Tech Content
8 minutes

Updated: 4/30/24

Are you curious about the programming language that powers some of the most popular websites in the world, such as Facebook and Wikipedia? Look no further than PHP!

What is PHP?

Originally standing for Hypertext Preprocessor, this versatile server-side scripting language has come a long way since its inception. Today, PHP is recognized as one of the top programming tools for web development, offering a convenient development process with numerous additional tools to aid it.

Its many virtues have made it a favorite among developers, and it currently ranks as the sixth most popular programming language according to the Popularity of Programming Language Index (PYPL), and ranked ninth by the TIOBE Index for April 2023.

Why Use PHP? Main Advantages and Disadvantages

What is PHP Used For?

PHP is an open-source scripting language, and since its conception in 1994, it has been mainly used by developers to create web pages and websites. You can also use its syntax to create web applications and GUIs (graphical user interfaces). Generally, PHP is an efficient language, capable of delivering the high-performance times demanded by today's consumers.

Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) Uses these tools

Despite being an older programming language and lacking some of the features of newer counterparts, PHP has continued to evolve and mature over the years. Its ease of use, excellent documentation, and solid support make it a favorite among developers.

PHP developers have access to a vast array of frameworks, databases, and libraries, and the language can be set up on any Linux, Windows, or Unix OS with ease. Additionally, It is compatible with all leading databases, such as MySQL, SQLite, and ODBC, and most servers, including Apache and IIS.

It can be further supported by popular PHP frameworks such as Laravel, CodeIgniter, and Symfony, and many well-stocked and vetted libraries. PHP's well-documented APIs make it easy to integrate with all CMS programs and add-ons, resulting in dynamic, interactive, and feature-rich experiences.

The recent versions of this scripting language, such as PHP 7 and PHP 8, are object-oriented, which helps developers create secure frameworks and functions that are dynamic and reusable.

Plus, with every new release, PHP becomes even faster than before. In fact, the most recent release, PHP 8.0, includes a just-in-time (JIT) compiler that surpasses previous performance gains in all the 7.x releases.

Why Use PHP in 2024? Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of PHP

PHP is an efficient language, capable of delivering the high-performance times demanded by today's consumers. Let's see what are the pros of PHP over other programming languages.

Free to Use

PHP offers a significant advantage over many other programming languages in that it is entirely open-source. This means that users do not have to spend any money to use the language, frameworks, debugging tools, databases, and other functionalities. Unlike closed-source languages, which require a fee to use, PHP can be downloaded and used to create websites and web applications without any upfront cost.

Extensive library

One of the notable advantages of PHP is its extensive libraries, which offer pre-written and optimized code to run tasks smoothly and efficiently. These libraries eliminate the need for developers to start coding from scratch, enabling them to borrow and integrate code to maximize the speed and efficiency of their tasks. With PHP, developers can access an extensive collection of libraries, including popular options like Symfony, Django, CodeIgniter, and more. These libraries provide a wealth of resources and functionalities that can significantly enhance the development process and streamline the creation of robust and feature-rich web applications.

Adaptable with multiple platforms and technologies

PHP's flexibility and adaptability make it a top choice for popular content management systems like WordPress. The scripting language can seamlessly integrate with various web technologies, and platforms, making it an ideal option for a wide range of web development projects.

Community support

A major advantage of using PHP for web development is the robust support provided by the PHP community. If developers encounter challenges during the development process, they can turn to the community for assistance, and tap into the knowledge and expertise of fellow developers worldwide. With a large and active user base, the PHP community is renowned for its strong support network and helpful resources. Developers can find solutions to common problems, access documentation, and exchange ideas and best practices with other members of the community.

Easier Maintenance

Developing with PHP offers easy maintenance with the help of frameworks like Model View Controller (MVC). Additionally, developers have access to real-time insights, high speed performance, the flexibility to use the software on multiple platforms, and enhanced security features.

Large choice of available specialists

The widespread usage of PHP has led to the growth of a vast community of developers, many of whom are available for hire. This abundance of skilled professionals has created a highly competitive job market, which in turn can lead to reduced development costs.

Improved loading speed

Since PHP is object oriented programming, it's known for its efficient and optimized code that enables websites to load faster compared to many other web development technologies. As a result, PHP can improve the user experience of a website, keeping visitors engaged and reducing bounce rates. Additionally, faster loading times can also boost a website's search engine ranking, which is important for attracting more organic traffic. PHP's speed advantage over other languages is especially evident when compared to other languages, as PHP can be up to 382% faster than Python and 195% faster than Ruby.

Wide selection of databases

PHP's compatibility with a wide range of databases is one of its major advantages in web development. With PHP, developers can connect to almost any type of database, including MySQL, mSQL, MS-SQL, SQLite, PostgreSQL, ElasticSearch, Redis, MongoDB, and many others. This gives developers the freedom to choose the most suitable database for their application based on factors such as scalability, performance, and cost-effectiveness.

Good flexibility

The flexibility of PHP allows it to effectively integrate with a variety of other programming languages, allowing developers to utilize the most effective technology for each particular feature. Additionally, PHP is a cross-platform language, meaning that developers can use any primary operating system, including Windows, Linux, and macOS, to perform coding. This flexibility greatly facilitates the development process, making it faster and more cost-effective.

Compatibility with cloud services

PHP's compatibility with cloud services is another advantage that it brings to web development. Many modern applications require cloud computing solutions, such as Amazon Web Services, for various purposes. Fortunately, applications written in PHP are supported by different cloud services, including AWS Lambda. As a result, a PHP application can be deployed on a cloud server and achieve excellent scalability and other beneficial effects. The cloud computing space is not monopolized by other coding languages, which means that PHP has taken its place in such implementations.


PHP is a highly scalable language that can handle large-scale projects effectively. Many well-known websites and web applications, such as Facebook, WordPress, Yahoo, and MailChimp, were developed using PHP. One of the reasons why PHP programming is suitable for large-scale projects is its ability to load quickly, which results in shorter waiting times for users accessing the website or application. Therefore, PHP is an excellent choice for businesses or individuals who need to develop complex and scalable web applications.

PHP Advantages

Disadvantages of the PHP Language

Though PHP is undoubtedly useful in the field of web development, it also has several disadvantages that prevent it from dominating that area. For the sake of an unbiased review, let us examine these drawbacks and learn how they can be detrimental for the future software and its business implementation.

It may Decline in Popularity

PHP is a programming language that can be easily learned and mastered by developers. However, when compared to other programming languages like Python, PHP is written more like code, which makes it less accessible for beginners. Due to this, novice developers prefer learning Python as their first language and rarely consider adding PHP to their skillset.

Despite its popularity in web development, the ease of use of PHP compared to other programming languages may pose a challenge for its long-term viability. As the number of PHP specialists declines, the costs of products built on this language may rise.

Can't Keep Up with Modern Technology

If your project requires advanced technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, or big data, then PHP may not be the best choice. However, if you only need to build websites and web applications, PHP can be a suitable option.

For example, machine learning is an increasingly popular field that is expected to continue growing in the near future. While PHP has some libraries available for this purpose, it cannot match the capabilities of Python and other languages when it comes to developing web applications with machine learning functionality. Therefore, if your web application requires machine learning or may need it in the future as your business grows, PHP may not be the most suitable choice.

Security flaws

The accessibility of a PHP script's ASCII text file, due to its open-source nature, has raised concerns regarding the security of PHP-based products. This allows the public to view any written code, including bugs, which can be exploited by malicious programmers. However, this drawback is common among open-source technologies and not exclusive to PHP.

Limited debugging tools

Debugging is an essential part of any programming language, and PHP is no exception. However, developers often complain that PHP has limited debugging tools, which makes it difficult to handle errors, especially when compared to other scripting languages. The tools needed to track and search for errors in PHP don't work as effectively, which can lead to frustration and time-consuming bug fixes.

Inflexibility of PHP’s Core Behavior

PHP’s core behavior is a fundamental component of web applications built with the language. However, one of the drawbacks of PHP is that it does not allow developers to modify or change the framework of this behavior. This can limit the creativity of web developers and make it challenging to achieve new outcomes when building web applications.

Disadvantages of PHP

What is PHP Used For?

PHP's main strength lies in web development, where it is widely used for building the server side of web applications. However, it is not limited to web development, as it is a general-purpose language that can be used for other implementations as well.

For instance, developers can use PHP to build desktop applications, and it also supports object-oriented programming starting from version 5. Additionally, PHP can be extended with other programming languages, such as C, to add more functionality.

The language has a vast number of available libraries and frameworks, such as Laravel, Symfony, Phalcon, Zend Framework, and Yii, which further expand its capabilities.

Companies have been known to use PHP for:

  • e-commerce platforms
  • dynamic & interactive web pages
  • website audio
  • ticket booking
  • advertising
  • management of central databases
  • custom online databases
  • content management systems (CMS)
  • gaming applications

Examples of websites using PHP

PHP is a versatile scripting language that is ideal for numerous web-related tasks, ranging from generating dynamic web pages to collecting web forms, sending emails, and sending and receiving cookies. What are some of the top companies that rely on PHP?


Facebook, with its massive user base of 2.45 billion monthly active users, uses its own version of PHP called HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM). This has resulted in updates trickling down to the main PHP language itself. The use of HHVM showcases the scalability of PHP, especially when handling large amounts of traffic and data.

facebook hiphop virtual machine (HHVM)


PHP has proven to be a reliable and scalable language for large-scale web applications, as demonstrated by the success of Wikipedia, one of the most visited websites on the internet. With a development rate of 1.9 edits per second and 594 new articles per day, Wikipedia relies on the stability and scalability of PHP to handle its massive traffic and data management needs.



PHP is the foundation of Mailchimp, which owns over 60% of the email industry and supports over 12 million customers.



In 2002, Yahoo search engine and news portal migrated from a proprietary C/C++ system to a PHP code to reduce costs and enable scaling. The move proved successful as Yahoo still serves around 700 million people per month.



Slack, the communication platform recently acquired by Salesforce for $27.7 billion, is a notable user of PHP for its server-side application logic.


Examples of Content Management Systems (CMS) Using PHP

A CMS is an online software that allows users to manage digital content without specialized knowledge. PHP is the most common language used by CMS, including WordPress, Drupal, Magento, and Joomla. WordPress alone accounts for 76.4% of the CMS market and hosts 75 million active websites, ranging from simple blogs to complex eCommerce stores.

The most popular brands that use WordPress include TechCrunch, the New Yorker, Walt Disney Company, BBC America, and Sony Music, among many others.

Some of the top Drupal websites include Drupal is a PHP-based open-source CMS framework that powers many eCommerce platforms. Popular examples include The Economist, Tesla Motors, The Weather Channel, The University of Oxford, The Grammy Awards, Lush, Entertainment, and Intuit Mint.

Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform documented in PHP. It utilizes numerous other PHP tools and frameworks, such as Laminas and Symfony. Brands that utilize PHP-powered Magento include Land Rover, Ford, Coca-Cola, Nike, and Nestle.

Joomla is a popular open-source content management system (CMS) that is written in PHP and uses a MySQL or PostgreSQL database. Joomla currently powers over 6.1% of all websites, including Linux, Holiday Inn, Ikea, Harvard University, and Pizza Hut.

If you have a website powered by Drupal, Magento, WordPress, or Joomla, you can hire PHP developers to work with you and expand your website's functionality. A PHP developer can help you create custom features and dynamic web pages, integrate third-party services, optimize website performance, and improve website security, personalizing the experience for your customers.

popular brands use php based software

PHP Application Development

To provide your customers with a fast, user-friendly, and feature-rich experience, you need a reliable PHP development partner. Softjourn has over 10 years of experience in PHP development and Web Development Services. Our team of experts has designed and delivered customized websites, apps, and portals using PHP to help businesses scale rapidly and stay future-proof.

Whether you're seeking a new PHP application or a partner who can help you maintain and perform security updates on an existing platform, Softjourn is here to assist you.

Near and Distant Future of PHP

Although PHP is currently still a widely used language in web development, its future viability has raised some concerns. For instance, Python is attracting more new developers than PHP, and it is considered better suited for certain highly sought-after features such as machine learning, due to the availability of specialized libraries.

Without significant advancements in its evolution, PHP may continue to lose ground to Python. However, it's worth noting that even though it's not one of the newer programming languages, PHP has remained a dominant language in web development, serving as the backbone for about 80% of websites, despite competitors like JavaScript attempting to take its place.

This is a clear indication that PHP is here to stay, and there are compelling reasons why it has maintained its position.


After analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of PHP in web development, it is clear that there are numerous benefits to using this technology.

For instance, due to its simplicity and extensive documentation, the development process may require less time. Additionally, PHP programming is flexible and compatible with other web development technologies offering a broad range of tools for the development team to utilize.

Maybe most importantly for businesses, since PHP is an open-source technology it will significantly reduce the costs associated with building, deploying, and maintaining your application, while also being faster than some other web development technologies.

If you are still unsure about which programming language to choose for your custom-built web application, do not hesitate to contact us. Our specialists will propose the optimal stack of web development technologies tailored to your specific requirements, providing you with a top-quality software solution.

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