Pros and Cons of PHP Development

Vyom Srivastava, Software Engineer
Vyom Srivastava, Software Engineer
Published: 20.03.2021

Developed over 25 years ago, PHP is one of the more mature languages among web development companies. However, like any other programming language, PHP also comes with a set of its own pros and cons when it comes to server-side scripting.

PHP is one of those few server-side languages which lets you write complex logical functions and display the result in HTML on the client-side without an API.

When PHP was introduced, it was meant for developing dynamic web pages. Now Developers use PHP to build complex web applications but as a general-purpose language, it can also be used for other purposes if necessary, such as creating desktop applications.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of PHP development!

Pros of PHP Development

The Language is Versatile

PHP can be easily combined with other programming languages like C which is much faster than PHP. There are a lot of extensions for PHP written in the C language that allows the PHP code to run much faster, extending the ability of PHP.

You might have heard that Facebook was built using PHP. So, does it still use PHP? Technically, yes, but only partially. PHP comes with its own compiler called Zend engine. But Facebook created its own compiler called HHVM which uses Hack language. This means that Hack can be seamlessly integrated with PHP and the compiler converts the combined code to its native code which improves the performance of the web application.

PHP Developers are Readily Available

There are many developers in the job market who can write code in PHP, so it follows that PHP is being used on more than 70% of the websites on the internet. This in turn opens the door for a lot of entry-level developers to learn the language.

Due to a large number of PHP developers, the competition amongst the developers leads to lower prices which aid in lowering development costs - so, not only are top PHP developers easy to find, they’re also budget-friendly.

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It Has Many Frameworks and Libraries

PHP frameworks simplify the development process by providing the basic structure for the project. They provide rapid web development and simplify the complexity of the project, allowing developers to add their own custom functions without writing down lengthy PHP codes.

There are a lot of PHP frameworks available on the internet like CodeIgniter and Laravel, and most of them are open source which means they can be used and altered without paying money. Isn’t that another positive of PHP? Some frameworks are micro frameworks while most are full stack.

Frameworks allow you to work with the database in a very efficient way by providing support for Object Relational Mapping (ORM). Most frameworks support ORM and can even work on NoSQL databases out of the box.

Using this also simplifies unit tests of PHP code, which are normally time-consuming processes that can take time just for the setup. With frameworks, however, these tests are provided right out of the box.

On the library side, most companies try to build their libraries on PHP because they know it’s very easy to implement and it’ll also increase the adoption rate.

They Require Lower Hosting Service Fees

The affordability of hosting services for PHP projects keeps an increased demand for PHP in the market. Most businesses require only a static website with a contact form or company information which can be very easily built with PHP - these websites don’t require high-end hardware configurations.

The most common implementation of PHP is the LAMP stack which uses an Apache server with MySQL, Linux, and PHP. All of these software and languages are completely open-source and are heavily tested so hosting companies don't need to spend a dime on software - instead, they only need to focus on the server hardware components. You can easily get a PHP server host for $2/month with a low-end configuration.

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Cons of PHP Development

Declining Popularity

We all know that PHP is a very popular language, but there are newer programming languages that are very similar to English. For example, Python is very similar to English and provides a lot of functions out of the box which you have to manually write out in PHP. This means that many developers today prefer to learn languages that allow for a more straightforward process.

There are Many Low-Quality Developers

Since PHP is being used on over 70% of the websites and is taught in base curriculums for developers and programmers, many inexperienced and entry-level developers first enter the job market by offering their base PHP skills. This can result in a low-quality product if the complexity of the project is beyond their capabilities.

Given the popularity of the language, you may also encounter many developers who are willing to take on the PHP project without admitting that they’re not fluent in the language. They may then try to outsource the work.

Performance Issues

PHP is a very slow language and can’t handle high numbers of requests if it’s not optimised properly. PHP doesn’t use a JIT compiler, making it slower than other languages. JIT allows the compilation of the code during the execution of the program while PHP first compiles all the code and then executes it.

Another reason for low performance is PHP's dynamic typing. It means that the types of variables that were created are checked during the execution of the code, instead of during the compilation process. Other programming languages, like Static, runs these checks only during compilation, making them much faster than PHP.

Weighing it all up

PHP is still a very useful language and still one of the most widely used despite being one of the oldest. It is very stable and robust.

But despite having evolved with the times, it may not be the best solution for every situation.

Consider whether PHP will work for your purposes, or explore further the top frameworks available within the PHP universe through our article.

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