PHP vs Python vs Ruby on Rails Comparison

What a topic! What is the best choice for website / server side web development? A question that is mostly debated among the beginner / student web developers, who want’s to developer their first website with full stack server side language.

In this post I’m going to compare PHP, Python & Ruby on Rails. Every language comes with advantages and disadvantages and we will explore pros & cons of these languages.

These three are most popular languages for the web development, and I’m going to do comprehensive comparison among these most popular programming technologies.

We are going to look at the different stats data to accomplish the comparison of these languages, let’s start the comparison.

According to Stackshare.io until today 31st December 2020.

1. Stats & Numbers

Usage & market share of any programming language gives the idea of it’s popularity.

Following table shows you the most widely used server-side programming languages among PHP/Python/Ruby


PHP

Python

Ruby on Rails
Stacks93.9K106K21.1K
Followers39.6K80.2K12.9K
Votes4.5K6.4K3.9K
Stats & Numbers

2. Website built using these languages


PHP
The top 10 websites developed in PHP are

Python
The top 10 websites developed in PHP are

Ruby on Rails

The top 10 websites developed in PHP are
YahooInstagramBasecamp
FacebookGoogleAirbnb
WikipediaSpotifyGitHub
TumblrNetflixShopify
WordPressUberGroupon
MailChimpDropboxGoodreads
FlickrPinterestKickstarter
iStockPhotoInstacartHulu
BaiduredditSlideshare
CanvalyftTwitch
Zendesk
Crunchbase
Dribbble
Urban Dictionary
Website built using these languages

3. Usability

Usability is the one of the main factors for choosing programming language, that you should take in to consideration. The language with high usability helps to develop a powerful, scalable and high end application. PHP is a very well documented with a very classical approach, where as Python in this case follows very strict indentation guidelines, but with the easiest code readability. According to most programmers Ruby code is very powerful, with very high usability which may be attributed by the fact that it is based on the principle of least astonishment, making it less confusing to the clients.

4. Ease of learning

Learning curve or ease of learning is also an important factor before choosing a coding language for your new projects. Mean the high learning curve value is easy-to-understand and possess pretty clean codes.
Among these three languages, Python has the best learning curve, PHP comes second and the last is Ruby-on-rails.

5. Pros & Cons

By looking at pros & cons of these languages one can get better idea, that what is the best choice for the project to be developed. Let’s look at pros & cons of the languages.

Pros / Advantages:

PHPPythonRuby on Rails
PHP is compatible with major web servers and you can easily install it on Apache, Netscape, Microsoft IIS,  and other serversIt’s simple to learn syntax makes it a great language for beginners. Coding style is more logical when compared to Ruby and PHPRuby 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 codes 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 sources 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 LaravelIt 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 process of web development.Ruby has an in-built testing environment that would test the codes as you write them. You don’t have to uses any third-party testing tool for the programs you write using this language.

Cons or Disadvantages:

PHPPythonRuby on Rails
PHP isn’t the best language when it comes to building large applications. Its limited modular architecture is one of its 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 with 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 as 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 CallbyValue 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 resultsIf 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 development little tough.  It isn’t the ideal programming language for multi-processor and multi-core jobs and tends to create more headaches than solution for the developers.If you are in lookout 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 smaller community of developers compared to PHP finding online resources can and help can be tough and you may have to spend lot of time to find help to your problemLike 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.

As you can clearly see by looking at stats, pros & cons of all these languages come with own incentives and downsides. Being a programmer or CTO it’s your responsibility to choose what is the best for your business.

Conclusion

PHP would be a good option for general websites and application, e-commerce.

Python is more of a general purpose language that is equally great for apps, desktop GUIs and crawlers.

Ruby on Rails is ahead of Python & PHP in case the application is complex and need to handle tons of data.

Author: Danyal
I'm working as programmer since 2002. Born, grew up, studied and worked in Pakistan now Im located in Denmark since 2006.