PHP vs. Python — The Best Language for Hosting Your App on a PaaS

Aaron Walker
Aaron Walker  |  November 9, 2017

Cloud platform as a service software (PaaS) solutions can serve myriad purposes and provide the tools to develop and deploy nearly any kind of software application.

Selecting a programming language for developing your application can be difficult, and the intention of your application plays a prominent role. Two of the most commonly used (and compared) programming languages for PaaS software are PHP and Python.

PHP vs. Python

Python and PHP are two of the most commonly used coding languages today’s developers are using. Python is typically used for high-level and general-purpose programming, while PHP is a scripting language used mostly in web development.

Both languages are open source, sustain comprehensive developer communities, and can be used for both scripting and general programming. They can also extend programming languages like C, C++ and Java. Still, they have important differences you should consider before developing your application.

Why use PHP app hosting?

PHP is a language concentrated on server-side scripting that was first created in 1994. Its greatest benefits come from accessing FTP servers and database servers such as PostgreSQL, MySQL and SQLite.

Since its initial implementation, PHP usage has evolved from server-side scripting to developing a broad range of command-line interface and graphical user interface (GUI) applications. The language can also be used to create Flash components, e-commerce applications and data representation graphics.

Here are some PaaS users satisfied with their tools' PHP development capabilities:

“If you want to get up to speed quickly, especially for Sharepoint, Azure is the way to go. Setting up a web app is straightforward and it supports multiple technologies — java, .net, php. And they support wordpress which makes getting up and running even easier.” — Azure review
“Heroku is finely customizable to a number of modern programming language such as Ruby, Node.js, PHP and Go. Users get quite a bit of functionality of the free tier which easily meets the needs of smaller personal applications.” — Heroku review
 “The speed is fast. [The] learning curve was easier than expected. Setting up PHP environment and MySQL database was a piece of cake.” — OpenShift review
 “Since I've used it mostly for deploying basic PHP applications, I can recommend that it is a very useful service for those purposes.” — AWS Elastic Beanstalk review

Why use Python app hosting?

Python is a high-level programming language that’s been around since 1991. Today, it’s roughly the third-most commonly used programming language. PHP ranked eighth on that list.

The language itself is focused on readability and many consider it the easiest programming language for beginners to learn. GUI-based desktop applications are the No. 1 use for Python. But it also can be used to build web applications, enterprise business applications and operating systems, among other uses.

Here are some PaaS users satisfied with their tools’ Python development capabilities:

“I *always* recommend starting with Heroku to folks starting out with tech like Rails and the Python frameworks. It removes the deployment barrier for these folks to start sharing their code. The lack of required maintenance is also great. If a piece of hardware fails, they take care of it.” — Heroku review
“Moreover, no matter your technology — .Net, Python, Node.js — Azure can provide a solution for getting your software out there. Great documentation too!” — Microsoft Azure review
“Deploying applications to pre-defined env — eg. Python 3.3 is much faster than setting up EC2 instance (even through Elastic Beanstalk)” — OpenShift review
 “I usually start my python and node.js projects on Heroku free plan and after a while some of them need a migration to a bigger service. Since using Heroku is not always possible, Dokku is great at that point because it allows me to only change my git endpoint.” — Dokku review

App hosting products python vs php

Five of the most commonly used PaaS offerings — Heroku, Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, AWS Elastic Beanstalk and Engine Yard — support both PHP and Python. Since this is the case, general usability and operation can become bigger purchasing factors than language support. Engine Yard requires an add-on to support PHP, and the variety of AWS products can seem overwhelming.

If you’re building a web application, web content management system or GUI-based application, PHP is probably the better solution. Some people think Python is too slow for web apps and its greatest benefits can be found in developing games, image processing solutions and operating systems.

There’s no black-or-white answer to the debate. But combining user satisfaction with programming purpose can help you find the right PaaS solution to get your app up and running.

Aaron Walker

Aaron Walker

Aaron is a Senior Research Specialist who focuses on cybersecurity, information technology and software development. He began at G2 Crowd in 2016 after graduating from The University of Iowa. Aaron has written for The Daily Herald, Tribune Media, and The Daily Iowan, among other media outlets. In his free time, Aaron enjoys shooting film photography and fine-tuning his illustration skills.