for web development is that it is a compiled and concurrent programming language that accelerates the development process. Another advantage of Go is that it offers an automatic garbage collector. Some popular Go frameworks for web development are Mango, Gorilla, Web.go, Beego, etc.
The Go language is an ideal choice for developing large-scale distributed systems. Also, it is perfect for developing cloud-native apps, distributed network services, media platforms with high load, like Netflix, YouTube, etc., and other on-demand services.
PHP vs Go
- PHP has a larger community than Go. Therefore, you can expect better community support while writing PHP scripts.
- Go, or Golang can be a far better choice in terms of performance than PHP.
- Golang is much faster than PHP when it comes to running tests.
C# is yet another general-purpose programming language and a great alternative to PHP. This programming language is associated with Microsoft’s next-generation web development framework called ASP.NET. Also, the ASP.NET framework offers multiple fully-functional libraries that make C# an ideal solution for developers to write Windows applications and programs.
C# follows multiple programming disciplines, namely object-oriented, generic, concurrent, reflective, imperative, structured, event-driven, functional, and task-driven. This language is incredibly simple and easy to comprehend. Web developers use C# to create various components of software applications that are deployed in distributed environments.
If you are familiar with C and Java languages, it is a cinch for you to learn C#. Additionally, C# is a perfect solution for scripting code for embedded and hosted systems. Also, it is a suitable choice for developing games and web projects.
You do not have to install external libraries to run C# on Windows. In addition, it can work seamlessly with other operating systems, like macOS and Linux.
PHP vs C#
- We use PHP only to develop web applications, whereas C# allows us to develop cloud-native apps and services, web applications, and many more.
- C# follows an object-oriented programming approach, whereas PHP does not.
Elixir is a dynamic and general-purpose programming language that serves as one of the most acceptable PHP alternatives. This language runs on the BEAM virtual machine, and BEAM stands for Bodan’s Erlang Abstract Machine.
This dynamic language supports various programming principles, like concurrent, functional, process-oriented, and distributed. Many reputed companies, like Pinterest, Discord, PagerDuty, FarmBot, etc., use Elixir for generating embedded systems. Elixir has built-in tools for running tests, remote debugging, compiling code, managing dependencies, etc.
The most typical Elixir framework for developing low-latency and top-notch distributed systems is none other than Phoenix. However, Phoenix is a pretty new framework compared to the ones used by other programming languages. Some of the most popular frameworks available for Elixir include Sugar, Nerves, Plug, Hedwig, and Placid.
Elixir is a perfect solution for developing scalable and reliable applications and high-traffic websites. The three significant characteristics of Elixir are concurrency, scalability, and reliability. With the concurrency feature, it can manage thousands of users without affecting the performance.
PHP vs Elixir
- PHP is a popular language due to its large community and easy deployment process, whereas Elixir is famous for its concurrency, scalability, and reliability.
- We use Elixir for developing scalable applications, whereas PHP is suitable for developing standard web applications.
Erlang is yet another robust programming language that is also a well-known PHP alternative. It is a general-purpose programming language. In addition, this language follows functional and concurrent programming principles.
A single Erlang application is a collection of multiple small processes. It has a small yet effective set of primitives to develop processes and enable communication between them.
There is a runtime system in Erlang that offers support for fault tolerance, concurrency, and distribution. This language is a perfect choice for building highly scalable real-time systems.
Moreover, it is a suitable choice for developing different types of software applications, like banking, computer telephony, telecoms, eCommerce, and instant messaging. There is an inets library in Erlang for building web servers.
There are four popular Erlang frameworks for developing web applications, and they are N2), Zotonic, ChicagoBoss, and Nitrogen. Using Erlang for building HTML pages would not be a good choice as it is best suitable for developing REST API on the backend.
PHP vs Erlang
- Erlang is a garbage-collected runtime system and a functional programming language, whereas PHP is a server-side scripting language.
- The large community of PHP makes it popular, whereas distributed and real-time applications of Erlang convince developers to choose it over others.
Rust is another most loved programming language for developing web applications and serves as the best PHP alternative. It is a general-purpose and open-source programming language. In addition, it supports multiple programming principles, like concurrency, functional, structured, imperative, and generic.
This programming language has earned popularity in the programming world, and Microsoft is experimenting with the Rust language to create robust and secure software components. One of the best parts of this language is that it eliminates several significant issues associated with web development.
Rust primarily concentrates on memory safety, concurrency, and speed. Many developers across the world use Rust to build different types of software applications, like game engines, browser components, simulation engines, file systems, and operating systems.
For developers who want to build microcontroller applications, rust is a viable option. In addition, it is also suitable for bare-metal and embedded development. Many top software applications, like Dropbox, Firefox, and Cloudflare, use Rust.
PHP vs Rust
- The popularity of PHP is due to its extensive community support, whereas Rust is prevalent for its guaranteed memory safety feature.
- Renowned companies that use PHP are Facebook, Lyft, etc., whereas Dropbox, Sentry, etc., are companies that make use of Rust.
- PHP has broader approval than Rust.
You may be surprised to see C++ on this list of the best alternatives to PHP. However, C++ is a language that can literally do everything, including web development.
C++ is a compiled and general-purpose programming language. Moreover, it follows object-oriented, generic, procedural, functional, and modular programming paradigms.
Developers use the C++ language for creating high-performance and efficient embedded applications and resource-constrained software. In addition, C++ allows you to build a wide variety of applications, like games, database software, browsers, desktop applications, compilers, GUI-based applications, and cloud or distributed systems.
With C++, we can write back-end or server-side code for web applications. In addition, many developers use Common Gateway Interface (CGI) to access C++ code on the server. An array of web frameworks are available for the C++ language, like WT.
PHP vs C++
- PHP is an interpreted language, whereas C++ is compiled.
- C++ is an object-oriented language, whereas PHP is a server-side scripting language.
- We can use C++ for building large-sized applications, whereas PHP is ideal for small and medium-sized applications.
- Developers generally use C++ to build system software, whereas they use PHP for building web applications.
- C++ is relatively more secure than PHP.
Though PHP is a widely accepted and robust scripting language used in web development, some of its shortcomings make people move towards its alternatives.
In this article, we have handpicked and listed the 10 best PHP alternatives and also mentioned what they are individually best at. In addition, we have discussed the significant differences between PHP and each of its alternatives. After going through this curated list of PHP alternatives, you will be very clear about choosing the best PHP alternative as per your requirements.
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