PHP vs Java: What is the difference in development cost?

PHP vs Java: What is the difference in development cost?

PHP and Java are two ways or technologies for software or web development. But both are different in their approaches and also the expenses for them differ.

In the article there are some insights into the cost differences.

Small to medium applications with Hypertext Preprocessor

PHP is short for Hypertext Preprocessor. It was developed in 1994. At that time the abbreviation stood for Personal Home Page. So it was more of a tool to create small websites and it was less about web applications.

With the years this changed.

After 25 years the technology has changed into a tool for writing small to medium scale web applications.

Development can be faster with PHP frameworks such as Laravel, Symfony or Zend.

For more flexibility a developer could also use PHP only.

Apart from that there are also a few more technologies which are based on PHP:

  • WordPress: WordPress is the world’s most widely used Content Management System (CMS) for building online blogs and websites.
  • TYPO3 and Drupal: Both these CMS are used by medium sized companies for building their websites and intranets. The advantages are the higher scalability, stability and security. Things which are important for larger organisations.
  • Magento and Shopware: These are online shop systems. These are used by SMEs (small and medium sized companies) to build eCommerce stores. Magento is the most widely (self hosted) shop system in the world. Shopware is used in the German language market as an alternative to Magento.

PHP can be used for almost all web applications

Around 90 percent or more of all web application requirements can be met with PHP.

Due to this, there are also a lot of PHP developers available. They can be found in many countries all over the world.

Java: fast and large scale applications

In most cases PHP is enough for building a software or web application.

But in some cases fast and large applications are needed. One such example would be an online banking application.

This system needs to support hundreds of thousands, if not millions of users, at a time.

Processing this information needs a technology like Java, which built for such applications.

It is also possible to implement security features, which are not possible to implement in PHP easily.

Companies like Google or Amazon use Java. It is also used extensively by banks and insurance companies.

Not as many Java developers available

As we have figured out in this article, Java developers are used only in large scale projects in certain cases.

Therefore, there are not that many Java experts out there. And the ones who are experienced in it, usually work in large scale banks or IT consultancies which operate globally.

The demand for Java is usually much higher than the supply of people proficient in that technology.

Therefore Java developers are usually tougher to get in the job market.

Difference in hourly rates

All this leads to difference in prices and conditions.

Developers with great Java experience usually get much higher salaries or hourly rates than people with PHP experience.

Duration of projects

In PHP there are many libraries available, which help in decreasing the effort to build larger applications. Especially frameworks like Laravel or Zend can be helpful to develop faster.

The scenario is different for Java. Usually a lot of work is required to build even simple solutions (with the added advantage of the solutions being fast, secure and scalable).

Therefore the same application can take much longer to be built with Java, while at the same time having much higher hourly rates.

Example calculation

To get a better feel for the situation, let us do an example calculation for a web solution. In this example it is a web application which compares the prices of products in different web shops and shows it on the website.

Time for development in PHP

Development time: 2.5 months (or 400 hours)

Hourly Rate: 25 US Dollar

Price: 10’000 US Dollar (400 hours x 25 US Dollar)

Time for development in Java

Development time: 5 months (or 800 hours)

Hourly Rate: 45 US Dollar

Price: 36’000 US Dollar (800 hours x 45 US Dollar)

Conclusion for this example

The same solution to be built in Java, costs around 3.6 times more, than if it is built in PHP.


Of course it depends on the requirement of the company. A bank or a flight operator will be willing to spend much more on their solutions, so as to have secure (example: in online banking) applications.

A medium sized organisation with 100 employees might not have such high requirements. Their solutions might only be used by 100 to 1000 users per day and the transactions usually tend not to be that critical in nature. A supplier who sells car parts via their own web shop can also rely on PHP, a PHP framework like Laravel or a PHP based online shop system like Magento. Also: For a SME, cost is a bigger factor. So they will usually go for lower cost solutions.

A company which decides to get a software or a web application built, needs to therefore look at the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, and decide on the way forward.

What is your experience?
Reasons for and against PHP or Java
A good comparison of PHP and Java here

The author: Sascha Thattil works at which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.

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