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PHP vs Python vs Ruby – And the Winner Is…

If you are about to choose a programming language for your project the options often boil down to PHP, Python, and Ruby on Rails. While there are lots of articles and blogs floating on the Internet talking about PHP vs Python or PHP vs Ruby. But, there are few that have comprehensively compared these (PHP vs Python vs Ruby) three programming languages. Which one should you opt for if you are starting with a new project? Has there been a clear winner when we have Ruby vs Python vs PHP? We shall do a detailed study of these three languages, look at their pros and cons before arriving at a conclusion.

# PHP vs Python vs Ruby: Market Share

Though it isn’t a conclusive metric to choose a winner among programming languages and tools it is definitely a great starting point. In fact, there are thousands of businesses and budding programmers who rely on these numbers to make a choice. If we go by market share alone PHP doesn’t face any competition from even its nearest competitor ASP.NET with a whopping 83.1% market share. The real battle here Python vs. Ruby where Ruby on Rails has three times as much market share as Python.

# PHP vs Python vs Ruby: Powered Sites

When it comes to choosing a tool for web development project we often like to know about the bigger websites or businesses that use similar tools. And all the three platforms have their own loyalist. Here are some of the top websites that use these platforms.

  • PHP – Yahoo, Wikipedia, Flickr, WordPress
  • Python – Google, YouTube, DropBox, SurveyMonkey, Quora, Reddit,
  • Ruby on Rails – Twitter, Groupon, Bloomberg, GitHub, Urban Dictionary

# PHP vs Python vs Ruby: Ease of Learning

This is something every new programmer looks forward to when it comes to choosing a new programming language. And most programmers want to put their previous programming knowledge, such as C or others into good use. If ease of learning is your biggest criteria of choice without any doubt you need to choose Python as its coding style is very intuitive in nature and doesn’t require you to scratch your head! Moving on to PHP, it’s definitely not as easy as Python. But, if you have basic knowledge of C it should stand in good stead. As for Ruby you need to have mastered a few programming languages before find your way with this programming language.

# PHP vs Python vs Ruby: Comparing Performance

This is perhaps the most important metric to compare the three languages. While you may start with a simple website, but as your needs grow the website should be able to address your growing needs. This is where it becomes extremely to choose a language that can meet your future needs as well. There are two factors that determine the performance of a language – average run time and lines of codes. When we compare PHP vs Ruby vs Python we can see that PHP and Ruby are far ahead of Python.

# PHP vs Python vs Ruby: Pros & Cons

PHP vs Python vs Ruby: Pros or Advantages

PHP Python Ruby on Rails
PHP is compatible with major web servers and you can easily install it on Apache, Netscape,Microsoft IIS, and other servers. It’s simple to learn syntax makes it a great language for beginners. The Coding style is more logical when compared to Ruby and PHP. Ruby on Rails comes with a built-in coding environment which means that you have to write lesser lines of codes. The logic is not to repeat the same things again.
PHP allows developers to host a website without having to worry about server configuration which is great for beginners. Python is extremely easy to read, which also makes it an ideal programming language for beginners. The language allows developers to write code just the way they think. Whether it’s IBM Db2, MySQL, Oracle or SAP ASE (earlier known as Sybase) Ruby can easily be connected to these databases.
PHP is the best choice for developing Content Management Systems. The large numbers of extensions and source codes add to your advantage. Being a general purpose programming language, it can be applied to different kinds of projects from websites to applications. Compared to the other two languages, Ruby is better when it comes to building complex websites and applications. Its modular architecture allows for fast and scalable development.
There are many choices of frameworks with PHP. Apart from Zend which is the most popular there are others, such as Codeigniter, Yii and Laravel It has a large library which offers you access to internet protocols, OS interface, web server tools, string instructions and everything else you would need to work on your project. There are lots of gems (read plugins) all around on Ruby which makes development easy. You can easily achieve complex functionality using Ruby which isn’t possible with PHP and somewhat less possible in Python.
PHP is the most popular language among the three and has a large community of developers and hence you can easily find online resources and access support when you need. It has great web development frameworks such as Django and Flask which automate many processes of web development. Ruby has an in-built testing environment that would test the codes as you write them. You don’t have to use any third-party testing tool for the programs you write using this language.

PHP vs Python vs Ruby: Cons or Disadvantages

PHP Python Ruby on Rails
PHP isn’t the best language when it comes to building large applications. It’s limited modular architecture is one of it’s biggest limitations. Python is good for desktop and server platforms but has major limitations when it comes to mobile computing. Developers who need to build for both the platforms don’t see value in using it. The learning curve for Ruby on Rails programmer is far bigger than the other two. Hence, it isn’t the first choice language for any developer.
Error handling has always been a major issue that developers have faced by PHP. When compared to Python and Ruby it is surely one major drawback. Unlike other programming languages Python doesn’t use a compiler and instead executes using an interpreter. This often slows down applications. Since it doesn’t have a large user base as PHP, development and updates tend to be extremely slow and hence you often need to work around older methodology.
Unlike other languages in PHP Call by Value is the default setting for objects. If you have used another language in the past it can be difficult to get started with PHP. Python has serious design restrictions when mapped against PHP and Ruby. While as a developer, you can overcome these limitations, it would require you to put in more work and undertake more tests to achieve desired results If you compare boot speed of Ruby on Rails framework, it lags behind the other two. In fact, this is one of the major complaints that most Ruby developers have, especially those who have worked with another language.
Function names in PHP tend to be very confusing. The built-in library uses different types of naming conventions with several prefixes which can make PHP development little tough. It isn’t the ideal programming language for multi-processor and multi-core jobs and tends to create more headaches than the solution for the developers. If you are in look out for good documentation, Ruby on Rails has major disappointment for you. If you are working with less popular libraries and gems the problem only compounds.
Compared to Python and Ruby it is surely the less secure programming language and thus not the best option for websites where security in an important requirement. Since Python is used by a small community of developers compared to PHP finding online resources can and help can be tough and you may have to spend a lot of time to find help for your problem Like Python, Ruby too is used by a small community of developers and this is a major downside when you wish to access online resources to deal with your problems.

And the winner is…

You can clearly see from the arguments and reasoning above it is difficult to choose one among the three as they come with their own incentives and downsides. As a programmer or business, you really should make your choice based on needs and preferences. For creating basic websites, PHP would be your ideal pick whereas Python is more of a general purpose language that is equally great for apps, desktop GUIs and crawlers. In case you need to create complex apps with tons of data functions Ruby on Rails surely stand ahead of Python and PHP. To sum up the PHP vs Python vs Ruby debate, it’s like comparing oranges, apples and guavas and you should pick what you like and what you need.

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