Python vs. PHP

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Common Ground

Both PHP and Python:

Compared as Languages

What strengths do PHP have that Python doesn't?

What weaknesses does PHP have that Python doesn't?

What does Python have that PHP doesn't?

Compared as Web Development Frameworks

Unlike PHP, which has web development features built directly into the core language, Python's web development capabilites are provided by add-on modules. Basic CGI capabilities are provided by the 'cgi' module which comes in Python's standard library. There's also a wide range of third-party modules available for Python; some are complementary, others compete. As a result, Python provides a more flexible base for web development.

There are some adverse side effects of this flexibility. First, the range of choices can be bewildering. Unless you are working experienced Python web developers, PHP is easier to get started with. Second, support for PHP is more common with shared-hosting companies than support for the various Python options.

Another difference is that PHP is embedded in the web server, whereas Python web applications can either be embedded in the web server like PHP or run in a separate process. Here's a simple classification of Python web development platforms:

(Note: It's possible to write a long-running server in PHP, but there are precious few examples of it.)

The vast majority of Python Web applications are run in a separate process. This has some important implications.


PHP has historically had a horrible history when it comes to security. See the following article as an example: (Note: This article was published 10 years ago, and is no longer valid for more than an idea of PHPs history with security).

Community Support



Commercial Support



See the CommercialServices page for more information.


Although both PHP and Python have excellent core documentation, Python's is more extensive and generally higher quality. PHP has a large number of translations available. Python doesn't. For PHP see and for Python see Python allows documentation on modules, classes, and functions to be included in the program code. The documentation becomes an attribute of the module/class/function, accessible from inside of the language itself. Python manual is really awfully structurized and presented compared to PHP manual, which uses cross-links, a lot of colorized examples and invaluable user comments to make it easier to comprehend the magic. PHP manual merges different versions of the language together making it a little bit bloated.

Editorial Notes

Given the copy-and-paste origins of this document, along with the age of the original document, the text has been somewhat incoherent. Several changes have since been made to tidy up the text, drop redundant content (old comments which can be viewed in the original document, links to outdated resources and content found elsewhere in this Wiki), and to focus the remaining content on the actual topic of the page.

Constructive Criticism / Observations

I came here for an objective comparison between PHP and Python but what I see is a document that is not only incorrect but is also heavily biased. I realize this is a Python site but that doesn't give editors (read anonymous visitors) carte blanche when it comes to facts. For example - it is claimed that unset is not uniformly used in PHP but in fact it works on variables, objects and arrays. Next is the comment about Python having a profiler, so does PHP. Other items that should not be in the section labeled things that Python has that PHP doesn't include: method chaining, classes are used extensively in the standard library, maturity, easy support for default arguments, debuggers and IDEs and that is just the beginning.

I don't see the harm in referring to future functionality because leaving it out implies that it isn't going to be available - for example the addition of namespaces and other features in PHP5.3 is going to be a nice step for the language and the release is imminent. That having been said, OOP in PHP is not complete IMO so I would like to see objective comparisons of OOP in PHP and OOP in Python which would be an enormous benefit to myself and others.

I don't want seem like I hate Python, I honestly have no notions whatsoever about it but I do not like coming to a comparison page between two languages and discovering that the comments cannot be trusted. The reason I came here at all was to decide if Python would be a good fit for future projects that I intend open source but I am leaving this site unsure of the true advantages that Python has to offer. In the spirit of helping people know the difference, I suggest that you collaborate with someone who has no bias.

Editorial Response

Given recent anonymous edits which say things like...

Python is too slow to be used in web apps


on PHP you can do this: if($a == $b) { echo "true"; } else { echo "false"; } : try to do that whith Python

...the latter either referring to some deep magic or being exceptionally uninformed, I'd rather not see everyone wanting to pile in with mud-slinging but actually have people who have used both technologies give their informed perspectives. The restrictions on editing existed because of spam, but the maintainers of this Wiki reserve the right to enforce access controls if contributions deteriorate in quality. No-one can demand to edit a site like this without showing a degree of responsibility and sincerity. -- PaulBoddie 2011-07-23 19:25:57

Using Python and PHP together

The Embedded Python PECL extension "allows the Python interpreter to be embedded inside of PHP, allowing for the instantiate and manipulation of Python objects from within PHP". The PyPI phpserialize package is "a port of the serialize and unserialize functions of php to python". phppython "is a php to python code converter that currently can: convert small php code snippets, functions to python code". WPHP is a WSGI->PHP gateway that "allows you to run PHP processes inside of Python, using a WSGI gateway". Alternatively take a look at phpython, a Python interpreter written entirely in PHP, to be used without the aid of WSGI, CGI or FastCGI

PythonVsPhp (last edited 2014-05-24 22:55:31 by DaleAthanasias)

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