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PHP vs Python: Which Should You Learn In 2022? What’s the Difference?

This article will explain what the PHP and Python programming languages are, where they’re best used, and which one is most useful in 2022.

What is PHP?

PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.

PHP a recursive initialism that contains its own name, just to make things confusing for you:

H Hypertext
P Preprocessor

PHP is a processing language – it can search, calculate, and do things based on logical conditions.

PHP usually outputs the information it has processed via HTTP – as a web page, or as formatted data to be consumed by an API.

Consider PHP the computer to which the monitor is attached to. It does the thinking, then outputs the data as HTML to display to the user.

PHP can output data in any format – but the most comment is as HTML documents which web browsers can then read over the internet.

This allows PHP to be used to generate HTML pages containing data retrieved from a database or generated according to user input.

What is PHP Good For?

Building websites and online services. PHP is used to serve up nearly 80% of the web pages on the internet.

Who Uses PHP?

Web developers. If you’re going to want to develop for the web, you’re going to have to know some PHP. Clients will expect it, especially if you’re working on existing code bases, which will probably be PHP.

WordPress is the most popular publishing platform online and it powers news sites, blogs, online stores, and more. It’s written in PHP, and so are the thousands of extensions built for it. Even as we move into the 2020’s, clients still ask for WordPress.

Like it or not, PHP is here to stay, and if you’re working on web stuff, it’s the standard.

What is Python?

Python is a general-purpose programming language that can be used for everything from scripting to building full blown web and desktop applications.

It’s designed to be easy to read, easy to learn, and easy to write. It’s been in development since 1991, the current version being Python 3, which is under active development.

Python bills itself as ‘batteries included’ – many libraries for common tasks are included, reducing the amount of code you have to write to get a project up and running.

Because of its focus on simplicity and the useful included libraries, Python has become one of the most popular programming languages for both those looking to learn, and experienced developers looking to focus on the problem they are solving rather than re-inventing the wheel.

What is Python Good For?

Python is great for beginners due to its clear syntax and focus on readability. This makes it easy to figure out what your code (or someone else’s code) is doing at a glance – making it easy to learn and understand.

Python can be used to build web applications and deliver web content (using frameworks like Django), but is best suited for building interactive scripts, desktop applications, and for processing data.

The PyPi Package Index contains thousands of useful Python packages – for things from drawing graphs, processing audio, 3d graphics generating images and video – if you want to build a real-time application that interacts with the user, or hardware, Python is a great choice.

Who Uses Python?

New developers, and developers who want to rapidly build real-time applications like games or desktop applications. Python stays out of the way and lets you focus on learning to code, and building your project.

So Which One??

What do you want to do?

If you’re looking to focus on web development, you should probably start with PHP. It powers 80% of the internet, so the verdict is in on that one.

If you want to do more general purpose coding – maybe building games, tinkering with the GPIO pins on a Raspberry Pi to interact with buttons, lights, and motors, or you want to process data, generate audio, or any other more general usage, check out Python.

Python can do a lot of stuff and is more fun, but PHP is best if you’re only interested in building web services commercially.

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I'm Brad, and I'm nearing 20 years of experience with Linux. I've worked in just about every IT role there is before taking the leap into software development. Currently, I'm building desktop and web-based solutions with NodeJS and PHP hosted on Linux infrastructure. Visit my blog or find me on Twitter to see what I'm up to.

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