Why is PHP dying? or is it here to stay?

Nivedita Mitra
Nivedita Mitra
Sr. Php Developer
15th February 2019 6 mins read

Even though PHP will successfully celebrate its 27th birthday in 2022 while its latest version was released in November 2021, questions like “is PHP dead” or “is PHP dying” are still being pitched. 

Many web developers believe that PHP has fallen victim to an outdated approach or strategy. Furthermore, they firmly stand on the point that it is not doing enough to reduce the complexity with consistent syntax, namespaces, uncomplicated debugging, etc. 

To this degree, will PHP die in the near future? 

Most definitely not! 

We have explained PHP’s deductions and relevance in the following article.

So, Is PHP A Dying Language?

php-statistics

We could go on and on about how PHP is not dead, but why would you believe us? So, we have some stats that back our statements. 

According to w3techs.com, 77.9% of websites rely on PHP. Out of that lot, 89.3% of the website use PHP version 8.0 while 10.7% use version 8.1. 

Do those numbers signify that PHP is dying? We don’t think so. 

Here are some more stats to help understand the relevance of PHP. 

PHP is used in 34.48% of the top 1M websites. Moreover, 42.04% of the top 100k websites use PHP. Lastly, 48.67% of top 10K websites have PHP as their scripting language. 

It should also be noted that PHP is being used by several global and well-established companies like Facebook, WordPress, Slack, Wikipedia, Tumblr, MailChimp, and Etsy. 

If we just consider WordPress, it powers 455 million websites. Those 455 million websites stand proof that PHP is here to stay. 

But it is also important to look at a different side of the story.

While PHP might not be dead yet, the trend seems to be edging towards a declining stage. 

According to W3Techs, if we just consider a time gap of one year, the usage of PHP dropped from 79.2% in March 2021 to 77.9% in March 2022. 

While this might seem insignificant to some, it is crucial to understand the changes in the game in the long run. 

PHP was the server-side language for 80.1% of websites in 2017. This dropped to 79.6% in 2018. Furthermore, it declined even more and clocked in at 77.9% of websites in 2022. 

So, maybe we are addressing the wrong question. 

It shouldn’t be “is PHP dead?” The correct question that needs to be addressed is, “is PHP dying?”

Why Did PHP Have To Face This Shame?

There are several reasons why PHP is considered to be a dying language. Since we are completely unbiased to the situation, it is necessary to understand its drawbacks as well.

why-php-is-considered-to-be-a-dying-language

1. Strong Competition 

PHP has been facing tremendous competition from other languages like JavaScript and Python despite the fact that PHP is easier. 

If we go by the numbers, 64.96% of the developers use JavaScript, Python stands at 48.24%, and SQL stands at 47.08%. Our friend, PHP, on the other hand, is only used by 21.98% of the developers, as per the 2021 study.

2. Flaws in Security 

The chances of code vulnerabilities stand since PHP’s open-source nature. These vulnerabilities can fall victim to any programmer with vicious intent. 

3. Lack of Debugging Tools 

It is believed that PHP handles errors poorly. Due to its lack of debugging tools, as compared to other programming languages, some errors or warnings might get overlooked.

There are several more reasons, like PHP not being a competent modular or a complex language to learn. They might be the cause of all the backlash that PHP is getting its way.

Is PHP Competing with the Latest Scripting Language?

As mentioned earlier, the main reason why people think PHP is dying is its Avengers-level of competitors. 

One of its main competitors is JavaScript. If we look at the historic trends, the usage statistics of JavaScript as the server-side programming language for websites jumped from 1.2% to 1.9% in the span of March 2021 to March 2022, respectively. 

This upward trend of JavaScript can be a threat to PHP.

PHP vs JavaScript Similarity

Earlier, people believed PHP to be a server-side language while considering JavaScript to be a client-side language. 

However, after frameworks like Node.js and V8, JavaScript stands strong as a language capable of doing a lot of functions that PHP can. 

Before we get to the comparison, let us understand a few similarities between PHP and JavaScript.

php-vs-javascript-similarity

1. Both are Scripting Languages 

First and foremost, the most obvious similarity that JavaScript and PHP share is the fact that both are scripting languages. This means that both are meant to be interpreted and not compiled. A third party translates them into machine code. 

This makes both the languages accessible for freshers as well as experienced developers. 

2. Impactful Effect 

JavaScript and PHP are impactful languages that increase the libraries’ codebase community support. You are bound to get a solution to any problem, especially if you use them together. 

3. High Market Demand 

As we mentioned earlier, around 79.2% of websites use PHP as a server-side programming language.

The demand is the same for JavaScript, if not more. According to W3Techs, 97.9% of the websites use JavaScript as a client-side programming language. 

The numbers are enough to denote that both languages have a huge chunk of the market share.

PHP vs Javascript Difference

Now that we have covered the similarities, it is time to jump to the differences.

php-vs-javascript-difference

1. Area of Implementation 

It gets difficult to compare PHP and JavaScript since the former is a server-side programming language, while the latter is a client-side programming language. 

A server-side programming language delivers dynamic content to the users. On the other hand, a client-side programming language employs scripts on the web server to produce a customised response for every request on the site. 

2. Integration with External Code 

PHP code can only be combined with HTML code. However, JavaScript is more flexible since it can be combined with Ajax, XML on top of HTML. 

3. Runtime Environment

PHP and JavaScript have different runtime environments. 

PHP utilises Zend Engine as a runtime engine as well as a compiler. Contrarily, Node.js is a fast and cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment. It works for servers as well as desktop applications. 

4. Simplicity Factor 

As compared to JavaScript, PHP is simpler to learn and use. It offers a function for every type of operation. 

JavaScript is a little complex to learn and use due to its advanced features.  

5. Objects and Arrays

In PHP, objects and arrays are treated as different entities with varying syntaxes. When it comes to JavaScript, both are used interchangeably. You can interchange between arrays and objects easily. 

6. Case Sensitive 

As far as PHP is concerned, some things might be case sensitive, while others might not be. 

For example, PHP variables are case sensitive, while the PHP functions aren’t. 

On the other hand, JavaScript is highly case sensitive.

Why Javascript Is A Win-Win Solution Over PHP

One of the main reasons why people believe that PHP is dying is the prominence of JavaScript. The following reasons depict why JavaScript is a clear winner as far as PHP is concerned:

why-javascript-is-a-win-win-solution-over-php

1. Performance 

JavaScript’s model is single-threaded, non-blocking I/O execution, and event-driven. This helps run the code without any waiting time for execution. This makes it the best scripting language for low latency applications, for example, entertainment platforms. 

PHP’s model is multi-threaded with a blocking I/O execution. As opposed to JavaScript, PHP cannot execute the second line of code unless and until the first one is completed. 

This gives the edge to JavaScript as far as speed and performance are concerned. 

2. Extensibility 

When it comes to extensibility, JavaScript takes the prize once again. 

JavaScript can be combined with XML, HTML, and Ajax, giving the developers more freedom in terms of code writing. On the other hand, mixing PHP with other backend languages can get a bit challenging. 

Yes, PHP has an advantage in the form of WordPress that makes web development easier and cheaper. 

However, you get more opportunities with JavaScript. 

3. Comprehensiveness 

The fact that JavaScript is a universal language makes it overpower PHP. Since it can be applied for front end as well as backend programming, it is also referred to as a full-stack development language. 

With JavaScript, you can develop an entire mobile or web application. 

Au contraire, PHP is a backend development language. Developing a web app with PHP will require the know-how of CSS as well as HTML. 
All in all, even though both languages have similar community support, JavaScript takes the crown due to its high performance, universality, and extensibility.

Stay Relevant in the Market with Creole Studios

Languages never die. One such fine example is COBOL. People believed that it would die down soon. Fast forward to today where successful companies like Citi and Blue Cross Blue Shield still use COBOL. 

While there are several other scripting languages, PHP is here to stay! With its latest and updated versions, PHP has a long way to go! 

Hence, the next time somebody asks you, “is PHP dead?” back your statements with the aforementioned points and statistics. 

Lastly, if you are a business or a company willing to kickstart your website, Creole Studios has your back. So, wait no more to build your dream website. Contact us today! We’ll be glad to hear from you and help you out!

Nivedita Mitra
Nivedita Mitra
Sr. Php Developer Team leader for Web & Cloud technologies at Creole Studios, and one who takes any challenge headstrong, while never losing the calm.

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