Now I should mention these aren’t just programming languages, but more specifically they are scripting languages. Scripting languages are a subset of all programming languages, and they don’t compile to machine code, but instead are interpreted at runtime.
Alternatively, PHP is a server-side scripting language, so it adds dynamic content through interacting with the server rather than the browser.
Also known as PHP: Hypertext Processor, PHP is a general-purpose and interpreted language created by Danish-Canadian developer Rasmus Lerdorf. At the time of creation, Lerdorf had no intention of building a language and insisted he just “kept adding the next logical step”, leading to the result of PHP. Because of this, there’s often inconsistent naming of functions throughout the various releases of PHP over the years. Some would say this resulted in a fractal of bad design.
I’ll start by comparing which language is best for beginners, then move on to salary, performance, web development, and which one is best for you!
When deciding on your first language, there are a few variables you need to consider.
The first thing to consider is that you need useful language. Much like learning Latin, choosing a dead programming language, whilst enlightening, isn’t going to get you hired and paid. And this brings us to the next topic: choose a language that pays well and is worth investing your money into learning.
You also want a language that’s easy to grasp, so you can start working sooner. You won’t become a master within a week, but you should be able to confidently enter an interview and get yourself hired with a new language within a few months of picking it up, assuming you’re already familiar with programming basics.
Not only that, but it’s also the most known language among professional developers, regardless of what programming they do. So even if you don’t work as a frontend developer, it’s likely you’ll find yourself learning it at some stage because of how important it’s become.
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When looking at salary, I also like to examine how the languages are received on a personal level by developers. Money is all well and good, but the quality of life is just as important.
However, when you look at the ratings for most wanted and loved by developers, there’s a stark contrast.
If you’re interested in future-proofing your career, PHP may not be the choice.
And if you want to take it a step further and even out the playing field, JS’s backend runtime environment Node.js is asynchronous. This means it can run through code without having to wait for nonblocking functions to be executed, and it’s powered by the V8 engine, which is notoriously fast.
Backend development is all about handling web servers and the website’s business logic. It’s where the browser sends requests to and receives information from, and actions like building web content, sending and receiving cookies, evaluating data, working with databases, saving data files, and gathering data all take place.
This is what PHP was singularly developed for. It was designed to communicate with databases effectively, be a free open-source language, and create dynamic web page content via server-side scripting.
PHP is cross-platform compatible, so it works with Linux, Windows, and Mac, and it supports some amazing frameworks like Laravel, which is a virtual development environment making backend work easy and streamlined.
Overall, PHP is easy to use and packed with capabilities that make backend development a breeze.
Node.js is a powerful runtime environment that brings the performance and scalability not emphasized in PHP. It’s free and open-source, one of the most widely used frameworks, and runs using JS so you don’t have to worry about learning another language.
It’s also incredibly flexible, allowing you to change or fix one “node” or event without having to go all the way back to the core of the project.
One fallback though is that because JS was not designed for backend work originally, it pulls up short when it comes to CPU-heavy computations in certain cases.
PHP is a backend language period, and it doesn’t hold much gravitas in frontend development.
It also has a massive community behind it, and for nearly 30 years it has championed this field with developers and businesses alike investing in furthering this language as the frontend language.
- Özgür Yildirim from Germany
Which One Should You Learn: The Final Results
To figure out which language you should learn, you really need to ask yourself “do you want to work in web development?” And if so, then in backend, frontend, or both?
Web development is a profitable field with no signs of slowing down. With most people working from home and things like online-only stores, e-commerce and businesses will keep web development at the forefront of programming for years to come.
No matter your choice, just make sure to choose a language that suits your goals, and the rest will follow suit.