Which is the best programming language for web development is the ultimate question with many debatable answers. Everyone has their point of view hence their preferences and arguments for the same. While someone will only find pros in a certain programming language whereas the others would only find the flaws in it.
I’m not here to give you any verdict on which is the best programming language for your web application development project. I will leave it for you to decide. All I can do is provide enough information and necessary insights to help you make an informed decision on which programming language will be suitable for your upcoming project.
In one of our blogs, we have initially measured PHP vs ASP.NET for web development and here, we are going to concentrate on the biggest battle that is – Java VS PHP. Without any further ado, let us dig in.
What Is Java programming language?
Java is a class-based, cross-platform, and general-purpose programming language. It was released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. Though it has been around for more than 20 years, Java is still one of the most popular programming languages.
The programmers only have to write their code once and can use it on any platform or devices like smartphones and computers compatible with Java. It runs on a simple logic – “Write Once, Run Anywhere”. Though Java is one of the high-level programming languages that consists of complicated processes, the Java Compiler would convert your code into bytecode, and then the Virtual Machine would convert it for the device on which the user wishes to run. Many top brands like Uber, Instagram, Google, Netflix, Amazon, eBay, and more use Java.
What is PHP?
Originally known as Personal Home Page, PHP is now popularly known as Hypertext Preprocessor. It is a server-side, general-purpose, and open-source scripting language that could also be embedded in HTML. Rasmus Lerdorf launched it in 1994. This programming language has played a significant role in the Software development of many content management systems like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
Though PHP is an interpreted language, the interpretation can happen only once. It will only work on the platform and devices enabled by PHP services. However, there are many systems out there that support this server-side scripting language. Large companies like Wikipedia, Facebook, Etsy, Slack, Tumblr and more use PHP.
Why are We ComparIng these Programming Languages?
The field of web development is booming, more and more web applications and websites are built on a day to day basis. The number of websites was already growing at a faster rate before covid but the pandemic boosted it very high as many businesses were forced to move online. PHP and Java both are used largely for web development. But a developer can learn all the languages, he/she has to make a decision and pick one. So it is necessary to know all the aspects of a programming language while making that decision.
Both the programming languages have many similarities like both are open-source and object-oriented. Both languages have similar syntax. They are the same but still, they are designed to fulfill different purposes.
Comparing Java and PHP
Now, we are going to compare the languages to know the difference between them. We will be discussing some of the important aspects on which the Java and PHP developers around the world debate the most.
Speed of Coding
Many threads help in managing and processing the set of instructions quickly and efficiently in Java. Meanwhile, the latest versions of PHP have increased the coding speed and decreased memory consumption. Therefore if you are coding, PHP will consume less time than Java. so it seems like, in this section, the PHP programming language is the clear winner.
Now in the comparison of the performance in PHP vs Java, the latter seems to be the clear winner. Because PHP requires some time to comply with the bytecode for every request whereas Java comes in precompiled. The optimization can be done in both languages but it seems that Java can put more work into that. As we already discussed, the latest versions of PHP reduce memory consumption, they also optimize writing. In the end, both languages allow the developers to build high-performing software very fast.
In terms of stability, Java again is considered to be ahead of PHP. It demands a long code which is time-consuming. But if the long code is written well then it will be able to provide stability to the application and even if crashes occur, it will be fewer. This is one of the reasons why banks and fintech companies opt for Java for custom software development.
Java and PHP, both languages have been around for a long time and that’s why an extensive amount of documentation is available for them. You can find the official documentation for Java on Oracle. You will be able to find all the information you need very easily as in all complexity, the language specifications are described. On the other hand, though the PHP was launched in the same period as Java, the documentation of the PHP seems a little outdated, inconsistent, and partly riddled.
The talent pool of any language will only increase if the worldwide adaptation and the use of the language will increase. According to the survey conducted by Stack Overflow, approximately 25.8% of professionals use PHP which is lower in comparison to the 38.4% of professionals using Java.
In terms of popularity, it is easy to get the answers because it completely relies on the data. And the data says that Java is more in demand than PHP among developers. The GitHub and Google trends state that only 6.2% of programmers want to learn the PHP language whereas 19.1% of programmers want to learn Java which is more than the previous one. Some research also suggests that in the list of top most programming languages in demand in the market, Java has managed to secure the place higher compared to PHP. And lastly, in the survey of developers for which programming languages they love to work with, approximately 44.1% of developers said they love to work with Java, on the other hand, 37.3% of developers were seen to like working with PHP.
Easiness to Learn
Both the languages are easier to learn for the freshers. But still, the debate continues for which one is much easier than the other. But I think that the learning of a programming language also depends upon the knowledge and skills of the trainee. Still, some debate that the library of Java is too deep to learn easily. Meanwhile, some point out that Java is closer to the English language and its syntax is much simpler than PHP.
Securing the web application from cyber threats is the most important thing to do. You must also consider the policies and the regulations imposed for data protection. Security plays a crucial role in every company but has significant importance for public organizations. So let us have a look at Java vs PHP from the perspective of security.
Both programming languages come with more than enough built-in security features for the developers to integrate into their web applications. But some also claim that Java comes with more security features whereas the PHP developers have to look for PHP frameworks with enhanced security features so that they can meet the security-related requirements. It is necessary that for complex projects, some features need to be blocked in low-level programming for the protection of the PC. and Java does that better than any other language.
Cost of Development
Every company wants to build its product with as minimal cost as possible. And in most cases, the software development cost is the topmost priority of the companies. In such a case, nothing is better than PHP. It is the most feasible option available in the market. The time to code is very less if you use this programming language so your development cost will be cheaper.
Some Important Advantages and Disadvantages of Java and PHP
If you truly want to understand Java and PHP then it will be better if you look at both languages separately. We will discover some major pros and cons about both programming languages so you can compare them or weigh them which would make it easy to choose one for your upcoming web development project.
When to use Java and PHP?
I also said it before and will say it again that there is no such thing as good language and bad language, there is just the right implementation of the language to build web applications. Every language has a different purpose to fulfill. Likewise, Java is mainly used by enterprises for more complicated projects. Meanwhile, PHP is used by startups and SMEs in less complicated projects. Now it’s time to take a look at the most common example of the usages of both languages.
What Is Java Used For?
Being a general-purpose programming language, there are many use cases for Java in the world. It will be needed for the development of the following:
- Android apps
- Web apps (Google Sheets, Gmail, shopping carts, online forms)
- Enterprise apps (used in charities, governments, schools, and banks. Many enterprises like TripAdvisor, Spotify, and Pinterest, use Java)
- Web servers (Adobe JRun, Resin, Rimfaxe Web Server (RWS) Apache HTTP server, Apache Tomcat)
- Software tools (IntelliJ Idea, Eclipse, NetBeans IDE)
What Is PHP Used for?
In the initial phase after its launch, PHP was mostly used to create dynamic web pages but today, it covers a bigger field in development. This language is used to develop the following:
- Scripting (DevOps tools, automation)
- Websites (iStock Photo, Flickr, MailChimp, Yahoo)
- eCommerce apps (, UberCart, OpenCart, ZenCart)
It would be completely irrational to say who is the winner in the battle of Java Vs PHP. The comparison was not only tough, but it was also deceptive. I already said that every language has a different purpose to fulfill. If you have requirements that can be better met by PHP then you don’t get any right to criticize Java, vice versa. But keep one thing in mind, the software developers need to be talented to work with any kind of project then it will be easier to work with multiple technologies on various projects. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Colin Rooney is a technical consultant. He has a firm grip on latest technologies like PHP, Laravel, React. He loves to share his bylines in various blogs in his leisure time. You can find his bylines in many famous blogs.