PHP vs JavaScript: Which to choose?

Web development companies and developers have the choice of multiple languages and frameworks when it comes to developing apps and websites. The most basic questions would be whether to go for PHP frameworks or Javascript frameworks.

For an experienced developer, the road is pretty much clear, because he will take the route he is used to. For a person yearning for a shift to PHP or Javascript, or a beginner, would probably want to know a distinction between the two to make a better choice, this article might be Helpful.

PHP is a scripting language developed by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, and is considered to be one of the biggest languages in the Web 1.0 category. It stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. PHP is also a programming language embedded in HTML. It can send and receive cookies, evaluate form data sent from browsers, build custom web content and so on.

PHP can be integrated with Postgresql, Oracle, Sybase, SQL, and MySQL and protocols like IMAP, POP3 and LDAP. Basically, PHP is a server side scripting language.

Javascript, developed by Brendan Eich in 1995, was mainly intended to create cheap create network centric applications. It allows the program to interact with the user, create dynamic pages, control the browser and so on. When you hover the mouse over the menu tab on a webpage, it is Javascript that brings you the drop down. Basically, JS is a client side scripting language.

Both PHP and JS can manage apps of varying levels of complexity, but they really do have different concepts and architectures that is worth perusing in. A person looking to develop an app with one of these languages would be able to make a better choice after understanding the differences.

Of course, there are a number of similarities too, but understanding the differences will probably shed light on which language you need for your project.


According to GitHub, Java is the most popular language when compared to PHP. It has more opened pull requests in 2017. While Java has 2.3M requests, PHP had only 559K requests.

Efficiency of languages

There are some programmers who side with PHP saying it is a more efficient language and fluidic. JS could show problems like shared hosting which is not a problem with the other language.

Of course, this doesn’t mean JS is inefficient, it just means that you have to be careful with the language when you use it in specific areas. JS shines when you use it in dedicate servers. So it mostly depends on what the programmer prefers.

Building large web applications

Both languages are useful for building large web applications, but you can see plenty of programmers tilting toward JS. This is because dedicated server hosting works well with the language and large applications usually need that.

Open source or not

Javascript is open standard, not open source. Language standard cannot be open source because it is a document, not a program. But it is a close approximation in some ways in the sense that it is not the proprietary language of any particular company, hence no one controls it. It is the implementation of ECMAScript language standard.

PHP is open source, which means the Internet community owns it, and hence plenty of support is provided by users. Of the two languages, perhaps this is the one main reason that makes this language more flexible and usable. It is designed to suit the requirements of a particular community, and not just individual developers.

Runtime Environments

PHP is largely on the server side, while JS is mostly with client-side scripting. Though both can be embedded directly into the HTML, they do need an interpreter for this to work successfully. JS interpreter is built into the web browsers, while PHP can be installed and powered by Zend engine to be run on the server side. There was a major change when Node-js came in because
it allowed JS to run on the server side. Until then, this was largely restricted to front-end development only.


As PHP is open source, rebuilding and customisation are very easy. It gives the developers the edge in working successfully with many choices and options.

JS can also be used for rebuilding and customising, but not to the extent that PHP allows.

What’s the industry standard?

If you are working with a small company, or is a freelancer working on a small project, then PHP would suffice. However, if you want to work with some bigger companies, then you might have to use JS because their systems might be using the language for their projects. But then it could be because JS is an older language when compared to PHP, and the internal departments in these companies find it easier to manage it.

And developers who have knowledge of JS will always have a recognised qualification because it is a paid language with a recognized certification system.


JSON is the short for Javascript Object Notation, and is a standard lightweight data-interchange format. A text-based format that is syntactically similar to Javascript object definitions. So this gives most JS technologies the upper hand while dealing with JSON. For PHP, this gets more situational and you can encode and decode JSON objects between the client and the server.

Closing thoughts

If you are looking to build a simple blog with a single database table, then you can choose PHP as it is a server side scripting language. Java, a general purpose language is a great choice for building larger web applications that can communicate with several other systems in the same application. It is also worth noting that the architecture of a JavaEE web application is generally more than is needed for small/simple web applications.

There are some scenarios in which both the languages would be good. For example, healthcare apps. While Java is the first choice for creating small to large embedded devices used for remote patient monitoring applications, and robust sensors, PHP would be the first choice for web based secure Electronic Health Record management applications.

Interesting Articles:
PHP vs JavaScript overview
Which one to use? PHP or JavaScript
Picture Source: nyuhuhuu/ Eric/ Martin

The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader 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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