PHP vs JavaScript – Choose The Right Language for Your Project

5 min read

I need to explain before saying that one language is better than the other. I don’t want to turn the PHP vs JavaScript discussion into comparing apples and oranges, so I should explain the main difference between PHP and JavaScript. PHP is a programming language for back-end development only. Whereas Initially, JavaScript was designed as a front-end development language but later on, when Node.Js was introduced, it became full-stack. Today, you can develop the whole app with JavaScript, both client and server-side. The question is, which language is more effective and suitable for your desired project?

Therefore, if you want to decide between PHP and JavaScript, the discussion is minimized to which language you want to use for back-end development. Here is the comparison between PHP and JavaScript for web development based on the following criteria:

  • Brief overview
  • Performance and speed
  • Extensibility
  • Universality
  • Community
  • Syntax
  • Apps it is best suited for

1. Brief overview

PHP Vs JavaScript


PHP was developed in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf. PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. It is an open-source scripting language for back-end development; it received global identification. In W3techsurvey, 79% of all websites use PHP. The most popular websites are Facebook, Wikipedia, and WordPress.


JavaScript is introduced in 1995 by Brendan Eich, is a lightweight, high-level, interpreted, or just-in-time-compiled, dynamic programming language. JavaScript is characterized by curly-bracket syntax, first-class functions, and prototype-based object orientation. It supports both object-oriented and aspect-oriented programming languages. According to statistics, 69% of developers use JavaScript worldwide, and 5% of developers plan to adopt this language. The report shows the most popular programming language in the world is JavaScript.

2. Performance & Speed


PHP is characterized by a multi-threaded, blocking I/O execution model. Unlike JavaScript, PHP is synchronous. You cannot execute the second line of code in PHP until the first one is; that is why it is much slower than JavaScript. While PHP undoubtedly loses in terms of speed, some say it is more stable than JavaScript. Yet, this advantage is unclear and not a hundred percent proven.


JavaScript is specialized by an event-driven, single-threaded, non-blocking I/O execution model. The event loop and Node clustering verify such a model. The technical nature of Node.js allows it to run through the whole code simultaneously without waiting for some functions to be executed. JavaScript is the best solution for low latency applications, such as streaming platforms. Node.js speeds up even further by the V8 engine, constant server connection, and callback functions.

3. Extensibility


You can combine PHP with HTML only. The greatest advantage of PHP is the availability of CMSs like WordPress or Drupal. These solutions facilitate and even make web development cheaper. You can also extend PHP with any LAMP stack technology and such server solutions as MySQL or PostgreSQL.


You can combine JavaScript with HTML, XML, and Ajax. There are a lot of JavaScript frameworks, and one cannot even count them because new ones appear quite often. The most popular front-end JS technologies are Vue, Angular, and React. The most common server-side framework is Node.Js. What framework you select may define your future app’s development speed and cost, performance, and other technical characteristics.

4. Universality

JavaScript is cross-platform, and so is PHP. Both PHP and JavaScript develop web applications, even though you can use PHP and JavaScript for mobile app development.


PHP is a back-end development language only. PHP belongs to the LAMP stack, which stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Perl/Python. To develop a web application with this technology stack, a software engineer needs to know four different syntax systems and HTML and CSS. Switching between languages is neither easy nor efficient, which complicates the learning loop badly.


The greatest benefit of JavaScript over PHP lies in the fact that JavaScript is a full-stack development language. Most PHP vs JavaScript comparisons highlights that JavaScript is the front end only, but this is not true. You can build an entire web or mobile app with no other technology than JavaScript.

5. Syntax

The syntax of a programming language is just a matter of personal preference. Both PHP and JavaScript use different brackets, including curly, round, and square brackets. In both PHP and JavaScript, variables can be of any type, they can change type, and you can check the type by calling a language-specific operator – typeof in JS and gettype in PHP. In both languages, arrays start with “0”. For () loop functions identically in both PHP and JavaScript, the difference is only how the variable inside for-brackets is declared. ForEach () loop, unique to PHP, can be easily transformed into JS for a () loop.


PHP uses dollar signs “$” to denote variables, whereas JS has no such sign. All variables are local by default unless declared global with global. A local variable will not be available in subfunctions unless you pass it in an argument. In PHP, addition is done with “+,” and concatenation is done with. “. PHP is case-sensitive only in variables. PHP allows both numeric and associative arrays. In PHP, arrays and objects are completely different things with different syntax. In PHP, items in objects are referenced with an arrow “->.”


In JS, variables are global by default unless declared local with var. A local variable is available for everything within this function or its subfunctions. In JS, both addition and concatenation are done with “+.” JS is case-sensitive in variables and functions. There are no associative arrays (key-value pairs) in JS; you should use JSON strings instead. In JS, arrays and objects are very similar and often interchangeable. An object item can be referenced as an array item as well. In JS, items in objects are referenced with a full stop “.”.

6. Apps it is best suited for


JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages worldwide for a good reason. You can build several applications, such as mobile applications, wearable technologies. You can use it to develop both the front end and back end of almost any software application type, including 3D games, AR/VR solutions, IoT products, and so on.


Although PHP is a general-purpose programming language, it is primarily used for developing dynamic web pages. Considering the availability of PHP-based content management systems such as Moodle and WordPress, PHP is the best solution for blogs, learning management systems, and e-commerce websites.

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The comparison between PHP vs JavaScript ends that JavaScript beats PHP. Both languages are good in community support, extensibility, and suitable apps. JavaScript is certainly more efficient in terms of speed and universality. Meanwhile, it loses to PHP in terms of a learning curve even though the syntax. Just keep in mind – this does not mean that JavaScript and, in particular, is always the best choice – it’s up to you and your project.

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